On November 17th, the Senate of the Republic of Colombia approved in last debate the Right to Disconnect bill that seeks to guarantee respect of workers’ free time and breaks so that they can fully enjoy these spaces and reconcile personal and family life with work. This bill will enter into force once it is sanctioned by the President and published.
This initiative establishes that employers will not be able to contact their workers for work issues through any means at hours that are not part of the work schedule, nor in workers’ vacations, leaves, permits or breaks. In the event that this is breached, workers may use the means provided by the employer to file the corresponding complaint. However, this does not prevent workers from also resorting to Labor Inspectors, or to the Attorney General’s Office in the case of public servants, considering that the persistent or recurrent infringement of this right may be understood as workplace harassment. Likewise, employers must bear in mind that they may not demand compliance of any type of agreement or pact that does not respect this right and non-compliance by workers may not be considered as a breach of their labor obligations, which is why penalties of any kind or dismissal may not be imposed on those who make use of their right to disconnect.
Additionally, in order to ensure effective compliance with these provisions, a labor disconnection policy must be implemented by all employers. This policy must refer to the way in which this right is guaranteed and exercised and the guidelines regarding the use of Information and Communications Technologies. Likewise, it must establish the means available to workers to file complaints in their own name or anonymously, in case they consider that their right to disconnect from work is being ignored or affected. Such complaints should be dealt with through a special procedure that ensures due process, the resolution of the dispute and the cessation of the breaching conduct.
However, workers and public servants who hold positions of direction, trust and management and those who perform tasks that require their permanent availability, may not benefit from the provisions of this bill. Likewise, employers may contact their workers after working hours or during their rest times when situations of force majeure or fortuitous events required it, during which the continuity of the business and its correct operation are threatened. However, these situations must be duly justified.
At BéndiksenLaw we are aware of the legislative changes relevant to your company. If you have any questions about the application of the right to disconnect from work, please contact us.