Sebastián Béndiksen, Our Managing Partner, Reveals the Opportunities and Challenges of Trade between Colombia and Peru in Revista Semana

Our managing partner and specialist in corporate law, Sebastián Béndiksen, shares his insight with Revista Semana on the entry of Peruvian companies into Colombia and its impact on the growing economic and commercial integration between these two nations.

Find out more about this business expansion and its potential contributions.

Read the news (in spanish) here.

FAQ: Teleworking, Working from Home and Remote Work

Currently, the hiring of workers who carry out their functions through information and communication technologies (“ICT”) has become popular. For this reason, the Colombian Ministry of Labor has regulated the different types of distance work agreements so that both employers and workers know their rights and comply with their obligations. Here we tell you what these types are and answer the most frequently asked questions about them: 

1. What does each of these types of distance labor agreements consist of?

  • Work-from-Home: This is an occasional, temporary and exceptional authorization that employers grant workers to perform their duties from home due to extraordinary circumstances that are expected to be overcome in time. It does not imply a modification or affectation of workers’ rights and guarantees or to the labor conditions agreed upon at the beginning of the labor relationship. This authorization may be granted for a maximum of six (6) months, unless the circumstances that gave rise to the authorization to work from home persist, in which case it will remain in force until such circumstances disappear.
  • Teleworking: Workers perform their functions using information and communication technologies (“ICT”) as support, so their physical presence at a specific workplace is not required. This type of agreements authorize three (3) types of teleworkers:
    • Autonomous: when workers use their own home or somewhere other than the place of business, previously agreed upon with their employers, and sporadically go to the company’s place of business.
    • Mobile: When workers relie on the use of mobile technological devices, but do not have a fixed workplace and occasionally go to the company.
    • Supplementary: Depending on the need for the service, workers work either from their house or from the company’s place of business.

  • Remote work: It is a form of performance of labor contracts in which ICTs or other similar means are used. That is, employers and workers do not interact physically since all stages of the contract are performed virtually. However, exceptional situations may be agreed upon in which the physical presence of workers in the workplace is required.

2. So how are they different?

The main difference is that work from home is the authorization granted by employers to workers to carry out their functions from home due to an extraordinary situation. Thus, it is a temporary authorization, so that once this extraordinary situation is overcome, workers must return to their place of work. On the other hand, remote work is completely virtual and there is never physical contact between employers and workers except in special circumstances. Finally, teleworking involves the provision of the service through technological means, but with the possibility that workers occasionally go to the workplace according to the company’s needs.

3. Must they be in writing?

Yes. For the authorization to work from home, a written notice by employers of the authorization given to workers is sufficient. That is, modification of the initial agreement or entering into a new one, is not required. However, this written notice must include certain information such as the situation that allows this authorization to be granted, the term of duration, the functions that workers must perform, among others. In the case of teleworking and remote work, it is necessary that employment contracts clearly indicate the chosen type of modality along with all conditions, obligations and rights that the parties will have. Thus, in the event that the initially agreed upon modality of work is to be changed, the original employment contracts must be modified. 

4. Is the right to disconnect recognized in all three types of agreements?

Yes, employers have the obligation to recognize workers’ right to disconnect from work in order to guarantee respect of their free time and breaks, so that workers can fully enjoy these spaces and reconcile personal and family life with work.

5. What is the digital connectivity aid?

It is a change in the destination of the legally mandated “transportation aid” for those workers who are temporarily enabled to work from home, in order to facilitate access to the connectivity services they require to continue performing their work from their residences. Thus, workers who earn up to two (2) legal monthly minimum wages (SMLMV, by its Spanish acronym) and who are entitled to the payment of “transportation aid”, will receive this payment as a digital connectivity aid during the time they provide their services under the authorization to work from home (article 10, Law 2088 of 2021).

