Table of Contents

Bulgaria

Table of Contents

Currency

Bulgarian Lev (BGN)

Payroll Frequency

Monthly

Employer Taxes

18.92% - 19.62%

About Bulgaria

Located in the southeastern part of Europe, Bulgaria is bordered by Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Greece, with the Black Sea on its eastern border. The capital and largest city is Sofia, with other major cities of Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. Its population is a primarily Slavonic-speaking, Orthodox Christian country, and also the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Although facing a high corruption problem, Bulgaria is part of the European Union and NATO. The country is also facing a precipitous drop in its fertility rate, with a current population of about 7 million, down from 9 million people in 1988.

Bulgaria has one of Europe’s richest biodiversities in terms of animal, bird and plant species, with several kinds of wild boar, jackals, partridges and fungal species. Bulgarian culture and cuisine have been influenced, over the centuries, by Turkish and Greek cultures, with yogurt, lukanka, banitsa, shopska salad, lyutenitsa and kozunak counted among the best-known local foods.

Employment Relationship

• Permanent Employment

Employment contracts concluded for an indefinite period are considered permanent employment. Such agreements cannot be transformed into a contract for a definite period, except at the employee's explicit wish, as expressed in writing. All contracts are considered contracts of indefinite duration unless expressly agreed otherwise.  Either party can terminate an indefinite-term contract by providing a notice period or compensation in lieu of notice. 

• Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

The Labour Code limits the duration of fixed-term contracts to 3 years. Fixed-term contracts can also be concluded for a specific duration, to complete specified work, replace an employee who is absent from work, or fill a vacancy until the competition to fill it is complete. Fixed-term contracts can be concluded to complete temporary, seasonal, or short-term work and activities. Fixed-term contracts can also be concluded for permanent tasks with a duration of 1 year and can be renewed only once for at least 1 year. Employees hired under a fixed-term contract may request conversion to an indefinite contract at any time after the expiration of the probationary period. The employer must respond to the request in writing within 1 month of receiving the request with the reasons for the acceptance or refusal. If an employee continues to work after the expiration of the agreed term for 5 or more working days without a written objection from the employer, the fixed-term contract is converted to an indefinite term contract.

• Temporary Employment Contratcs

Temporary employment contracts can be concluded for the performance of temporary or seasonal work. Employers can also hire temporary employees through temporary hiring agencies to complete a particular task or replace absent employees. The total number of employees hired through temporary agencies cannot exceed 30% of the entire workforce. Employers must conclude a written agreement with the temporary employment agency to engage its services. The temporary employment agency is responsible for paying salaries. The user employer is responsible for providing a safe work environment and determining additional overtime or night work payments.

Probationary Period

According to the Labour Code of Bulgaria, employment contracts can include a probationary period of up to 6 months. If the duration of the employment contract is less than 1 year, the probationary period cannot exceed 1 month. An employee can undergo probation only once with the same employer. During the trial period, the parties shall have all rights and duties they would have had under a final employment contract.

Working Hours

The standard workweek is 40 hours or 8 hours per day. For employees working in risky work environments or employees under 18 years of age, the daily working hours are reduced by 1 hour. An employer can extend working hours on some working days for business reasons by giving a written order. Employees can then be compensated through a respective reduction of the workday duration on other days. The duration of extended working hours cannot exceed 10 hours a day. 

Holidays / PTO

• Statutory Holidays

New Year's Day – January 1  Day of Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Yoke – March 3  Labor Day – May 1  St. George's Day – May 6 Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Literature – May 24 Unification Day – September 6 Independence Day of Bulgaria – September 22 National Awakening Day – November 1  Christmas Eve – December 24 Christmas – December 25 Nativity of Christ – December 26 Good Friday – Date subject to change  Great Saturday – Date subject to change  Easter Sunday and Monday – Date subject to change

• Paid Annual Leave

Employees become entitled to a paid annual leave of at least 20 days once they complete 8 months of service. Annual leave is extended by at least 5 days for employees working in harmful or hazardous conditions and for those who work an unstructured workday. Employees under 18 years of age are entitled to 26 days of paid annual leave. Employees must pay employees a remuneration equal to the average daily gross remuneration during annual leave. It is prohibited to pay cash in lieu of annual leave, except in cases of termination. The paid annual leave can be used in parts or at once. Employees must obtain written permission from their employers. Annual leave must be used until the end of the relevant calendar year, but it can be postponed by a year if work circumstances require it.

• Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to sick leave authorized by health authorities in case of temporary disability resulting from a general disease, an occupational disease, occupational injury, etc. Employers must pay 70% of the daily remuneration for the first 2 days. After that, employees who have worked for at least 6 months are eligible to cash benefits equal to 80% of their remuneration paid by the National Social Insurance Institute. The benefit for temporary disability due to an occupational accident or disease is 90% of the daily remuneration. This benefit is paid for a maximum of 18 months.

• Maternity Leave

The Labour Code of Bulgaria provides a maternity leave of 410 days for each child, 45 days of which are to be taken before delivery. The employee can use the remaining 410 days based on a written request submitted to the employer. If a child is stillborn or dies while in full-time infant state support or adoption, the mother has the right to leave for 42 days from birth. With the mother's consent, after the child has reached the age of six months, the father may use the remaining leave until 410 days instead of her. 

• Paternity Leave

When they are married to the mother or living in the same household, fathers are entitled to a 15-day childbirth leave starting from the child's delivery date. Employees must inform their employers in writing when availing themselves of this leave. With the mother's consent, after the child attains 6 months of age, the father may use the remaining days of the 410-day maternity leave instead of the mother. When the father is unknown, the leave can be used by one of the mother's parents.  From March 2023, fathers can also avail a 2 month paid leave until the child turns 8, if they have not utilized the paternity leave of 15 days. This leave can be used all at once or in parts. This leave is paid at the rate of minimum wage by the National Social Security Institute. They must inform their employers at least 10 days in advance. 

Termination of Employment

• Notice Period

The minimum notice period for dismissal is 30 days in the case of indefinite term employment contracts (the notice period cannot exceed three months). For fixed-term contracts, the notice period is 3 months but not more than the remainder of the contract term. The notice period must be confirmed in writing. Employment contracts can be terminated without notice in case of misconduct, falsification of identity/qualification, medical reasons, etc. If a contract is terminated before the expiry of the notice period or without a notice period, the initiating party will be responsible for paying the other party for the remaining notice period.

• Severance Benefits

Severance benefits are paid according to the reason for termination: Dismissal due to the company's closure, redundancy, reduced workload, or work stoppage for more than 15 days – compensation for the period the employee was out of work, but not more than 1 month Dismissal due to illness – compensation for 2 months, provided the employee has worked for at least 5 years Termination due to retirement – 2 months' compensation, or 6 months' compensation if the employee has worked for 10 years with the same employer Employees dismissed due to disciplinary issues are not entitled to severance pay.