Hire and manage employees in Colombia
Hiring in Colombia? Rippling can help your company grow globally without missing a beat. With Rippling, you can effortlessly onboard and manage new hires in Colombia and across the world—whether you have a workforce of 2 or 2,000.
Avg Time to Hiring
Less than 5 minutes
GMT-5 • (Bogota)
Hire and manage employees
in Colombia with Rippling
Onboard Colombian employees and contractors in 90 seconds
Set up new hires in Colombia with everything they need, from country-specific trainings to 3rd-party apps like Slack.
Manage HR, IT, and Finance in one system
Juggling multiple systems for your team? That creates silos and busy work. Rippling does it all—in a single system.
Automate your HR compliance work
Understanding and complying with Colombian laws is hard work. Rippling does it for you.
The essential guide to hiring in Colombia
Hiring employees for the first time in Colombia can be intimidating. There’s a lot to keep track of when expanding your global business: What are the statutory benefits employers need to provide? How do you pay Colombian employees?
In this guide, we answer these questions (and more) to ensure you have a thorough understanding of Colombian employment laws so you can get started on the right foot.
Employer of Record (EOR) vs. entity
First things first: Decide between setting up a legal entity or hiring employees through an Employer of Record (EOR). Your decision will likely rest on your company’s size, available resources, and expansion plans.
- Legal entity in Colombia. Setting this up is complex. You’ll need documents translated into Spanish, registration with local authorities, a local bank account, and expert advice to ensure you maintain compliance with the Colombian labor code.
- Colombian EOR. An EOR is a third party that acts as an employer in a country on your behalf—meaning you don’t need to worry about the hassle of setting up a separate entity. EORs handle all the legal obligations for complying with local payroll, tax, and labor laws. They can also offload administrative work like onboarding and managing employees, calculating and withholding tax, and running payroll.
Pros and cons of an EOR vs. setting up your own legal entity
Cost and implementation
Faster to set up.
Start hiring within days.
Becomes costlier as your headcount increases.
Expensive and time-consuming.
More cost-effective if you plan to scale.
Set up new hires, often within one to 14 days, depending on the provider.
Supports large-scale expansion into new markets.
Takes on your compliance work and assumes liability.
Not as easily customized to specific business needs.
Your company remains liable for all compliance infractions. And it requires expert understanding of local regulations and tax laws.
Can be tailored to your specific business needs.
Payroll & Benefits
Quickly pay and insure employees worldwide.
Files your taxes.
Need to manually track statutory deductions and entitlements for all employees.
Let’s say you choose to go with an EOR. You can begin hiring employees by collecting their legal information (including name, date of birth, address, social security system registration, and bank account information) as well as enrollment in public health insurance and a severance fund.
To understand all the steps to hiring an employee through an EOR in Colombia—and learn how Rippling can help you hire and onboard Colombian employees in 90 seconds—check out our guide.
Classifying Colombia workers: employees vs. contractors
It’s no secret that misclassifying your workers can lead to legal consequences—regardless of where you hire. In Colombia specifically, the Pension and Social Securities Unit (Unidad De Gestión Pensional y Parafiscal) has started cracking down on foreign businesses hiring Colombian contractors to ensure they aren't misclassifying their workers.
Here are some of the ways Colombian law differentiates between contractors and employees:
High level of worker control. Generally, contractors have more agency over the completion of their work (such as how, when, and where).
More direction from the employer. Employees are subject to subordination and more oversight from their employer. This includes possibly requiring them to work specific hours or from a specific place.
Equipment and tools are typically provided by the worker.
Equipment and tools are typically owned by the company.
Not entitled to benefits. Contractors pay their own taxes and provide their own benefits, if they choose to have them. They aren't entitled to the same benefits as Colombian employees.
Entitled to benefits. Employees are entitled to employment benefits and protections, such as minimum wage, sick leave, maternity leave, and paternity leave. They may also receive supplementary benefits, like private health insurance.
Not subject to disciplinary measures. Contractors aren't subject to disciplinary action for misconduct or under performance. Instead, they can be dismissed at any time without notice or cause.
Can be subject to disciplinary action. Employees can be disciplined by their employers. Moreover, in Colombia, employees are legally entitled to notice periods and severance payments, if terminated without cause.
Non-exclusive services. Contractors can’t be limited to providing their services to a single entity. They are allowed to work for multiple businesses at once.
Exclusive services. Employees can be contractually bound to work for just one company.
Work permits for Colombia employees
Before you make your first Colombian hire, it’s crucial to ensure they’re legally allowed to work in Colombia. Anyone who isn’t a Colombian citizen—and doesn’t have permanent residency—will need to apply for a work visa in order to work in the country.
