Country Information

Bulgaria is in southeastern Europe. A Soviet satellite during the Cold War, Bulgaria began its transition from communism to a free market economy in 1990 and became a member of the European Union in 2007, although it is still working towards joining the eurozone. Bulgaria’s economy produces both resources for export and finished products. Oil and petroleum products are its leading exports, along with metals, particularly copper, both refined and unrefined. It also has deposits of coal, lead, zinc, and bauxite. The industrial sector produces electrical equipment and machinery, auto parts, and pharmaceuticals. Bulgaria’s strategic location allows it to trade with many countries, and it has developed its infrastructure accordingly. The Bulgarian port of Burgas, on the Black Sea, is the center of a free economic zone which allows rapid movement of goods to southeastern Europe, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia via water, air, rail and road.

Employment Contracts

All employment contracts must be in writing and the employer must send a notification to the National Revenue Agency within three days of the contract’s execution. The employer must provide the employee with a copy of the notification to the National Revenue Agency and a copy of the contract, signed by both parties, before the employee begins work. All employment contracts must identify the following:

  • Both parties
  • Place of work
  • Job title
  • Type of work
  • Date of contract execution
  • Starting date of performance
  • Duration of the contract (if applicable)
  • Information about leave
  • Notice period for termination
  • Compensation
  • Normal working hours

Employment contracts may be permanent or for a fixed term. Permanent employment contracts have a defined start date but no end date and may have a probation period of up to six months. Fixed-term employment contracts are for a defined period of time. The term must be stated in the written contract, and the term may not be longer than three years. Normally, the term cannot be less than one year, but it may be less than one year if the worker requests a shorter term in writing. In these cases, the contract may be renewed once, for not less than one year. It is also possible to have a fixed-term contract that is in effect until certain work is completed, until an absent employee returns to work, or other conditions. A fixed-term contract is automatically converted into a permanent contract if the employee continues working for a minimum of five working days after the conclusion of the fixed-term contract, the employer does not object in writing, and the position is vacant. If there is a probation period, it must be specified in the contract.

Working Hours

The standard workweek is eight hours per day, five days per week. Overtime is limited and only allowed in certain circumstances. The workweek may be extended to 48 hours, but no more than 60 workdays may be extended per year, and no more than 20 of these days may be consecutive. Before requiring additional hours, the employer must consult with the employees’ representatives, provide a written instruction, and notify the government labor inspectorate. Employees under 18 years old may not work more than 40 hours. Employees who work overtime are normally compensated with time off on other days as well as overtime pay. The rate of overtime pay is a sliding percentage on top of the basic rate. Employees who work at night (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) are entitled to additional pay at a rate agreed on by the employer and the employee. Overtime may not exceed six hours of day work and four hours of night work per workweek, 30 hours of day work and 20 hours of night work per month, or 150 hours per calendar year.

Sick Leave

Employees receive three days of sick leave paid at a percentage of their salary by the employer. After this, if the employee has a minimum of six months of work experience recognized by social security, she/he is paid a social security benefit for up to 18 months. Employees must submit a doctor’s note to receive sick pay.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Female employees receive 410 days of maternity leave with 45 days to be taken before the birth. The mother qualifies for social security payments at a portion of her salary during her leave if she has one year of work experience recognized for social security purposes and has paid the appropriate contributions. A female employee who adopts a child two years old or younger is entitled to the leave she would receive were she the biological mother, reduced by the age of the child on the day the child comes into her custody. If the child is over two years old, the adoptive mother may take 365 days of leave between the day she receives custody of the child and the child’s fifth birthday. Beginning six months after the child is put in their custody, the mother’s husband or other male adopter may take the remainder of this leave if the mother consents. The father or male partner of a child’s mother (whether biological or adoptive) receives 15 days of paternity leave and can use any of the mother’s unused maternity leave after the child is six months old. After the maternity leave has been used, the mother may take further parental leave until her child has reached the age of two. If the mother consents, the father (or her male partner) or one of their parents may take this leave in the mother’s place. The person taking this parental leave is generally entitled to a social security payment.

Compensation

Bulgaria has a minimum wage. Bonuses are common and often paid in December.

Vacation Leave

Employees in Bulgaria receive a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave once they have worked a minimum of eight months for an employer. Certain categories of employees are entitled to 26 days.

Public Holidays
  • New Year’s Day
  • Liberation Day
  • Orthodox Good Friday
  • Orthodox Easter Monday
  • Labor DaySt. George’s Day
  • Culture & Literacy Day
  • Unification Day
  • Independence Day
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • Second Day of Christmas
Health Insurance Benefits

Bulgaria has national health care. Private health care and insurance is available.

Employment / Termination / Severance

In most cases, an employer may terminate an employee on an indefinite contract with 30 days of written notice. The employer and employee may agree on a longer notice period, but no longer than three months. Employees on fixed term contracts may be terminated with three months of notice, or the remaining time before the expiration of the contract, whichever is sooner. Employers may only terminate due to acceptable reasons related with the business closing, or reducing its operations, or with the employee becoming unqualified or in some way unable to perform the tasks his/her job requires. An employer may terminate an employee without notice due to misconduct or because the employee has lost or been stripped of their license or other professional qualifications for his/her job. Dismissals and their causes must be thoroughly documented in order to establish that a legal cause exists, and an employee must receive a written explanation and a hearing where they have the chance to explain their conduct before dismissal for disciplinary reasons. Certain categories of employees may not be dismissed without permission from the government labor inspectorate. The employer must also notify the National Revenue Agency within seven days of the termination of any employment contract. Employees may terminate an indefinite contract with 30 days of written notice unless the employee and employer have agreed on a longer notice period, with the maximum notice period being three months. An employee may terminate a fixed term contract with three months of notice, or the remaining time before the expiration of the contract, whichever is sooner. Employees are not required to have cause to terminate an employment contract. The employee may withdraw the notice during the notice period if the employer consents.

Local Laws & Regulations

We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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