Labor cost overruns due to night and Sunday surcharges are one of the main concerns that entrepreneurs in the country have regarding the project of labor reforms that the Government is preparing and that it expects to file before Congress on March 16.

And it is that one of the proposals that is being discussed between the Government, unions and employers is that the night shift do not go from 9:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning, but start from 6:00 in the afternoon, so working after that time would be considered as extra. In addition, it is sought that the surcharge for working on a Sunday or holiday is not 75 percent but rises to 100 percent.

(You can also read: Reduction of the working day: when does it come into force and what changes does it bring)

This greater recognition of work on holidays and night shifts would increase the labor costs of companies, above all, from some sectors that work more at night. For this reason, different businessmen affiliated with the Forum of Presidents prepared themselves to listen to the Vice Minister of Labor, Edwin Palma, and comment on his concerns regarding the possible changes that are coming in labor matters.

“We are concerned about issues such as labor costs, flexibility or union issues. However, we want to build and participate to create a better public and private agenda. We are defenders of private companies,” said Gustavo López Tobón, president of the Forum of Presidents, which brings together more than 200 companies in the country.

The Vice Minister of Labor explained to them that the issue of cost overruns will be part of the deliberation of the project and that they have already met with the night economy sector, one of the sectors that would be most affected if these changes materialize.

For example, one of the requests from the businessmen was that they should discuss the hiring by the hour, above all, for the tourism sector; However, the vice minister said that he would not get involved in the project, since this formula only leads to more precariousness and almost the impossibility of retiring. «There are schemes that make it possible to meet these peaks in demand, such as temporary service companies,» he pointed out. Of course, make sure that they are talking with the agricultural unions to see if a different rural labor regime can be established.

Another of the issues that I tell you is that the contract for the provision of services will not have to disappear as such if it is used well. “If the contract is used to subordinate a person, it is no longer for services. We must formalize the largest number of state workers. In the public sector we must set an example”, declared Palma.

Likewise, it was mentioned that they are advancing discussions on the issue of digital platforms so that they put aside the discussion about whether there is an employment relationship or not, workers will have collective rights. It will also ensure that the reform will address issues such as collective bargaining and that unions can be strengthened. “We need a strong and serious trade unionism”, he opined.

The working day will be reduced in Colombia until reaching 42 hours in 2026.


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How is the discussion going?

Until now, in the work tables of the labor reform, a total of 18 topics have been considered. Among them are some such as job stability, outsourcing, surcharges, work on digital platforms or rural employment, among others.

Both unions and employers have already made requests to the Minister of Labor, Gloria Ines Ramirez. Although they all agree that the reform should reduce informality and generate greater protection for workers, on some points they have quite different proposals.

Next week the stage of receiving inputs will be closed to make way for the construction of the articles. «We want them to be the most suitable proposals so that we have an article of a convenient reform,» said Ramírez.

Union requests

Francisco Maltés, president of the CUT

Among the requests made by the workers unions In the middle of the discussion are some such as that fixed-term contracts are limited, that paternity leave is increased to 12 weeks or that nighttime surcharges start at 6 in the afternoon.

“It is required that all those people who fulfill permanent functions in the private company or the public sector have an employment contract or a legal relationship. In addition, that a decent work policy is built and that nighttime surcharges be returned from 6 in the afternoon,» said the President of the CUT, Francisco Maltés.

Specifically, the unions ask that indefinite hiring be the general rule and that the use of the fixed-term contract be limited. It also proposes that employment in the rural sector be formalized or that severance pay be paid in accordance with the previous regulations of Law 789 of 2002.

Likewise, Maltés assured that it is necessary to end the wage gaps in the private sector between men and women and that all platform workers have the right to health and social security.

Merchant requests

On the business side, phenalco He made public his labor reform proposal consisting of 10 points. For example, outsourcing may continue to be an option for both workers and employers and the night surcharge may be eliminated for those activities that by their nature can only be performed at night. The merchants also say that it is necessary to bet on hybrid work models and that part-time employment must be formalized.

From the Colombian Association of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Acopi), its president, Rosmery Quintero, requested that the compensation funds assume what corresponds to the day of the family. In addition, she said that the mandatory nature of the 30-day notice should be resumed at the time of the termination of a labor contract.