Some exceptions apply: Citizens of MERCOSUR countries may qualify for special visa benefits. MERCOSUR member countries include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname are considered associate members.
Here are the most common visas in Colombia (in accordance with their 2022 updates):
- Visitor "V" type visa: This visa is for visitors planning a short stay in Colombia without working.
- Migrant "M" type visa: The M visa is for anyone planing to live and work in Colombia temporarily. This visa is the most common, and is usually issued to those who invest in Colombia, receive a job offer from a Colombian business, or marry a Colombian citizen. M visas are typically valid for three years.
- Resident "R" type visa: For those planning to establish themselves in Colombia permanently, they’ll need an R visa. M type visa holders become eligible for R type visas after five years in the country.
- Technical visa: Technical visas are for foreign workers who provide specialized technical assistance for less than 180 days in a 365-day period.
- Digital nomad visa: The digital nomad visa is one of the newer visa types in Colombia, allowing individuals who are employed by foreign companies to live in Colombia for up to two years.
For a complete walkthrough on Colombian work visas, and how to apply, see our guide to work visas in Colombia.
New hire onboarding checklist
So, you’ve verified that your employee can legally work in Colombia. Now, you’re ready to move forward in the onboarding process. This is your opportunity to set your new employee up for long-term success. But, in order to do so, you’ll need a 90-day onboarding plan. Here’s an outline of some things you’ll want to include in those 90 days:
Before their first day
- Complete a background check.
- Send an offer letter in Spanish (more on that in the next section).
- Enroll them in benefits.
- Add them to payroll.
- Set up their app accounts and devices.
- Schedule their orientation.
- Assign them an onboarding buddy.
On Day 1
- Make sure their workspace is set up.
- Send a “welcome to the team” email.
- Give them an agenda.
- Have a get-to-know-you event.
- Show them around the office.
During their first 90 days
- Schedule training.
- Assign work and help them set goals.
- Schedule regular check-ins.
- Seek their feedback on how to improve the experience
Looking for the full list of onboarding musts? Read our guide on new hire onboarding in Colombia.
What to include in an offer letter in Colombia
An offer letter can seal the deal on your new hire, so it’s important to get it right. In Colombia, however, it isn’t required to have a written employment contract—verbal agreements are just as valid (in most cases).
Still, it can be helpful for you (and your worker) to put your agreement in writing. Here are some things you’ll want to include in an offer letter:
- Position, job title, and start date
- Contract term
- Probationary period
- Conditions of employment
- Background check
- Pay and benefits
- Leave policies
- Termination policies
- Non-compete and non-solicit agreements
Our guide gives you a full breakdown of drafting legally compliant offer letters in Colombia.
NDAs and confidentiality agreements in Colombia
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in Colombia are legally enforceable since Colombian law recognizes freedom of contract. But, the effectiveness of your NDA will depend on how well it’s drafted and the information that’s being protected. In Colombia, the following types of information can generally be covered by an NDA:
- Manufacturing processes
- Financial information
- Customer information
- Employee information
- Intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.
Learn more about the different types of NDAs and their benefits in our guide to NDAs in Colombia.
Running background checks on Colombia employees
You’re likely excited about onboarding your new Colombian employee. We get it! With that said, be sure not to skip the background check portion of the hiring process.
Background checks are not only allowed in Colombia but some are legally required—like immigration checks and education screenings. Here’s a full list of the most (and less) common background checks:
Common background checks
Less common background checks
Credit reports (depends on role)
Social media profiles
Driving records (depends on role)
Keep in mind, you need a candidate’s explicit consent before running any background screenings.
For all the details on running background checks in Colombia—and common mistakes to avoid—read our primer.
Paying employees in Colombia
Once you’ve decided whether to hire Colombian employees through an EOR or establish your own entity, the next step is selecting a payroll solution. There are generally two options for international payroll solutions: global payroll processors and global payroll aggregators.
With a payroll solution in hand, you’re ready for the following steps:
- Classify your employees correctly—are they contractors, full-time, or part-time?
- Capture their information including name, date of birth, postal address, passport, bank statements, and proof of valid health insurance.
- Input the payment amount in Colombian pesos (COP). It’s illegal to run payroll in any other currency.
- Calculate and withhold the correct payroll deductions.
- Run payroll.
As an employer hiring in Colombia, you’re responsible for the following payroll deductions:
0.52% – 6.96%
Family Compensation Funds
Family Welfare (ICBF)
National Apprenticeship Service (SENA) (applied only on integral salary)
Mandatory employee benefits in Colombia
Mandatory benefits in Colombia work differently than in other countries. Most countries require employers to offer employees certain benefits, like social security and healthcare. In Colombia, you can pay your employees in lieu of providing mandatory benefits, known as an “integral salary.” You can only do this if you and your employee sign a written agreement—which doesn’t apply to paid leave.
