Labour law in Bulgaria: what you need to know

Labour law in Bulgaria: what you need to know

Historical background

Like in many European countries, the Bulgarian labour law emerged as a result of workers’ movements which fought for fair and regulated working conditions. Due to the complex historical circumstances of the time, Bulgaria adopted an employment law at the beginning of the 20th century. The country has been a member of the International Labour Organization since 1920.

After Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, the country’s labour legislation had to also be adapted to the EU norms and requirements.
Thanks to that, foreign citizens from other EU countries have the right to legally work in Bulgaria without too much hassle, and vice versa - Bulgarian citizens can easily be employed in another country, a member of the EU.

Do you need legal advice and assistance? Contact our experienced lawyers.

 

Bulgarian labour law basics

Essentially, labour law arranges and regulates the relationship between the employer and the employee. The responsible institution for it is the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

Bulgarian labour legislation includes quite a few statutes but the ones that stand out are the Labour Code, the Code on social security, the Non-discrimination Protection Act, the Law on health and safety at work and the Law on Collective labour disputes (when it comes to collective agreements, collective bargaining, and trade unions).

 

The Bulgarian Labour Code

The Labour code regulates the main aspects of each employer-employee relationship and thus is the most commonly used and applied statute. Here are the most important points covered by the Bulgarian Labour code:

1. The two main types of contracts: employment and civil contracts.

2. The process of hiring an employee and signing an individual employment contract. The contract must include:

  • the work place (even when the employee will be working remotely, an address must be included in the document);
  • the title of the position and the nature of the work to be done;
  • date of the contract and a starting date for the employee;
  • the duration of the employment contract;
  • the length of basic and extended paid annual leave and additional paid leave;
  • an equal notice period for both parties for termination of the employment contract;
  • the basic and additional remuneration, as well as when it is to be paid;
  • the length of the working day or week and the working hours.

3. Working time and paid annual leave:

  • The standard working week has 5 working days, of up to 8 working hours per day, adding up to 40 hours per week. Work between 22 h and 6 h is considered night work and is more expensive.
  • Overtime work: if the employee has working hours exceeding the ones specified in the employment contract, the remuneration for the overtime hours should be higher than the regular wage per hour. The percentage varies depending if the employee worked on a regular working day or a holiday/public holiday.
  • The minimum paid annual leave is 20 days, no matter if the employee works part time or full time.

4. Termination of employment:

  • Every employee has the right to terminate the employment contract with a written notice. The standard notice period is 1 month but it can be determined by the employer. The easiest way to cancel an employment contract is with mutual agreement.
  • The employer has the right to cancel the contract and dismiss the employee if:
    • the position is no longer needed or is a financial burden: the employer is then obliged to financially compensate the terminated worker.
    • the employee is not performing well and is not fulfilling the tasks specified in the employment contract.
    • the employee is late, does not show up for work, or does not follow the internal disciplinary rules of the enterprise - considered a disciplinary dismissal.

5. Protection against unlawful dismissal and in cases of work-related incidents and injuries

6. Remuneration:

  • The minimum wage is determined by the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria and is currently, as of February 2024, fixed to 977 BGN (499 EUR). Bulgaria is the EU member state with the lowest minimum wage.
  • The agreed upon salary can be increased by the employer without the agreement of the employee, however there must be mutual consent for a decrease.

7. Social security, maternity and sick leave:

  • When you have an employment contract in Bulgaria taxes, social security, health, and pension insurance are automatically deducted from your salary. If you are a foreigner who is not registered in the Bulgarian social security and health system, you only pay income taxes.
  • Female employees are entitled to 410 days of paid maternity leave, starting 45 days before the official due date.
  • Paid sick leave usually amounts to 70-80% of the regular salary, depending on the circumstances and the length of the absence.

Do you need legal advice and assistance? Contact our experienced lawyers.

 

Labour lawyers

If you have any questions about the specifics of Bulgarian labour law or need help with your employment relationship, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced team of lawyers will assist you with any types of issues and will provide you with professional legal advice. 

We will help you no matter if you are employed by a Bulgarian company or have a business in the country. If you are a third country national (such as the United Kingdom or the United States for example), you are also welcome with any queries about Bulgarian labour law. Our expert labour lawyers can consult you not only in English, but also in French, German, and Russian.


“Danailova, Todorov and Partners” Law Firm provides top-quality legal services on all aspects of trade law, contractual law, employment law, administrative law and tax law. We are a partner you can rely on.

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