Article 167 of the Labor Colombian Code, establishes that “working hours during a work day, must be distributed in two sections, with at least one break or intermediate period, that rationally suit the nature of the work and the employee’s needs. Such resting time is not part of the working day”.
In this sense, Colombian labor law divides the working day of all employees in two sections, depending on their particular conditions (such as: position, duties, working schedule, kind of work, among others), with the purpose to grant them a minimum rest period during their working hours. As a general rule, such rest corresponds to the lunch period and its average duration is between one and two hours, depending on the employer’s will.
Furthermore, Article 5 of Law 1355 of 2009, as a strategy to promote physical activity ordered the Ministry for Social Protection to regulate mechanisms for all companies in order promote rest breaks during the working hours for their employees. In this sense, granting such breaks is legal mandate.
In practice, most companies have implemented rest breaks during the working hours, in order to allow employees to stop for a few minutes once or twice a day to relax. However, not every Company allows their employees to enjoy such breaks, taking into account that employers cannot discount such periods from the working hours; they can decide how long they can last, and even define the schedule strictly. Omission to follow these rules could be considered as a breach of work obligations.
Finally, is important to establish that granting a rest break during the working hours, does not mean an obligation for the employees to recuperate lost time.
In our view, providing rest breaks (in the morning and/or in the afternoon), apart from being mandatory as mentioned above, is a good practice that allows employees to recover energy and increase their productivity; have better places to work, and help organizations to be aligned with health and safety provisions.
Accordingly with Colombian regulations rest breaks can improve employees’ health and physical condition, preventing people from falling into a sedentary lifestyle providing dynamism to the working hours.