In Colombia, Article 51 of the Labor Code states the causes for suspension of the labor contract, including among others, the faculty of the employer to suspend the employee(s) due to serious misconduct after conducting a disciplinary investigation. In this case, the law limits the sanction to eight (8) days of suspension of the activities for the first time and up to two (2) months when it happens again.
The suspension is one of the disciplinary measures contamplated in the law and the employer could suspend the employee for a different number of days as long as it respects the abovementioned limit. In fact, in the Internal working regulations (Reglamento de Trabajo) –which is a mandatory document according to Colombian law– usually mentions the corresponding days of suspension depending on different factors such as: failure to comply with the labor obligations and the employer´s industry. For instance, in a medical institution the punctuality is a key aspect, thus the sanction could be more severe than in other companies.
When an employer is interested in starting a disciplinary procedure against an employee to sanction him/her, it must send a formal communication listing the misconducts as well as the facts and legal provisions that served as grounds (which can be verbal or written). During this process, the employee has the right to defend himself/herself and even appeal to the employer’s decision to sanction.
On the other hand, the fact that an employee has been sanctioned more than once could lead to the termination of the labor contract. In this sense, if the employee has been suspended repeatedly for the same action, the employer has the faculty to terminate his/her labor contract with cause.
Finally, during the suspension period of the labor contract the employer is not obliged to pay salary, since the employee is not rendering any services. The employer can deduct such period at the final liquidation for severance aid payment and vacations. However, the employer shall continue to pay the contributions to the Social Security System in health and pension. There is no obligation to pay contributions to the General System of Labor Risks since there is no risk of labor accident or occupational illness.