Employment relations

In Bulgaria, the employment relations between the worker (employee) and the employer, and other relations directly linked to them are governed by the Labour Code (LC). The Code applies to employment relations of Bulgarian citizens, citizens of Member States of the European Union, countries that are parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation with employers in Bulgaria, and Bulgarian employers abroad, unless otherwise stated in a law or an international agreement which is in force in the Republic of Bulgaria.

The LC does not apply to employment relations with an international element if the parties have chosen their employment relations to be governed by the legislation of another country.

Employment rights acquired abroad are recognized in the Republic of Bulgaria under a law, an act of the Council of Ministers or an international treaty to which the Republic of Bulgaria is a party.

The employment contract shall be concluded in writing between the worker (employee) and the employer before entering work. The employment contract may be concluded for an indefinite period or as a fixed-term employment contract.

The employment contract contains details for the parties and determines:

  • the place of work;
  • the name of the position and nature of work;
  • the date of its conclusion and the start of its implementation;
  • the duration of the employment contract;
  • the duration of the main and extended annual paid leave and additional paid annual leaves;
  • the same period of notice for both parties in case of termination of the employment contract;
  • basic and additional remuneration of a permanent nature and frequency of payment;
  • the length of the working day or week.

Other conditions relating to the provision of labour contract may be negotiated by the employment contract, which are not regulated by the mandatory provisions of law, and conditions that are more favorable to the employee or employer than those established by the collective agreement.

Within three days of the conclusion or modification of the employment contract, and within seven days of its termination, the employer or their authorized representative shall be obliged to notify the relevant territorial directorate of the National Revenue Agency.

The data contained in the notification, and the procedures for its transmission, shall be determined by an ordinance of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, in coordination with the Executive Director of the National Revenue Agency and the Chairman of the National Statistical Institute.

The employment contract may be concluded for an indefinite period, as a fixed-term contract or for a trial period.

A fixed-term contract is concluded:

  • for a fixed term that can be no longer than 3 years;
  • to complete a job;
  • to replace an employee or worker who is absent from work, and in some other cases specified in the Labour Code.

The fixed-term employment contract becomes a contract for an indefinite period of time if the employee continues to work after the expiry of the agreed period for 5 working days or more without a written objection by the employer's side and the position is vacant.

  • The working week is five days of normal weekly working time up to 40 hours.
  • The standard working day is of 8 hours.
  • The minimum paid leave is 20 days per year.
  • The minimum retirement age is 63 years and 10 months (men), and 60 years and 10 months (women).
  • The minimum remuneration is BGN 420 per month.

Employee and workers may elect representatives to represent their common interests on issues of labour and social security relations before their employers or government agencies at a General Assembly. Representatives shall be elected by a majority of over two thirds of the members of the General Assembly.

The employer is obliged to ensure healthy and safe conditions of work so that risks to life and health of the employee are removed, restricted or reduced.

All employees and workers are subject to mandatory preliminary and periodic medical examinations. The frequency of these examinations is determined by a regulation of the Minister of Health according to the nature of the work, working conditions and age of employees.

Special protection of minors

The minimum age for admission to employment is 16 years (and under special conditions covered by the law - under 16 years). The employment of minors for works that are heavy, hazardous or harmful to their health and their physical, mental and moral development is prohibited. The employment of minors is possible only after a thorough preliminary medical examination and a medical report stating their fitness for the job, and with the permission of the labour inspectorate in each case.

Conditions and procedures for authorization shall be regulated by a regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy and the Minister of Health.

The working time of employees under 18 is 35 hours per week and 7 hours per day for five days a week. They are entitled to a paid annual leave of not less than 26 working days, including the calendar year in which they turn 18.

Medical examinations

All employees and workers are subject to mandatory preliminary medical examinations:

  • before starting work (in case of first appointment or continuous period of unemployment (more than 3 months)).
  • when moving to a workplace that is not free of hazards to life and health.

All employees are also subject to periodic medical examinations, the provision of which is paid by the employer. The nature and frequency is dependent on the working conditions and hazards and risks identified in the risk assessment in the enterprise.

The overall monitoring of the compliance with the labour legislation in Bulgaria in all sectors and activities is done by the General Labour Inspectorate Executive Agency at the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

Social security

The main legislation in the public social security is the Social Security Code.

The public social security provides benefits, subsidies and pensions in case of: temporary disability, temporarily reduced disability, disability, maternity, unemployment, old age, and death.

Insurers, insurance funds, self-insured persons and employers periodically submit to the National Revenue Agency the following data: social security income, contributions for public social insurance, social security payments, retirement service and taxable income under the Personal Income Tax Law - separately for each person subject of insurance.

Pensions and benefits are paid by the National Insurance Institute (NII).

The National Insurance Institute is the competent Bulgarian authority in applying the provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004, Regulation (EC) No. 987/2009, Regulation (ECC) No. 1408/71, Regulation (EEC) No. 574/72 and the international treaties on social security and social safety regarding:

  • Damages for sickness, maternity and death;
  • Damages for unemployment;
  • Old-age, disability and survivors pensions.

Citizens living in other countries who wish to exercise rights under social security or those who want to receive Bulgarian pensions abroad are served by the Head Office of the NII - European Integration and International Treaties Directorate.

