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The Ministry of Labor has issued circulars about what is happening with COVID-19 . In Cuadro Legal we seek to provide you with information in a clear and simple way, that is why we have prepared this summary of the circulars.

Circular 0017 dated February 24, 2020

Employers, contractors, dependent workers and contractors shall comply with the following prevention and promotion measures:

  1. Timely communication channels should be established for the notification of suspected cases of COVID-19 to the competent health authorities. Information that must be provided in a timely and truthful manner.
  2. The employer and contractor must have a notification route in place that includes the contact information of the District, Departmental or Municipal Secretariats.
  3. The protocols and procedures defined by the Ministry of Health must be applied in relation to the preparation, response and attention to COVID-19 cases.
  4. Employers and contractors must guarantee the timely and permanent dissemination of all bulletins and communications issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and workers and dependent contractors must be informed about the generalities and guidelines given in relation to alarm symptoms, guidelines and protocols for the preparation and response to cases of COVID-19.
  5. Employers and contractors must follow the guidelines, recommendations and advice provided by the occupational risk management companies – ARL, regarding promotion and prevention for the preparation, response and care in cases of COVID-19 disease.
  6. Employers and contractors must provide personal protective equipment according to specific recommendations in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
  7. In all cases, cleanliness, prevention and self-care measures should be reinforced in the workplace.
  8. The employer and contractor must train workers on proper hand washing techniques and promote frequent hand washing and provide workers with soap or other disinfectant substances for proper hand washing, as well as towels for drying hands.
  9. Work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other work devices and equipment frequently used by workers should be kept clean.
  10. Workers are required not to share personal protective equipment.

The Professional Risk Administrators must apply the protocols, procedures and guidelines adopted by the Ministry of Health, as well as provide advice and technical assistance to employers, contractors, dependent workers and contractors on the hazards related to biological risk, especially COVID-19.

In the same way, it is the responsibility of the workers:

  1. They must comply with the prevention measures adopted in the workplaces by the employer or contractor.
  2. Attend the training courses provided by the employer or contractor or the entity that administers Labor Risks.
  3. Practice hygiene techniques, healthy habits and hand washing.
  4. Use personal protective equipment and be responsible for the proper use of such equipment.
  5. Workers have the responsibility to take care of their health and to provide clear, complete and truthful information about their health status.

Circular 0021 of 2020 dated March 17, 2020

Employment protection measures during the COVID-19 containment phase and the declaration of health emergency.

  1. Work at home: in any sector of the economy, in the case of an occasional, temporary and exceptional situation, it is possible for the employer to authorize work at home. This modality is different from teleworking; to opt for this modality there must be an agreement between the worker and the employer. Law 1221 of 2008, defines as characteristics of work at home that: “a person who has the status of an employee shall not be considered a teleworker by the mere fact of occasionally performing his work as an employee at his home or in a place other than the employer’s work premises, instead of performing it at his usual place.”
  2. Teleworking: Teleworking is a form of labor organization, which consists of the performance of remunerated activities using information and communication technologies as a support for the contact between the worker and the company, without requiring the physical presence of the worker at a specific work site. Teleworking is not subject to the provisions on working hours, overtime and night work, without being able to impose high workloads.
  3. Flexible working day: as a general rule it is indicated that the working day may be established by the employer or set with the limits of the law, which indicates a maximum of eight (8) hours per day and 48 hours per week, however the limit may be distributed in a variable manner during the respective week having a minimum of four (4) continuous hours and a maximum of ten (10) hours per day without surcharge for extra work, when the number of hours does not exceed 48 hours per week within the ordinary working day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Under these conditions, the employer has the right to reduce or extend the established working day depending on the needs of the service or special needs without this term being counted as overtime. Similarly, the employer may choose to work shifts of no more than six hours a day and thirty-six hours a week, which may be performed at any time or day of the week, without this situation generating any surcharge.
  4. Annual, early and collective vacations: the vacations to which the employee is entitled for having rendered services during a year may be granted; likewise, they may be granted to the employees before causing the right, which is known as early vacations. On the other hand, workers may set collective vacations for their employees, even if they have not completed one year of service, for which it must be taken into account that these must be remunerated with the salary earned by the employee at the time of enjoyment and that the employee may not demand that he/she be assigned a new vacation period after completing one year of work.
  5. Paid leave-Salary without rendering of service: it is the employer’s responsibility to grant leave in cases of serious domestic calamity duly proven. There is also the possibility of a salary without the provision of services by the employer, on a voluntary and generous basis.

Important note: All the measures announced in this circular do not exonerate the employer from complying with its obligations, in particular, the payment of salary, social security contributions and all those derived from the labor relationship.

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