As of July 15, 2023, all workers will go to their workplace one hour less per week. Of the current 48, the workday it will have 47 by law. Of course, companies may not reduce the salary of employees in any case. Otherwise, they will be exposed to sanctions.

This reduction is due to Law 2101 of 2021, which was led by the former senator of the Democratic Center Alvaro Uribe and which determines that the Colombian working day will gradually decrease until reaching 42 hours a week in 2026.

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Companies will have to prepare and reach agreements with their employees so that they work one less hour this year, another less in 2024, reduce two in 2025 and another two in 2026.

For this, the law determines that these hours must be distributed by mutual agreement between the employees and the workers. between 5 and 6 days a week, always guaranteeing that employees have a day off.

What is the impact?

This norm was rejected from the beginning by the private sector due to the economic impact it can have on the finances of companies, even more so when they are still recovering from the blow of the pandemic.

According to the employers, the reduction of working hours will increase the cost of labor because every hour less becomes extra and companies will have to assume additional charges on their payrolls if they want to continue doing the same work as today.

Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco), told EL TIEMPO that they calculate that the labor cost increases by 2 percent each year; however, he stressed that the impact of this 2023 will be even stronger because the minimum wage received by more than 3.5 million people in Colombia rose 16 percent, to 1,160,000 pesos, which represented the mayor increase this century and a real increase (discounting inflation) of 3.36 percent.

“By 2023, in addition to the 16 percent growth in the minimum wage, we will have an additional 2 percent increase in labor costs due to reduced working hours. This is without counting the announced labor reform that would change the daytime and night shifts, Sundays and holidays and will have an additional impact of 12 percent. With this, businessmen may be affected by about 30 to 35 percent of labor costs this year”, highlighted the leader of the merchants.

Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of Fenalco.

Photo:

Cesar Melgarejo / EL TIEMPO

Given this, the Vice Minister of Labor, Edwin Palma, explained that the issue of cost overruns It is part of the deliberation of the labor reform project that the Government is advancing hand in hand with unions and employers and who have already met with the night economy sector, one of the sectors that would be most affected if these changes were to materialize.

Parachute Bruce MacMaster, president of the Andi, care must be taken not to generate measures that will eventually aggravate the employment situation that is expected this year. When the law was presented, the union calculated that, on average, to cover the eight hours not worked in the week, companies will have to bear an average weekly cost of 85,309 pesos per person. And that if this was multiplied by the 6.2 million employees who work more than 40 hours, it would leave an annual cost of 26.9 trillion pesos, which is equivalent to 2.7 percent of GDP.

“The president has already highlighted the risk we have of not generating employment, to this is added the situation of global stagnation of the economy and the structural problems of the Colombian labor market. So this and other measures that eventually want to be done in the workplace will have to be very careful not to be the cause of higher unemployment, ”he said.

It must be remembered that the unemployment rate in Colombia fell in November 2022, the latest data revealed by Dane, to 9.5 percent. However, at the national level the unemployed population is still 2.4 million people.

Also Rosmery Quintero, president of the Colombian Association of Medium and Small Companies (Acopi), assured that this reduction will affect both productivity and the generation of new jobs.

Companies, to prepare

Catalina Santos, partner of the labor team of the firm Brigard Urrutiais of the opinion that taking into account that there is still a period of seven months to start implementing the mandatory reduction in working hours, it is recommended that companies carry out an analysis of the hours that they have agreed with their workers, either in their individual contracts or in conventions or collective agreements, to establish the impact of this measure.

This impact could be of an economic nature, since the surcharges for additional work will now have to be paid from the moment the new maximum working day is exceeded

“This impact could be of an economic nature, since the surcharges for additional work must now be paid from the moment the new maximum working day is exceeded, or even if it is necessary to hire more workers to meet the productive needs of the company. ”, explains the lawyer.

Regarding how workers and employees could negotiate, Brigard Urrutia’s lawyer opined that agreements can be made, as long as the terms established by law are respected for the reduction in working hours to be applied.
In fact, it says that the paragraph of article 1 of the law states that the National Government at the head of the Ministry of Labor must convene technical roundtables with unions and unions to strengthen productivity and thus be able to reduce a possible negative impact that the reduction entails. of the journey.

sanctions

Once the terms of Law 2101 of 2021 have expired, any company that does not comply with each of them and decides not to reduce the hours may be subject to sanctions by the Ministry of Labor. The worker may also go to the ordinary labor courts in the event that the worker is not recognizing the additional surcharges according to the new maximum working day.

“Likewise, in the event of an accident at work or occupational disease where the exhaustion of the worker is a determining factor, the employer could be responsible for the damages caused to the worker through actions of employer fault”, says the lawyer.

NOELIA CIGÜENZA RIAÑO
Writing Economy and Business