Bulgaria (officially the Republic of Bulgaria) is a Balkan country in southeast Europe, with the Black Sea to its east. Foreign trade is extremely important to the country with energy, mining, machine building, metallurgy, tourism and agriculture being the most prominent industries. The combined value of imports and exports is 131.1% and the primary industrial exports are iron and steel, clothing, machinery and refined fuels. The government is open to foreign investment and the financial sector has coped well with external pressures.
Currency: Bulgarian Lev
Principal Language: Bulgarian
Government: Parliamentary System, Unitary State, Parliamentary Republic
Capital City: Sofia
Other Major Cities: Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Ruse
Employment agreements must be in writing and must be registered with the local office of the National Revenue Agency. The employment agreement may be executed for an indefinite period or for a fixed term. Generally, fixed term contracts are for periods of not less than 1 year and not longer than 3 years.
Employers can hire workers for a trial period of up to 6 months. The contract should expressly state in favor of which party the probation period has been agreed to, as this party is entitled to freely terminate the contract without notice.
Fixed-term contracts may be signed for seasonal or temporary activities or under certain conditions. Fixed-term employment agreements become agreements for an indefinite duration if after the expiration of the term, the position is still vacant, the employee continues to work for more than 5 days and the employer does not object to this in writing.
The Labor Code provides for other types of employment relationships such as the performance of work at home, remote jobs and work performed through companies providing temporary projects.
The Labor Code provides for a 5-day, 40-hour workweek. 8 hours is the standard length of the working day. In certain circumstances, the workweek may be extended, although any extension of working hours should first be discussed with employee representatives. In no case may the length of the workweek exceed 48 hours (56 hours in the event of summarized calculation of working time). Flexible and irregular work hours are allowed.
Employees are entitled to 12 hours of rest per day and 48 hours per week and to breaks during the workday. The lunch break cannot be less than 30 minutes.
Bulgaria observes the following holidays:
- Jan. 1: New Year
- March 3: Day of the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman Domination
- Good Friday
- Holy Saturday
- Easter Monday
- May 1: Labor and International Workers' Solidarity Day
- May 6: St. George's Day
- May 24: Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture
- Sept. 6: Bulgaria-Rumelia Union Day
- Sept. 22: Bulgaria Independence Day
- Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
- Dec. 25 and 26: Christmas.
Public holidays that take place on a weekend are not carried over to the following Monday. When a public holiday takes place on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, the Monday or Friday is sometimes taken as an official holiday to make a long weekend. Employees who are required to work on a public holiday are entitled to be paid double time.
The Council of Ministers has the right to announce other days as public holidays or holidays for the commemoration of certain professions. The employer is obliged to allow the use of the leave on these specific dates, if the employee so requests.
An employee who has worked for an employer at least 8 months is entitled to paid annual leave of a minimum 20 working days. Collective and individual employment agreements may provide for additional leave. Employees who work under specific conditions and certain categories of personnel listed in the Ordinance of the Councils of Ministers (mainly in education and science) also have the right to additional paid leave. Under the Labor Code, paid annual leave should generally be used during the year earned, although up to half can be postponed.
An employer can require an employee to take annual leave under certain circumstances such as a work stoppage of more than 5 days. If all paid annual leave has not been used within 2 years of the year earned regardless of the reason, the employee's right to the leave ends. Upon termination of employment, the employee is entitled to compensation for unused annual leave.
Employees who have contributed to the social security fund for at least 6 months are entitled to up to 18 months' paid sick leave. The employer must pay the employee 70% of average daily remuneration during the first 3 days of missed work, after which compensation is paid by the National Social Security Institute.
The sick pay benefit from the National Social Security Institute is 80% of average daily remuneration if the temporary disability is due to general sickness, 90% in the case of an employment injury or occupational disease.
Female employees are entitled to 410 days of paid maternity leave for each child, of which 45 days must be used before the expected delivery. When the child's birth occurs before the 45th day, the unused time is added to postnatal leave. During this period, the mother receives compensation from public social security funds in an amount equal to 90% of her average daily gross salary. Following maternity leave, a female employee is entitled to an additional 2 years' leave provided that the child is not in a child-care establishment.
Fathers who have completed 12 months of employment are entitled to 15 days' leave after the newborn child is discharged from the hospital. During this period, the father receives compensation from public social security funds in an amount equal to 90% of his average daily gross salary or the average daily income on which social security contributions have been calculated. After the child turns 6 months old, the father can use maternity leave until the expiration of the 410-day period. In addition, the mother's statutory leave entitlement covering the first 2 years of a child's life can be transferred to the father with the mother's consent.
In cases of adoption, the adoptive mother is entitled to maternity leave of 410 days minus the child's age on the day it was given up for adoption. An adoptive mother of a child aged 2 to 5 years is entitled to 365 days of leave, which can be used no later than the child's fifth birthday. After the child turns 6 months old, the adoptive father can use maternity leave until the expiration of the 410-day period. Adoptive fathers of children who are older than 2 years at the time of adoption are entitled to 365 days' leave.
Employees are entitled to 2 days of paid leave for their wedding, for bereavement, for blood donation, and to paid leave to perform certain civic duties (e.g., being a witness or a juror).
At the employee's request, an employer may grant unpaid leave whether or not the employee has exhausted paid annual leave or worked sufficiently long to qualify for paid leave. 30 days of annual unpaid leave are taken into consideration when calculating length of service.
With the prior consent of the employer, employees studying at high school or university are entitled to 25 days' paid leave per academic year, 30 days' during the graduation year to prepare for final exams and fulfill other graduation requirements.
Pension and Social Security
The retirement age for men is 64, with 38 years of contributions, and will gradually increase to 65 by 2029. The retirement age for women is 61 with 35 years of contributions and will gradually increase until it reaches 63 in 2020 and 65 in 2037. The required years of contributions will gradually rise to 40 years for men and 37 years for women.
The Bulgarian social security system consists of medical and social insurance. Social security providers are the National Social Security Institute and the National Health Insurance Fund. Social security contributions are collected by the National Revenue Agency.
All employees hired for more than 5 days or 40 hours per calendar month are subject to mandatory Public Social Security, which provides compensation, aid and pensions in cases of temporary disability, temporary reduced ability to work, permanent disability, maternity leave, unemployment, retirement and death.
Social security and health insurance contributions are paid by the employer and the employee. An employer's cost for each employee (social insurance, health insurance and pension contributions) averages 16 percent of salary.
All employers are required to contribute to the Labor Accident and Occupational Diseases fund administered by the National Social Security Institute. Employees and/or their beneficiaries receive compensation for job-related temporary or permanent disability, retraining as a result of disability, and death.
Employers are obligated to provide insurance against work-related accidents for employees assigned hazardous duties (those for which the level of reported work-related accidents is equal to or higher than the national average). Insurance covers death, permanent disability, and temporary disability caused by employment accidents.
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