6. Is it mandatory to recognize the digital connectivity aid in all three modalities of distance work?

No, as mentioned above, this aid should only be recognized for workers who: (i) earn up to two (2) SMLMV, (ii) are entitled to “transportation aid”, and (iii) are carrying out their functions under the temporary and transitory modality of work from home.

However, in the case of teleworking, it is possible to establish, by mutual agreement, a compensatory aid for the costs of public services such as Internet, landline and mobile telephony and energy. That is, workers and employers may agree on the recognition of this compensatory aid and its amount, as it is not mandatory. Similarly, in the case of remote workers, the parties are also free to agree on the payment of compensatory assistance, as it too is not mandatory. However, in the event that the aid is agreed upon, the amount may not be less than the value that has been established for the “transportation aid”.

7. Is it necessary for employers to provide workers with work items and tools?

Although employers may provide equipment and work tools suitable for the performance of the contracted functions, it is also possible to agree to workers’ use of their own equipment and tools. Additionally, the parties may agree on a compensatory fee for the use of these tools owned by workers, but it is NOT mandatory.

8. Must any process be carried out before the workers’ compensation administrators?

Yes. For any of the modalities it is necessary to notify the workers’ compensation administrators (ARL, by its Spanish acronym) of the chosen modality, the place where workers will carry out their functions, working hours and the type of risk. Likewise, in case there is any modification in this information, the ARL must also be informed.

9. Must workers be ordered to submit to occupational medical examinations?

Yes. Employers must order occupational medical exams when workers start working in the company, when they leave the company, after a medical leave and also periodically during the employment relationship, to identify workers’ health conditions. These evaluations may be conducted via telemedicine.

10. Is it necessary to have any special regulations in the workplace policy regarding these modalities?

No, the implementation of these modalities does not require an addition or modification to the workplace policies.

11. Must the Ministry of Labor be notified?

Only in the case of teleworking, since employers must inform the Ministry of Labor of the number of teleworkers that the company has, for which a digital form that the Ministry has established must be filled out.

For more information you can consult our entries on teleworking, work from home and remote work or you can contact us.

Requirement of Pre-Tax Registry to Create a Business before the Bogota Chamber of Commerce is Eliminated

One of the essential requirements to create a company, open branches of a foreign company or register non-profit entities, is the completion of a draft of the Tax Registry (RUT, by its Spanish acronym), known as “pre-RUT” and its filing before the Chamber of Commerce. This form contains all the information that allows the identification of the company and the individuals that constitute it. However, in order to simplify and expedite this process, the Bogota Chamber of Commerce and the Colombian National Tax Authority (DIAN, by its Spanish acronym) reached an agreement to eliminate this requirement.

The completion and submission of this “pre-RUT” form represented an additional process since it had to be reviewed and approved by DIAN officers, which implied a longer waiting time in the generation of the commercial registration. However, thanks to this decision to eliminate the “pre-RUT”, it is now only necessary to fill out the Business Registry Form (“RUES”, by its Spanish acronym) and submit it before the Bogota Chamber of Commerce virtually or in person, along with the other forms and documents required according to the type of company to be created. Once this application is submitted, the Tax Identification Number (NIT, by its Spanish acronym) will be obtained automatically and immediately, without any additional process being required.

It must be noted that the elimination of this requirement applies only to the Bogota Chamber of Commerce, that is, in the city of Bogotá and in the municipalities of Cundinamarca in which it has jurisdiction. However, it is expected that in the near future more Chambers of Commerce will join this decision in order to simplify this procedure throughout the country.

In case you require more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

FAQ: Registration of Books of Commerce Before the Chamber of Commerce

In accordance with article 19 of the Colombian Commercial Code, all merchants must be registered in the commercial registry and must register all acts, books and documents required by law. Specifically, with respect to commercial books, article 28 of the Colombian Commercial Code establishes that the Partners’ or Shareholders’ Registration Book and the Book of Minutes of the Meetings of Shareholders or Partners must be registered. In this regard, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions: 

1.Which are the books that must be registered and what do they consist of?

