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03 December 2014
Following the introduction of the Constitution in 1991, labour law in Colombia entered into a period of flux, protecting workers and continually adapting to new social and economic contexts. Conditions in the country have moved on since then, creating constant change and new demands that Congress has had to address.
Unfortunately, most of the laws that the legislature has produced do not reflect the problems that workers and employers face on a daily basis. The common denominator in national legislation has been inefficient results. The exceptions are those statutes which contribute to the development of new directions in each branch of law, and labour law in particular.
The government bears significant responsibility for the creation of the regulatory decrees which shape the specific articles established in the laws that Congress issues. There are numerous examples of the legislative work which the government has carried out, such as the decree that regulates the public employment service.
Hydrocarbon exploration and production are popular business activities in Colombia. Most of the contracts conducted between the state and international companies relate to these activities. It is a big and complex market, in which companies must comply with environmental laws, respect specific tax obligations and create safe conditions for employees. As a result, labour regulations are needed to protect those who work for these companies on a daily basis.
Hydrocarbon companies sometimes bring their own international personnel to work in Colombia, thus restricting employment opportunities for local people. As a result, the government has created a new law (Decree 2089), which obliges companies to hire workers living in municipalities where hydrocarbon production and exploration takes place. The main purpose of the decree is to establish specific measures to facilitate and support the recruitment of local workers.
The decree states that the Ministry of Labour needs to consider the following criteria when determining where the new regulations will affect:
The decree establishes a new method for providing employment. Employers that need employees to work on their projects may employ them directly, taking the measures that the public employment service unit establishes into consideration, without having to go to an authorised operator. Further, those jobs can also be filled via authorised public employment service providers in the specific municipality. Under Article 31 of Law 1636/2013, employers are obliged to register public employment service vacancies through a specific authorised provider in the municipality where the project is taking place.
Although these changes may resolve some Colombian unemployment issues, the regulation could be considered a deterrent to investment in the hydrocarbon industry. The measure might have temporarily resolved labour issues found in a single part of the market, but Colombia needs to approve and issue employment statutes which have been on hold since 1991.
For further information on this topic please contact Diego Felipe Valdivieso Rueda at VS+M Abogados by telephone (+57 1 610 6180) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The VS+M Abogados website can be accessed at www.vsmlegal.com.
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Diego Felipe Valdivieso Rueda