On 17 June 2022, the Constitutional Court protected the fundamental rights to the vital minimum, dignity, and social security of a doctor who during the COVID-19 pandemic provided his services in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a Cartagena clinic, without receiving timely payment of his salary and social benefits.

The doctor pointed out that he continued to work for the clinic, despite the fact that its employer owed him three months of salary, social benefits, and the payment of contributions to social security, which caused him irreparable damage because he did not have other resources to cover his personal expenses and those of his household, since he has two children who also depend on that income.

The court recognized that the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic especially affected health sector workers, who had to risk their lives in compliance with the duties of caring, as is the case of the plaintiff as a general practitioner in the ICU and hospitalization service. This situation was also recognized by the national government when it included the COVID-19 virus as an occupational disease and dictated other special measures to protect workers in the health sector, as warned by the Ministry of Labor. For this reason, the court reiterated that the employer had violated the fundamental rights to life, social security, equality, the vital minimum and due process of a worker who served as a qualified frontline doctor during the pandemic, by not paying salaries, social benefits and social security contributions in a timely manner.

Reference: judgment No. T-182/2022.

Full text of the decision available at es