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Bulgaria
 


Source and scope of regulations - 2019    

References
  • Labour Code [LC], SG, No. 26 and No. 27, 1986, as subsequently amend. and suppl. SG. 92/6 Nov 2018.; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
  • Employment Promotion Act, SG, No. 112, 2001, as subsequently amended up to 29.12.2015 (SG, No. 105)
    An updated version is available in Bulgarian at: https://www.mlsp.government.bg/ckfinder/userfiles/files/politiki/zaetost/zakonodatelstvo/ZAKON_za_nasyrcavane_na_zaetostta_12_2015.docx; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
Scope
Size of enterprises excluded (≤): 20
Remarks:
  • Exclusion only applicable to collective dismissals: see collective dismissal definition in Supplementary provisions, § 1 (9) LC.
    The rules on individual dismissals apply to all enterprises.

Workers' categories excluded: civil/public servants; police; army; judiciary
Remarks:
  • No details on the scope of application in the LC.
    However see : Prof. Vassil Mrachkov, "Termination of employment relationships - The legal situation in Bulgaria", EU Commission, 2006, p. 14. Available at:
    ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=4625&langId=en

Types of employment contracts - 2019    

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Maximum probationary (trial) period: 6 month(s)

Remarks:
  • Art. 70 LC

Fixed term contract (FTC):
  • FTC regulated: Yes
    Remarks:
    • Fixed Term Contracts are regulated in the Art. 68 LC which states the following:
      (1) An employment contract for a fixed term shall be concluded:
      1. for a definite period which shall not be longer than 3 years, insofar as a law or an act of the Council of Ministers do not provide otherwise;
      2. until completion of some specified work;
      3. for substitution for an employee who is absent from work;
      4. for working at a job which is to be taken through a competitive examination, for the time until it is taken on the basis of the competitive examination.
      5. (New SG, No.25/2001) for a certain mandate, where such has been specified for the respective body.

      (2) (New SG, No. 48/2006) Employees with a temporary contract under par. 1 have the same rights and obligations as employees under an employment contract for an indefinite time. They can not be put in a disadvantage only because time-sensitive nature of their employment compared to employees under an employment contract for an indefinite time, performing the same or similar work in the enterprise, unless the law sets the benefit of some rights depending on the qualification or skills acquired. Employees on fixed-term contracts can not be placed in a less favorable position compared to other employees who work on contract for an indefinite time.
      (3) (New SG No. 48/2006) Fixed term employment contract pursuant to paragraph (1), sub-paragraph 1 shall be concluded for execution of temporary, seasonal or short-term works and activities, as well as with newly hired employees in enterprises that have been declared bankrupt or in liquidation.
      (4) (New SG No. 48/2006) As an exception, a fixed term employment contract pursuant to paragraph (1), subparagraph 1 may be concluded for a period of not less than one year and for works and activities that are not of temporary, seasonal or short-term nature. Such an employment contract may also be concluded for a shorter period upon request in writing by the employee. In such cases the fixed term employment contract under paragraph (1), sub-paragraph 1 may be repeatedly concluded with the same employee for the same type of work only once for a period of at least one year.
      (5) (New SG No. 48/2006) An employment contract under paragraph (1), sub-paragraph 1, concluded in violation of paragraphs (3) and (4), shall be deemed concluded for an indefinite period of time.
      (6) (SG No. 7/2012) Fixed term contract for a long-term mission may be concluded for a position designated for posting in the foreign representation of the Republic of Bulgaria abroad under the Foreign Service.
      (7) (SG No. 48/2006, SG No. 7/2012) An employer shall provide timely written information to employees on fixed term contracts about job locations and positions that can be filled by contract for an indefinite time, in order to provide them with the opportunity for permanent employment. Such information shall be provided to the representatives of trade unions and representatives of employees under Art. 7, para. 2.
      (8) (SG No. 48/2006, Sg No. 7/2012) If possible, the employer shall take measures to facilitate the access of employees on temporary contracts to vocational training to improve their skills and opportunities for career and transferring to another job.
  • Valid reasons for FTC use: objective and material reasons
    Remarks:
    • According to the LC fixed term contract shall be concluded for a definite period which shall not be longer than 3 years, insofar as a law or an act of the Council of Ministers do not provide otherwise - for execution of temporary, seasonal or short-term works and activities, as well as with newly hired employees in enterprises that have been declared bankrupt or in liquidation (Art 68.1.1 and Art. 68.3 LC).
      Also, fixed term contract can be concluded until completion of some specified work (art.68.1.2), for substitution for an employee who is absent from work (Art.68.1.3), for working at a job which is to be taken through a competitive examination, for the time until it is taken on the basis of the competitive examination (Art. 68.1.4).

      In 2012, the amendment SG No. 7/2012 allows fixed term contract to be concluded for a long-term mission designated for posting in the foreign representation of the Republic of Bulgaria abroad under the Foreign Service (Art. 68.6 LC).

