Home > Coronavirus/COVID-19 > Colombia’s labor & employment measures related to the Covid-19 outbreak

Colombia’s labor & employment measures related to the Covid-19 outbreak

I. Ministry of Labor

a. Guidelines for employers and employees concerning the Covid-19 outbreak

The Ministry of Labor issued Circular No. 017 of 2020, establishing the guidelines for public and private employers, independent contractors and professional risks insurance companies regarding the Covid-19 outbreak and the recommendations for employees depending on the possibility of contagion identifying three levels of contact with the virus: direct, indirect and medium.

The Ministry’s recommendations are the following:

a. Identify the risk of exposition for every employee.

b. Update the workplace health safety and security system with the recommendations of the circular, which are:

i. Establish a communication channel with the health departments in your city for possible cases of Covid-19.

ii. Keep the employees updated with the news (bulletins, official communications, etc.) from the Health and Labor Ministries and the National Institute of Health regarding response protocols facing the Covid-19 outbreak.

iii. Provide the employees with personal protective equipment depending on the recommendations and guidelines established by the Ministry of Health.

iv. Reinforce sanitary measures in the workplace and encourage the employees’ selfcare.

v. Train employees in the correct way to wash their hands and promote frequent hand wash. Supply the workplace with soap and other hygiene-related elements.

vi. Keep any surface in the workplace clean, including cellphones, computers and any other working tool.

vii. Forbid the sharing of personal protective equipment between employees.

c. In the event there are employees who previously traveled to China and do not present any symptoms during the first 14 days after their arrival, the following measures must be taken:

i. Permit these employees to work from their homes.

ii. Reduce the frequency of meetings and promote the use of alternate communication channels such as email, skype, etc. In the event these meetings are unavoidable, employees must maintain a distance of 3,2 feet between each one of them and the location must be properly ventilated.

iii. Report to the health institutions, authorities and the Ministry of Labor if the employee presents symptoms like fever or difficulty to breath, among others.

iv. Recommend employees not to use any equipment different from their own.

v. If the employee has contact with other people, evaluate the possibility of assigning temporary functions at least during the next 14 days after his/her arrival.

d. Employees must: i) comply with the protective measures adopted by the employer; ii) assist to the training sessions organized by the employer; iii) implement all the protective measures related to hand washing, healthy lifestyle habits and personal hygiene; iv) adopt the correct use of protective personal equipment; v) promote selfcare and be honest as to the information they provide on their health condition.

e. Employees who arrived from China and are asymptomatic 14 days after their arrival must: i) inform to the employer the traveling dates and visited places; ii) measure their temperature with a thermometer at least 2 times per day; iii) be aware of any symptoms related to the virus; iv) wash their hands frequently; v) if there is fever or difficulty to breath, they must use a face mask and request medical assistance, informing about the traveling dates and places visited while being in China.

2. Bogota’s Mayor’s Office

Bogota city’s Mayor issued Decree 081 of 2020, which establishes measures with the aim of reducing the risks of contagion of the Covid-19 in the city and contains recommendations for the citizenship.

The Decree states that:

a. The city must adopt sanitary measures and reinforce police actions in order to reduce the risk of contagion of Covid-2019 and its effects.

b. Suspend any event that gathers more than 1000 people in a closed space in which people cannot have a distance of at least 2 meters between each of them. This includes, but is not limited to:

i. Sports events.

ii. Concerts.

iii. Religious meetings.

c. Protective and preventive measures that every person must follow:

i. Wash your hands at least every 3 hours.

ii Maintain hydrated.

iii. Cover your mouth and nose with the inner part of your arm when sneezing or coughing.

iv. Avoid direct physical contact with other people (kisses, hugs, handshakes, etc.)

v. Avoid assisting to any event that gathers a significant amount of people unless it is strictly necessary.

vi. In case you are sick, wear a facemask and stay at home.

vii. In case of fever or other symptoms, communicate with the emergency line (123) before attending to emergency services.

viii. Take care of people whose age, health condition or other characteristics may expose them to worst symptoms related to the virus.

d. Protective and preventive measures for the community (private and public employers included)

i. Adopt remote working for the employees whose activities can be performed outside of the workplace.

ii. For employees who cannot work remotely, establish at least three different entrance/exit hours for the public transportation system not to be overcrowded during rush hours.

iii. Schools and any other educative institution must implement virtual classes.

iv. Public transport systems must keep their stations, buses and any other area that is necessary for the service, clean and sanitized.

e. Public and private hospitals and health services providers must:

i. Organize their efforts in order to provide domiciliary care all over the city, with the purpose of detecting possible cases of Covid-19.

ii. Distribute the equipment for domiciliary care and supervise the possible cases of Covid-19 that do not require hospitalization.

iii. Prioritize the domiciliary care attention of people infected with Covid-19, in order to avoid the congestion of the health system services (emergencies).

iv. Organize the delivery of medicines so patients who are not hospitalized do not have to claim them directly in the hospital.

v. Avoid shortage of facemasks, soap, hand sanitizers, etc., by acquiring them and establishing an adequate distribution.

3. Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health issued Resolutions No. 380 and 385 of 2020 which declared the sanitary emergency due to the Covid-19 outbreak and adopts the measures the country must implement to face the virus.

The Resolutions stated the following:

a. Resolution 380 of 2020

i. Establish a contingency plan for people arriving to Colombia from Italy, China, France and Spain.

ii. People arriving from these countries must be isolated during 14 days after their arrival and local authorities must monitor this procedure. Not complying with this measure can be sanctioned by the corresponding authority.

iii. Colombian authorities as the National Health Institute, immigration and local health secretaries are obliged to:

  • Practice the Covid-19 test applying the proper protocols.
  • Coordinate with the local governments the preventive and protective measures related to the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Adopt measures to protect children and elderly people.
  • Monitor people who arrived from Italy, Spain, China and France during the 14 days after their arrival.
  • Assign personnel in airports, ports, transport terminals, etc., who receive people arriving from other countries to evaluate them once they have entered Colombian territory.
  • Report to the National Health Institute any case in which there is suspicion of contagion to practice the correspondent test.
  • Verify that travelers arriving to Colombia have insurance or are registered in Colombia’s social security system.
  • Keep track of the people who arrived to Colombia from Italy, Spain, China and Italy, the place where they are staying and their contact information.
  • Inform about the sanitary measures that are currently in force in the country.
  • Notify about any positive case of Covid-19 and the medical treatment provided.
  • Authorize or deny the entry to the country of travelers coming from Italy, Spain, China or France.

b. Resolution 385 of 2020

i. Any public or private event with more than 500 attendants will be suspended and local authorities must adopt measures to comply with this.

ii. Mayors and Governors must evaluate the risks of contagion of Covid-19 in events that reunite less than 500 people in closed spaces or open air and determine if they must be suspended or postponed.

iii. Commercial establishments must comply with the hygiene and sanitary measures in their businesses for their customers and employees.

iv. Forbid the entrance of ships with passengers or goods to dock, ship or stock.

v. Administrators of horizontal property must adopt measures regarding spaces that can be a focus for contagion.

vi. Employers must adopt measures to prevent the contagion and permit employees to work remotely.

vii. Public transport companies must adopt the sanitary measures to avoid contagion of the virus.

viii. Public and private institutions, companies and everyone who has been appointed to comply with the measures ordered by different authorities must follow the recommendations stated in circulars, bulletins, etc.

ix. Colombian authorities and individuals must comply with the plans issued by the Ministry of Health as a response to the sanitary emergency due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

x. Mass Media must broadcast the current situation of the country during the sanitary emergency as well as the measures taken by the different authorities at no cost. This information must be spread in schedules with high rating and following the instructions of the Ministry of Technology and Communications.

xi. Health institutions must facilitate conditions for people to register via internet.

xii. In addition to these measures, the Ministry established a contingency plan as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak and can be modified depending on the current situation of the country.

xiii. Comply with the quarantine ordered in Resolution 380 of 2020 for people who arrived from Italy, Spain, China and France. Foreign travelers can decide to return to their home country in the event they consider it.

xiv. Not complying with these measures will imply the sanctions established in the Penal Code and in the Decree 780 of 2016.

4. Recommendations for employers

a. Possibility of permitting remote work.

i. It is possible to permit employees to work remotely as a measure to protect them from the possibility of contracting Covid-19.

ii. There are two ways of formalizing the possibility of employees to work from their homes:

iii. Executing an amendment to the employment contract in which the workplace will be modified temporarily as a response of the Covid-19 outbreak across the country. This agreement will not be permanent and the condition to reverse this change will be the reduction of risks related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

iv. Issuing a communication to all employees authorizing them to work from their homes as a measure to reduce the risk associated with contracting Covid-19 and indicating that this measure will end after the employer determines the risks related to the virus were reduced.

v. We recommend employers to notify this situation to the professional risks insurance company (“Administradoras de Riesgos Laborales – ARL”) and ask if this measure will be treated as remote work in the terms of Law 1221 of 2008 or not due to the nature of this change since the motivation behind permitting employees to work from a place outside the employer’s offices is not a reorganization of the employer’s labor force and will be temporary.

vi. The risk related to this measure to be treated as remote working will be the necessity of executing an amendment to the employment contract in which the conditions for remote work will be established according to Law 1221 of 2008. It is possible to revert this agreement since only employees whose contracts stated or allowed remote work since the beginning will be permanent.

vii. If these employees are treated as remote workers, the employer must assume the costs of the phone, electricity and internet bills in proportion to the increase of the bill’s value for the time the employee is working from his/her home. In addition to that, the ARL will study the workplace of the employee and make recommendations regarding the employee’s workstation (chair, desk, illumination, etc.)

viii. If they are not treated as remote workers, there will not be any additional obligations for permitting them to work outside the employer’s offices and a communication notifying the temporary measure of remote working should be enough.