Thanks to the “Shared Leave Now” bill, fathers will be able to enjoy their newborns for longer

The Colombian Congress approved the bill “Shared Leave Now”, which seeks to extend the term of paid paternity leave, equalize the responsibilities of both genders in relation to childcare, and reduce inequality between men and women in terms of access to labor. This bill has four essential points:

  1. Extension of paternity leave. Paternity leave is the time given to a father to contribute with the arrival of his newborn and enjoyment with his partner. This leave currently lasts eight (8) business days, which are paid. The extension in paternity leave would be done according to unemployment reduction. For each percentage point that the unemployment rate decreases, a week will be added to the paternity leave until it is extended to five (5) weeks.
  1. Shared parental leave. This leave is granted to the mother and father so they can be absent from their jobs when their babies are newborn.
  1. Flexible parental leave. The leave is granted to both parents. They can freely distribute the last six (6) weeks of parental leave between each other.
  1. Measures against work discrimination. With the addition of the new types of parental leave and the extension of the paternity leave, Congress seeks to eliminate gender-based discrimination present on the labor market. Additionally, this bill aims to ban questions about reproductive or family plans, or sexuality in job interviews.

The co-author of this bill stated that when hiring personnel, employers tend to choose men over women, which constitutes a disadvantage for them in the labor market. According to the co-author, this preference is related to the time of maternity leave, which is eighteen (18) calendar weeks, during which women do not perform tasks for their jobs. They also acquire special guarantees such as “reinforced labor stability”. On the contrary, the paternity leave only lasts eight (8) business days and men do not acquire “reinforced labor stability” or any other type of employment guarantee during this period.

If you have any questions or concerns about this bill, please do not hesitate to contact BéndiksenLaw to help you solve them.

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The Colombian Congress approved reduction of the work-week

The Colombian Congress approved a bill that seeks to reduce the work-week from forty-eight (48) to forty-two (42) weekly hours, and the bill is now waiting for presidential approval.  The reduction in hours is meant to be gradual. During the first two (2) years after the law comes into force, there will be no reduction. The reduction will start in 2023 and until 2024 will decrease one (1) hour each year. After that, from 2025 until 2026, the work-week will be reduced by two (2) hours each year. The goal is that by 2027 the work-week will be forty-two (42) hours.

This reduction would not entail a wage reduction for workers. Likewise, it would not affect any rights or guarantees acquired by the workers with their employer. However, this project seeks to exonerate employers from the application of two concrete norms:

(i) Article 3 of Law 1857 of 2017, which refers to the possibility for employers and employees to agree to a flexible schedule or flexible working conditions so that employees can fulfil their duties of protection and accompaniment of their family.

(ii) Article 21 of Law 50 of 1990, which refers to the obligation of employers who have fifty (50) or more employees to dedicate two (2) weekly hours from the work-week to sports, cultural activities, or professional training.

There have been several initiatives to reduce the working schedule around the world that have had good results, proving that productivity can be maintained or even boosted. However, certain economic sectors are opposed to the bill because they considered that the work-week reduction alone does not entail an improvement. Those opposed to this bill have stated that to increase productivity of a company there needs to be: a reduction of time on internal processes, automatization of processes and an increase in training of employees, however, these strategies are not included in the bill.

The lack of these strategies, along with the decrease in the work-week, has generated a concern that there will be an overload for certain workers due to their inability of completing the workload in a forty-two (42) hour work-week, which will need to be completed later by the most diligent employees.

What do you think about this bill? BéndiksenLaw can help you solved any doubts on its implementation.

Colombia, COVID and economic reactivation

The Colombian government issued Decree 580 of 2021 which extended the “selective isolation” measures until September 1. However, the Decree seeks that mayors and governors establish measures that encourage a safe economic reactivation during the pandemic, allowing a gradual recovery for the business sector.

Decree 580 also seeks that when closure of economic activity is being considered by mayors due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, a favorable concept from the Health Ministry and the approval of the Interior Ministry will be required. This measure aims to prevent untimely closures of business activities, and harm to the economic sector.

With the moderation in closures and limitations of economic activities the government aims to stimulate business recovery, however, these measures are not enough on their own to foment reactivation to 100%. That is why the government has proposed additional measures like: (i) guaranteed credit lines, (ii) postponement of tax obligations, and (iii) strategies to encourage investment. These benefits will be available to all companies, but specially to micro and small companies due to the financial complications that these types of businesses have experienced during the pandemic.

Regarding credit lines, the Ministry of Commerce along with Bancoldex are looking to implement three credit line programs whose sum would be up to 700 billion COP. This sum will be split into: 200 billion COP directed to reinforce small and micro companies credit lines, 100 billion COP to support micro companies, entrepreneurs, and independent workers for investment, and 400 billion that will be focused on the rediscount line for all companies that have acquired debt due to the pandemic.

The National System of Agricultural Credit will have 15 billion COP available for investment or portfolio normalization. Likewise, the National Fund of Guarantees is setting up guaranteed credit lines, through its program “United for Colombia”, to micro financial companies and independent workers who are already part of their program.

Other support measures consist of: (i) the delay of the income tax fee of 2020 for small and micro companies, the first fee will be delayed by two months and the second fee will be delayed by five months from its original due date, (ii) the tax rate for advanced payment  for  taxable year 2021 is set at 0%, (iii) the “Reactivatech” initiative which seeks to reinforce businesses, knowledge, and digital tools for entrepreneurs and, (iv) strategies of remission of current and moratorium interests, to bring relief to debtors.

If you wish to know how to apply to any of these incentives or strategies of economic reactivation, BéndiksenLaw can guide you.

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