Work and Wages

This page was last updated on: 2021-11-23

Minimum Wage

The Political Constitution of Colombia provides for equal opportunities for minimum wage. Labour Code also provides for minimum wage. In accordance with the Labour Code, minimum wage is the minimum remuneration that all workers are entitled to receive to ensure them and their families a decent quality of life in the material, moral and cultural level.

The monthly minimum wage is set by the Permanent Commission on the Harmonization of Wage and Labour Policies. The Permanent Commission is a tripartite body with five representatives each from worker, employer and government groups. The Commission is constituted under article 56 of the Colombian Constitution which requires establishment of a permanent commission, composed of the government, the representatives of employers, and of workers, to promote sound labor relations, contribute to the settlement of collective labor disputes, and coordinate wage and labor policies.  A tripartite departmental Subcommittee on Wage and Labour Policy is constituted under the Commission, which works on minimum wage setting. The first date for agreement on minimum wages expires on 15 December. Those who do not agree with proposed minimum wage rate must explain their reservations within 48 hours. The parties are obliged to study these reservations and establish their position within the next 48 hours. The final agreement must be reached on or before 30 December. If the Commission cannot reach a consensus by December 30 of each year, the national government fixes the monthly minimum wage through a decree.  The legislation provides that minimum wage can also be determined by collective agreement provided that it cannot be lower than legal minimum wage.

Minimum wage rate is adjusted to ensure decent quality of life for the worker and his/her family in the material, moral and cultural level. Other factors that are taken into account while determining the minimum wage include the cost of living of each region, contribution of wages to the GDP, economic capacity of the undertakings and employers, the inflation rate, and the conditions of each region and activity. Minimum wage for farm workers should take into account facilities the employer provides its employees in regard to accommodation, crops (food), fuel and similar circumstances that reduce the cost of living.

Minimum wage rate is applicable to all without any discrimination on the basis of occupation, or sector or religion. It is adjusted on yearly basis. Compliance with labour laws (both in public and private sector) including minimum wage ensured through labour inspection system. The Special Unit for Labour Inspection, Vigilance and Control, working under the Ministry of Labour, executes measures of prevention, inspection, monitoring and control in the country. Failure to comply with labour legislation may result in fine ranging between one and one hundred times the current minimum wage rate depending on the seriousness of the offence. 

Source: §53 of the Constitution of Colombia 1991; §1, 4, & 145-148 of the Substantive Labour Code 1950, amended in 2021; §1-8 of the Law No. 278 of the Permanent Commission on the Harmonization of Wage and Labour Policies 1996; Decree relating to the Operation and Structure of the Ministry of Labour, 2003 (No. 205)

Regular Pay

In accordance with the Labour Code, wage does not only mean the ordinary remuneration, but all that the worker receives in cash or in kind as a direct compensation for the service rendered.

Article 134 of the Labour Code requires that wage period must not be greater than a week for daily workers and that the monthly workers must be paid once in a month. Wages must be paid in legal tender at the workplace during working hours or immediately after work. Wages are paid directly to the worker or to a person authorized (in writing) by the worker.

Payment of wages in kind, wholly or partially, is permitted as a part of the remuneration and it may consist of food, accommodation or garments to the worker or his/her family. The employment contract expressly provides these allowances however; these may not exceed 30% of the minimum wage.

The employer is not allowed to deduct, withhold or offset any amount of salary without worker's consent. The employer is authorised to deduct wages for discounts, union dues, legally authorized savings cooperatives, contribution to compulsory social security, and disciplinary sanctions imposed pursuant to approved Regulation. The employer and employee may agree in writing to grant loans, advances, deductions, withholding of wages or compensation, indicating the deadline for the gradual repayment of debt.

According to the Labour Code, failure in compliance with labour legislation is a criminal offence and leads to fines of between one and one hundred times the current minimum wage rate depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Source: §134-140 & 149-153 of the Substantive Labour Code 1950, amended in 2021

Regulations on Work and Wages

  • Código del Trabajo, 1951, modificado en 2011 / Labour Code (Codigo del Trabajo), 1950, amended in 2011
  • Ley N º 278 de la Comisión Permanente sobre la Armonización de Políticas Salariales y Laborales, 1996 / Law No. 278,The Permanent Commission on the Harmonization of Wage and Labour Policies, 1996
  • Constitución de Colombia, 1991 / The Constitution of Colombia, 1991

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