  • Maximum number of successive FTCs: 1
    Remarks:
    • General rule: no renewal.

      However art. 68 (4) LC provides for exceptions stating that a fixed term employment contract pursuant to paragraph (1), subparagraph 1 may be concluded for a period of not less than one year and for works and activities that are not of temporary, seasonal or short-term nature. According to the same article, such an employment contract may also be concluded for a shorter period upon request in writing by the employee. In such cases the fixed term employment contract under paragraph (1), sub-paragraph 1 may be repeatedly concluded with the same employee for the same type of work only once for a period of at least one year.
  • Maximum cumulative duration of successive FTCs: 36 month(s)
    Remarks:
    • Art. 68.1.1 LC provides for 36 months as a maximum duration of successive fixed term contracts.
  • % of workforce under FTC: 3.5 %
    Remarks:
    • Source: Eurostat, for the year 2016:
      The figure refers to the percentage of employee with a contract of limited duration (= temporary job) of total number of employee aged 15-74 years.
      Eurostat data are based on the following definition:
      "A job may be considered temporary if employer and employee agree that its end is determined by objective conditions such as a specific date, the completion of a task or the return of another employee who has been temporarily replaced (usually stated in a work contract of limited duration). Typical cases are: (a) persons with seasonal employment; (b) persons engaged by an agency or employment exchange and hired to a third party to perform a specific task (unless there is a written work contract of unlimited duration); (c) persons with specific training contracts."

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - 2019    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: Yes
Remarks:
  • The Labour Code does not specify whether the employer shall provide reasons for dismissal.
    However, see:
    - Art. 328 LC: exhaustive list of 12 situations when dismissal with notice is authorized;
    - Art. 330 LC: exhaustive list of 11 situations when dismissal without notice is authorized.
    - Art. 190 LC lists authorized grounds for disciplinary dismissal.


Valid grounds (justified dismissal): worker's conduct; worker's capacity; economic reasons
Remarks:
  • Art. 328 LC lists 12 situations when dismissal with notice is authorized.
    Art. 330 LC lists 11 situations when dismissal without notice is authorized. Authorized grounds disciplinary dismissal are listed in art. 190 LC.


Prohibited grounds: marital status; family responsibilities; race; colour; sex; sexual orientation; religion; political opinion; social origin; nationality/national origin; age; trade union membership and activities; disabilities; ethnic origin
Remarks:
  • See Art. 8 (3) LC
    See also art. 4 (1) together with art. 21 (on termination of employment) of the Protection from Discrimination Act, 2003.
    In addition, "differences in the contract term and duration of working time" are listed as prohibited grounds of discrimination.


Workers enjoying special protection: workers' representatives; pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave; workers with family responsibilities; confirmed injured workers
Remarks:
  • Art. 333 (1), (3), (5), (6) LC
    * Art. 333 (1) LC lists the categories of workers for which dismissal can only take place after consent of the labour inspectorate has been obtained: mothers of children under 3 years or spouses of persons who have entered their regular military service, employees reassigned due to health reasons, employees suffering from certain diseases, employees on permitted leave.

    * Protection for trade union representatives is provided in art. 333 (1) LC. Prior consent of the trade union is required when dismissal is based on certain grounds (partial closing down of the entreprise or staff cuts, reduction of the volume of work, lack of qualities for efficient work performance, lack of qualifications following changes in the requirement, disciplinary dismissals).

    *Pregnant women can only be discharged under certain grounds such as "force majeure", closing down of the enterprise, refusal to follow the enterprise in the case of relocation. Prior consent of the labour inspectorate is required for disciplinary dismissal (art. 333 (5) LC).
    A women on maternity leave can only be dismissed when the enterprise is closing down (art. 333 (6) LC).


Procedural requirements for individual dismissals - 2019    

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Notification to the worker to be dismissed: written

Remarks:
  • Art. 328 (1) LC

Notice period:
Remarks:
  • Art. 328 (1) together with art. 326 (2) LC
    * The notice period for termination of a contract of unlimited duration must be 30 days, unless a longer period has been agreed by the parties, but not longer than 3 months.
    *Note: the LC also provides that notice period for FTC shall amount to 3 months, but not more than the remaining period of the contract.
    • tenure ≥ 6 months
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 9 months
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 2 years
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 4 years
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 5 years
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 10 years
      • 30 day(s).
    • tenure ≥ 20 years
      • 30 day(s).

    Pay in lieu of notice: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Art. 220 LC

    Notification to the public administration: No

    Notification to workers' representatives: No

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Remarks:
    • However pursuant to art. 333 (1) LC, prior consent of the labour inspectorate is required :
      1) when the dismissal is based on certain grounds: partial closing down of the enterprise or staff cuts, lack of the qualities required for the performance of the work, lack of qualification following changes in the requirements for the job, disciplinary dismissals
      and
      2) for workers benefiting from special protection: mothers of children under 3 years, women whose husband are serving their compulsory military service, employees with reduced capacity for work who have been reassigned and disabled persons, employees suffering from certain diseases.