For employees who choose to receive all of their statutory benefits, here are the ones that are required:
- Social security contributions. Employers must contribute to the Colombian social security system as part of their income tax.
- Short- and long-term disability. On short-term disability, employees can receive two-thirds of their salary for up to 90 days. After that, they’re eligible for 50% of their salary for an additional 90 days, with a possible 180-day extension. Long-term disability pay is dependent on factors such as age and how/where the disability occurred.
- Healthcare. Public healthcare is legally required and provided by the Empresa Promotora de Salud (EPS). Both employers and employees pay into the EPS.
- Annual leave. Employees are entitled to 15 paid vacation days for each year of service after their first year. Leave is prorated for employees who have yet to work a full year.
- Sick leave. Employees receive 100% of their salary for the first two days of sick leave, paid by their employer. From the third day up to the 90th, they receive two-thirds of their salary from the social security system. From 91-180 days, they get 50% of their salary, also provided by social security.
- Parental leave. Pregnant employees and mothers who adopt children are entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave. Fathers receive two weeks of paid paternity leave. The parents can also choose to split the last six weeks of maternity leave.
- Public holidays. There are 18 statutory holidays in Colombia. Employees receive paid time off on these days. If a holiday falls on a weekend, they'll usually get a replacement holiday instead.
- Overtime pay. Employees can work up to 12 hours of overtime a week. Overtime should be paid at 125% of their usual wages. Overnight overtime or overtime on Sundays or holidays is paid at 175%.
- 13th-month salary. 13-month salary payments are mandatory in Colombia, typically paid in two installments.
- Severance pay. If you terminate an employee without just cause, they are entitled to severance pay. The amount is dependent on their earnings and duration of employment.
Check out our statutory benefits guide for the full list of mandatory benefits (and supplementary ones) in Colombia.
Managing remote employees’ computers and apps
In the age of remote work, managing employee devices around the world presents a new challenge: Shipping devices and configuring them all has to be done from afar. So, what’s the best way to handle your employees’ equipment?
Rippling can set up and secure employees’ accounts, with all the access and permissions they need. Additionally, you get a single place to set up, manage, and disable all employee apps—like Google Workspace. Read our guide to learn more about securing and managing employee devices.
Protecting company IP in Colombia
Your intellectual property can be your competitive advantage when protected correctly. But, understanding IP law in Colombia can be complex. You need to comprehend the different types of IP, the governing laws (Colombia belongs to many international treaties), and who has ownership over the intellectual property.
To get you started, here are the types of IP recognized in Colombia:
Each of the above-mentioned types requires registration with the appropriate agency (there are several), except for copyrights. No formal registration is required to protect a copyright in Colombia, though you can register works with the National Copyright Directorate (DNDA) for added protection.
Our primer covers all of the basics to IP rights and ownership in Colombia.
Complying with Colombia labor laws
The further along you get in the hiring process, the more pieces you have to keep track of—often at the same time. Navigating Colombian labor and employment laws adds a layer of complexity to the process. Remaining compliant with local laws is crucial and failure to do so can result in harsh legal consequences.
Learn more about the most important laws to beware of when hiring in Colombia, including:
- Written employment contracts aren’t required (usually). You only need a written employment agreement in specific circumstances, including if the contract is fixed-term, there’s a probationary period, the employee is receiving an integral salary, or the employee is receiving non-salary payments.
- Working hours are strictly regulated. According to Colombia’s Labor Code, employees can only work up to 47 hours a week. Sunday is a mandatory rest day, but employees can negotiate a different rest day instead.
- Employees can receive an integral salary. If the employee and employer agree to this, the employee can receive an integral salary in lieu of many of their statutory benefits. This does not apply to paid leave.
Terminating employees in Colombia
In Colombia, you can typically terminate an employee at any time and for any reason. But, if you do terminate an employee without just cause, you’ll be required to pay them severance. Moreover, notice periods aren’t required in Colombia, especially for employees on indefinite-term contracts. There are a few exceptions, however:
- 15 days of notice is required if an employee is terminated for reasons such as bad performance, failure to comply with obligations, addiction, inability to perform job-related tasks, chronic disease, and so on.
- 30 days of notice is required if an employee is on a fixed-term contract that will not be renewed upon expiration.
Employees on indefinite-term agreements are entitled to severance pay depending on their tenure and salary:
Employee's monthly salary
Less than 10 times the minimum monthly wage (in Colombian pesos)
30 days of salary for the first year of service and 20 additional days of salary for every following year
More than 10 times the minimum monthly wage
20 days of salary for the first year of service and 15 additional days of salary for every following year
Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.