How to Hire Employees in Colombia: Costs and Checklist

How to Hire Employees in Colombia: Costs and Checklist
Photo by Christine Ellsay / Unsplash

As you expand your operations into Colombia, a nation brimming with talented individuals, establishing a compliant and effective recruitment strategy is paramount. This comprehensive guide, meticulously crafted by your Colombian recruitment lawyer expert, equips you with the necessary knowledge and steps to navigate the hiring process with legal finesse and efficiency.

Charting Your Course: Employer of Record (EOR) vs. Direct Hiring

Two primary paths exist for hiring employees in Colombia:

  • Employer of Record (EOR): Partnering with a licensed EOR allows you to bypass establishing a legal entity in Colombia. The EOR assumes responsibility for payroll, taxes, benefits administration, and ensures legal adherence,streamlining your operations. However, EOR services incur additional fees.
  • Direct Hiring: Establishing a Colombian entity offers greater control for a more long-term presence. This route necessitates navigating company registration, payroll processing, and strict adherence to Colombian labor laws.

The Contractual Framework

Colombian law recognizes several types of employment contracts, each catering to specific scenarios:

  • Indefinite Term Contract: The most prevalent type, offering ongoing employment with a pre-determined probationary period.
  • Fixed-Term Contract: Limited to a specific timeframe, with justifications required for renewals exceeding three years.
  • Work or Service Contract: Ideal for specific projects or tasks, with compensation based on work completed.
  • Occasional, Accidental, or Transitory Contract: Suitable for short-term, non-recurring needs.

Key Considerations and Costs

  • Minimum Wage: Colombia has a statutory minimum wage that undergoes periodic adjustments. It is crucial to maintain awareness of the latest minimum wage requirements.
  • Social Security Contributions: Both employers and employees contribute to Colombia's social security system,encompassing healthcare, pensions, and unemployment. Employer contributions typically amount to approximately 25% of the gross salary.
  • Probationary Period: Probationary periods vary depending on the contract type. For indefinite term contracts, it cannot exceed two months.
  • Severance Pay: Upon termination, employees are entitled to severance pay calculated based on their salary and length of service.
  • Additional Costs: Depending on your chosen route, additional costs may include legal fees for entity establishment or EOR service fees.

Quickstart Checklist for Compliant Hiring in Colombia

  • Define your hiring strategy: Do you require an EOR or will you establish a legal entity?
  • Job Posting & Recruitment: Utilize recognized job boards or agencies while adhering to anti-discrimination laws.
  • Selection Process: Conduct interviews and background checks following fair and legal practices.
  • Employment Contract: Draft a clear and compliant contract in Spanish, outlining terms, compensation, and benefits.
  • Social Security Registration: Register your company and employee with the Colombian social security system.
  • Payroll Processing: Ensure timely and accurate payroll disbursement, factoring in social security contributions and taxes.
  • Compliance Updates: Maintain vigilance regarding changes in Colombian labor laws and regulations.

Holidays in Colombia

There're 18 nationwide holidays celebrated throughout the year:

  • Año Nuevo (New Year's Day) - January 1st
  • Día de los Reyes Magos (Epiphany) - January 6th
  • Día de San José (Saint Joseph's Day) - March 19th
  • Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday) - Variable (Thursday before Easter Sunday)
  • Viernes Santo (Good Friday) - Variable (Friday before Easter Sunday)
  • Primero de Mayo (Labour Day) - May 1st
  • Ascensión del Señor (Ascension Day) - Variable (39 days after Easter Sunday)
  • Corpus Christi - Variable (60 days after Easter Sunday)
  • Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart) - Variable (68 days after Easter Sunday)
  • San Pedro y San Pablo (Saint Peter and Saint Paul) - June 29th
  • Declaración de la Independencia de Colombia (Independence Day) - July 20th
  • Batalla de Boyacá (Battle of Boyacá) - August 7th
  • La Asunción (Assumption Day) - August 15th
  • Día de la Raza (Columbus Day) - October 12th
  • Día de los Santos (All Saints' Day) - November 1st
  • Independencia de Cartagena (Independence of Cartagena) - November 11th
  • La Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception) - December 8th
  • Navidad (Christmas Day) - December 25th


It's important to understand that Colombia uses Colombian Pesos (COP) as its currency, so the $3000 USD salary needs to be converted for this example. The conversion rate fluctuates, so let's assume a hypothetical rate of 4,000 COP per 1 USD for simplicity. This means the employee's salary is equal to 3000 USD * 4000 COP/USD = 12,000,000 COP.

Here's a simplified breakdown of potential taxes and deductions in Colombia, keeping in mind this is a general illustration and may not reflect your specific situation:

Income Tax:

  • Colombia uses a progressive tax system, meaning the tax rate increases as income rises. For a monthly salary of 12,000,000 COP, the employee might fall into the 9% tax bracket.
  • Their employer would withhold this income tax directly from their paycheck and remit it to the Colombian tax authority. In this example, the withheld amount would be approximately 12,000,000 COP * 9% = 1,080,000 COP.

Social Security Contributions

  • Both employers and employees contribute to Colombia's social security system. The employer's contribution rate is around 25% of the gross salary.
  • In this example, the employer's social security contribution would be roughly 12,000,000 COP * 25% = 3,000,000 COP.

Employee Deductions

  • The employee might be entitled to certain deductions, such as health insurance contributions or private pension plan contributions.
  • Let's assume the employee contributes 4.5% of their salary towards health insurance, which would be 12,000,000 COP * 4.5% = 540,000 COP.

Take-Home Pay

  • Considering the above simplifications, the employee's take-home pay would be:
    • Gross Salary - Income Tax Withholding - Employee Contribution to Health Insurance
    • 12,000,000 COP - 1,080,000 COP - 540,000 COP = 10,380,000 COP (approximately)

Engaging Expert Guidance

Hiring in Colombia presents a unique legal landscape. Consulting with a qualified Colombian recruitment lawyer can safeguard your interests and ensure compliance. They can assist you with:

  • Selecting the most suitable hiring structure (EOR vs. direct hiring)
  • Drafting legally sound employment contracts
  • Navigating social security and tax regulations
  • Staying updated on evolving labor laws
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified Colombian lawyer regarding your specific situation.

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