The books that must be registered are two: (i) the Partners’ or Shareholders’ Registration Book and (ii) Book of Minutes of the Meetings of Shareholders or Partners. In these books, as the name implies, records must be kept of the shareholders or partners that own the company and the minutes of the meetings that these partners or shareholders hold to discuss and make decisions regarding company matters.

In accordance with article 56 of the Colombian Commercial Code, these books may be of removable sheets or formed by a continuous series of cards, as long as the sheets or cards are numbered and allow their filing in order. They may also be kept in electronic files where the inalterability, integrity, security and conservation of information must be guaranteed.

2. Where and by whom must this registration be done?

The application for registration must be submitted by the legal representative, or a third party who has a validly granted power-of-attorney to perform this registration, before the Chamber of Commerce in which the company is registered.

3. When and how can this registration be made?

The registration of these books can be requested at any time and must be filed at the offices of the Chamber of Commerce in which the company is registered. However, in case of electronic books, registration must be done annually and can be done virtually. 

4. Where can these books be purchased? 

As for the acquisition of the Partners’ or Shareholders’ Registration Book and the Book of Minutes of the Meetings of Shareholders or Partners, there are two options:

  • They can be purchased in stationery stores where different options are offered, varying in the orientation of the sheets, the number of folios or pages available, among others.
  • It is usual for the Chambers of Commerce to provide the service of selling printed and coded sheets, allowing merchants to acquire only the amount of sheets they consider necessary and facilitating the process of numbering and coding the sheets, since it will be taken care of by the organization. Thus, it would not be necessary to buy a complete book but simply the amount of sheets that are required, which must be kept in folders that allow their proper storage and custody.

5. How should books be submitted for registration?

Merchants must submit blank books, that is, without any information, except for the consecutive numbering of the sheets with the selected code, as explained in the following section, and the name of the book. Likewise, the covers of the books must be labeled with the name of the book and the name of the company.

With respect to electronic books, it is enough to submit the virtual application for registration, filling out the information requested by the corresponding Chamber of Commerce, which will be responsible for reviewing and deciding on the application.

6. What documents must be submitted during this process? 

A written request executed by the legal representative must be submitted, specifying (i) the date of the application, (ii) the company name, (iii) the tax number of the company, (iv) the registration number, (v) the name or destination of the books (book of partners, shareholders, or minutes), (vi) the amount of useable sheets in each book, (vii) the consecutive numbering and (viii) the numbering range. In case the book has removable sheets, the code that will identify them must be indicated; this code must be between one (1) and six (6) characters and may be made up of letters and / or numbers. This code must be included in each of the sheets of the corresponding book. As an example, for the shareholders’ book, the code “SHA” may be chosen and for the book of minutes of meetings of shareholders or partners, the code “MIN”. In any case, any other code that complies with the aforementioned character limit and consists solely of letters and numbers may be chosen. 

Nonetheless, it is usual for the Chambers of Commerce to have a pre-established form that will facilitate this task because it will only be necessary to fill in the blanks with the information required by the Chamber. This form must be executed by the legal representative. Additionally, in the event that the person who is going to file the application is not the legal representative, a limited power-of-attorney by which they are granted the authority to file said application must also be presented, along with a copy of their ID. 

7. What should be done in case the book runs out of sheets or is lost?

In case the company already has a registered book but all the sheets have been used, a new book must be purchased and a new application for registration must be submitted. Thus, it is necessary to complete the registration application form again and submit, along with the new book, the previous completed book or a certificate issued by the statutory auditor or the public accountant of the company informing of the completion of the book or that it is about to be completed.

On the other hand, in case the book has been lost or destroyed, a new book must also be acquired and the registration application form must be completed again. Additionally, a copy of the complaint regarding the loss or destruction of the book, filed before the competent authorities, must be attached, which must include the company name, the book name and the Chamber of Commerce registration number of said book.

In case you have doubts about this or any other procedure before the Chamber of Commerce, do not hesitate to contact us