Applications for certification of insurance periods in another Member State of the EU/EEA by forms E 104 and E 301 may be found on the website of the NII.

Social security contributions

The social security contributions are defined in the Social Security Code and paid into the funds of the public social security. Income on which contributions for public social insurance are due includes all wages, including accrued and unpaid, and other employment income. The Law on the Budget of the Public Social Security determines:

  • the maximum monthly insurance income during the calendar year;
  • the minimum monthly insurance income during the calendar year for self-employed persons;
  • the main economic activities and qualification groups of professions for which a minimum monthly insurance income for the calendar year by activities and professional groups is introduced, including the minimum insurance income for them.

Insurance data for the insured shall be submitted by the employer /insurer/ and the self-employed person. Social security contributions for the employees and workers are shared between the insurers and the insured, as defined in the Social Security Code. The contributions to the Work Accident and Occupational Disease Fund are paid by the employer /insurer/.

Detailed information can be found HERE.

Health insurance

Health Insurance in the Republic of Bulgaria and the related social relations are regulated by the Law on Health Insurance. Health insurance is compulsory and voluntary.

Compulsory health insurance

The compulsory health insurance is an activity on the management and spending of compulsory health insurance contributions for the payment of health activities, which is carried out by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and its territorial divisions - Regional Health Insurance Funds (RHIF). The compulsory health insurance provides a basic package of health services guaranteed by the NHIF's budget.

Fund raising from the mandatory health insurance contributions, which are determined by law, shall be performed by the National Revenue Agency.

Compulsorily insured at the National Health Insurance Fund are:

1. all Bulgarian citizens who are not citizens of another country;

2. Bulgarian citizens who are also citizens of another country but reside permanently in the Republic of Bulgaria;

3. foreign citizens or stateless persons who have been granted a long-term or permanent residence in the Republic of Bulgaria, unless otherwise provided in an international treaty to which the Republic of Bulgaria is a party;

4. persons with a refugee status, humanitarian status or with granted asylum;

5. foreign students and PhD students enrolled in universities and research institutions in the country under Council of Ministers Decree No. 103 of 1993 on the implementation of educational activity among Bulgarians abroad and Council of Ministers Decree No. 228 of 1997 admission of citizens of the Republic of Macedonia for students at public higher educational institutions of the Republic of Bulgaria.

6. persons outside of the above, subject to the legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria under the rules on coordination of social security systems.

Compulsorily insured persons are entitled:

1. to receive medical care under the basic package of health services guaranteed by the NHIF's budget;

2. to choose a doctor from a hospital for primary care, having a contract with the RHIF;

3. to emergency assistance wherever needed;

4. to receive information from the RHIF on contracts entered into by it with medical care providers;

5. to participate in the management of the NHIF through their representatives;

6. to complain to the Director of the RHIF for violations of the law and contracts;

7. to obtain a document required for the exercise of their health insurance rights in accordance with the rules for the coordination of social security systems.

Compulsorily insured persons are entitled to receive partial or full reimbursement of costs incurred for medical care abroad only if they have received prior permission from the NHIF. Authorization is given only for the types of medical care, which is not carried out in the country according to Art. 78 and 79 of the Health Insurance Law.

Persons who are subject to health care in another Member State under the rules for the coordination of social security systems are not compulsorily insured at the NHIF.

Foreigners residing in the Republic of Bulgaria for a long or short period of time, as well as persons with dual Bulgarian and foreign nationality who are not insured under this Law, shall pay the cost of the medical care, unless an international treaty to which the Republic of Bulgaria is a party is in effect.

The amount of health insurance contribution is determined each year by the Law on the Budget of the National Health Insurance Fund. In 2013, the health insurance contribution is 8%, as the distribution between the insurer and the insured is 60:40 as follows:

  • 3.2% on behalf of the insured;
  • 4.8% on behalf of the insurer.

The health insurance contribution of self-employed persons is entirely at their own expense and also amounts to 8% for 2013.

EU Health Insurance Card

The EU Health Insurance Card is a document by which insured persons may use emergency and urgent health (medical and dental) assistance during their stay in another EU Member State, which is provided in accordance with the rules of the law of the country of residence, and the costs incurred are reimbursed in accordance with the applicable tariffs in that country. 

From January 1st, 2006, the EU Health Insurance Card is issued and recognized by each Member State of the European Union.

The term of validity of the EU Health Insurance Card is one year.

In case the applicant is a minor, the validity of the EU Health Insurance Card is until they come of age, but not less than one year and not more than 5 years.

In case the applicant is a person who receives a pension for contribution period and age, the period of validity of the EU Health Insurance Card is 10 years, and if the person is receiving a disability pension – for the duration of the allocated pension, but not more than 10 years.

Health Insurance Card is recommended for insured persons under this Law during their temporary residence in a Member State of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland.

Detailed information can be found HERE.

Optional health insurance

Optional health insurance is based on a medical insurance contract within the meaning of Art. 222a of the Insurance Code.

Medical insurance contracts concluded in connection with travelling outside the Republic of Bulgaria are not optional health insurance.

The operation of health care providers under contracts with physical and legal persons for medical services of a certain type, volume and prices is not considered optional health insurance, too.