      For pregnant women, prior consent of the labour inspectorate is required in case of disciplinary dismissal (art. 333 (5) LC).

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Procedural requirements for collective dismissals for economic reasons (redundancy, retrenchment) - 2019    

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    Definition of collective dismissal (number of employees concerned):
    At least:
    1) 10 employees out of a total of 20 to 99 employees, over a period of 30 days
    2) 10% of employees out of a total of 100 to 299 employees, over a period of 30 days;
    3) 30 employees out of at least 300 employees, over a period of 30 days;


    Remarks:
    • Supplementary provisions, § 1 (9) LC (Definitions)
      [Note that prior to the 2006 amendments, this definition also included the dismissal for economic reasons of "at least 20 workers regardless of the total number of workers and employees over a period of 90 days. This was deleted from the LC in 2006]

    Prior consultations with trade unions (workers' representatives): Yes

    Remarks:
    • Art. 130a LC

    Notification to the public administration: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Art. 24 of the Employment Promotion Act

    Notification to workers' representatives: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Art. 130a LC

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Remarks:
    • No approval by the admnistration required as such for collective dismissals.

      However, pursuant to Art. 25 of the Employment Promotion Act, in the course of the negotiation process, a team of representatives of the workers, the employer and the administration shall draft measures aimed at avoiding or mitigating the effects of the propose redundancy (employment placement, vocational training, alternative employment programmes). The draft shall then be submitted for approval to the Regional Employment Commission.

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Remarks:
    • Except when approval is foreseen under a collective agreement in dismissals due to staff cut or reduction of the volume of work: art. 333 (3) LC.

    Priority rules for collective dismissals (social considerations, age, job tenure): No

    Remarks:
    • No selection criteria listed.
      Art. 130a LC only refers to criteria as one of the elements to be communicated to the workers' representatives for consultation.

      Note: Art. 329 LC provides that in case of partial closing down of an enterprise, in case of staff cuts or reduction of the volume of work, the employer shall be entitled to selection and in the interest of production, business may dismiss employees whose positions have not been made redundant, in order to retain employees of higher qualifications and better performance.

    Employer's obligation to consider alternatives to dismissal (transfers, retraining...): Yes

    Remarks:
    • Art. 25 of the Employment Promotion Act.
      This article refers to measures aiming at "employment placement intermediation, training for attainment of vocational qualification, alternative employment programmes" that have to be drafted by a team of representatives of the workers, the employer and the administration and to be submitted for approval to the Regional Employment Commission.

    Priority rules for re-employment: No

    Severance pay and redundancy payment - 2019    

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    Severance pay:
    Remarks:
    • No statutory severance pay except:
      - upon termination of employment due to an illness for employee of at least 5 years of service: 2 months' gross remuneration (art. 222 (2) LC);
      - upon termination after the employee has acquired the right to a pension : 2 months' pay or 6 months' pay for a job tenure of 10 years (art. 222 (3) LC).
      Redundancy payment:
      Remarks:
      • Not more than 1 month's salary following any individual or collective dismissal on economic grounds. [Art. 222 (1) LC]
      • tenure ≥ 6 months: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 9 months: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 1 year: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 2 years: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 4 years: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 5 years: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 10 years: 1 month(s)
      • tenure ≥ 20 years: 1 month(s)

      Notes / Remarks
      1) Dismissal not based on economic reasons: no statutory severance pay except:
      - upon termination of employment due to an illness for employee of at least 5 years of service: 2 months' gross remuneration (art. 222 (2) LC);
      - upon termination after the employee has acquired the right to a pension : 2 months' pay or 6 months' pay for a job tenure of 10 years (art. 222 (3) LC).

      2) Economic dismissal: redundancy payment.

      Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - 2019    

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      Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: No

      Remarks:
      • Art. 225 (1) LC

      Compensation for unfair dismissal - Legal limits (ceiling in months or calculation method):
      Compensation for unlawful dismissal shall amount to the employer's gross remuneration for the period of unemployment caused by the dismissal but not for more than 6 months.

      Remarks:
      • Art. 225 (1) LC

      Reinstatement available: Yes

      Remarks:
      • Art. 344 (1) LC. Right of the employee to demand reinstatement.

      Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No

      Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): ordinary courts

      Remarks:
      • Art. 344 (4) LC refers to district and regional courts.

      Existing arbitration: No

      Length of procedure: 3 month(s) (statutory)

      Remarks:
      • 3 months is the statutory timeframe for the first instance decision.

        Art. 344 (4) provides for a mandatory timeframe for consideration of labour disputes by the courts:
        * within 3 months following the receipt of the claim for the district court and;
        * within 1 month following the receipt of appeal by the regional court.

        Note: The action relating to termination of employment should be brought within 2 months as from the date of termination (art. 358 (1) LC).

      Source of additional information - 2019    

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