One of the most important discussions in economic matters each end of the year has to do with the readjustment of the minimum salary. However, only 15.7% of the total employed personnel in Colombia earn a salary equivalent to a minimum wage.
According to official data, this percentage represents some 3.4 million people out of a total of 22 million workers in the country.
For his part, 41.2% of the workforce earns more than one minimum wage, who will not benefit from the 16% increase for next year, taking into account that this adjustment only applies to those people who earn the SMMLV.
So, if you are a worker who earns more than the minimum, can you aspire or not to have your salary raised?
It should be noted that although for those salaries that exceed the minimum, there is no legal provision that orders the increase or readjustment, the Jurisprudence recommends and expresses the need for employers to recognize in those salaries the loss of purchasing power of money.
In this case, it is suggested that the adjustment be made based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the immediately preceding year. However, its application is not mandatory and employers can determine the increase if they so decide.
In a recent interview with Portafolio, Stefano Farné, director of the Labor Market and Social Security Observatory at the Externado de Colombia University, stated that increasing the salary for those workers who earn more than the minimum could help improve the work environment and productivity. .
“In the case of workers who earn more or less than the minimum, the ideal would be to increase at least inflation or an increase in prices for the year that closes”said the expert.
In the event that the worker earns a full salary, which is 10 current monthly minimum wages, the company is obliged to raise his salary every year.
The reason, explained Octavio Rubio, a professor at the Central University and an expert in labor law, is that since these salaries are valued according to minimum wages, so that they do not lose their comprehensive status, they must be adjusted each year with changes in that minimum.
If the employee does not have a comprehensive salary, the situation becomes more controversial. For Rubio, for example, there is no rule that formally obliges companies to raise the salary of their employees who earn more than the minimum and who do not have full salary every year.
This is because, he assures, the vital minimum and mobility on salary established by the Constitution “they have been interpreted in relation to the current legal minimum”, not about any higher salary.
On the other hand, the employer would be obliged, he affirms, if that increase was established in collective labor agreements, in labor contracts, or in union agreements. He would also be if, for example, he raises the salary of some of his employees, but not others who perform the same functions.
On this, he said, there is a lot of jurisprudence and it has been taken as a fundamental principle that there must be a “equal pay for work of equal value”. This claim would proceed when two people do the same activity, have similar experience, seniority or knowledge and earn differently.
For Iván Jaramillo, a researcher at the Labor Observatory of the Universidad del Rosario and a professor at the Faculty of Jurisprudence, it is not true that companies should not raise the wages of their employees who earn more than the minimum.
According to Jaramillo, since inflation each year implies the loss of purchasing power of nominal wages, “the Constitutional Court has indicated that not adjusting the salary to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) supposes an enrichment without just cause for the employer”. This is because, says Jaramillo, not adjusting wages leads the employer to pay less “for the same availability and services of the worker”.
It adds that companies are obliged to adjust each year the salaries that are higher than the minimum, at least with the percentage of the CPI “to ensure that remuneration maintains its purchasing power.”
Jaramillo also affirms that if time passes and the employer does not adjust the salary to the inflation index, he would be unjustly enriching himself, “Since the salary is a debt of value that must be updated and respected within the framework of remunerative employment.”
That obligation, he assures, is in article 53 of the Political Constitution, which determines that remuneration must be minimal, vital and mobile. It is precisely this mobility that implies that the salary cannot remain static. In addition, Jaramillo assures, the ILO agreement 095 also talks about this salary protection.
With information from Justice