09 Aug Amendments to the Bulgarian Labor Code – latest update
author: Doychin Ivanov, attorney-at-law
On 05.08.2022 amendments to the Bulgarian Labor Code were promulgated in the State Gazette no. 62, which concern important elements of employment relations. The changes are effective retroactively, starting from 01.08.2022.
1. Regarding changes to the employment relationship
In Art. 66, para. 5 of the Labor Code, a change was introduced requiring the Employer to provide the Employee with the necessary written information regarding the changes in the employment relationship at the latest before the relevant changes enter into force.
In practice, this rule is important mainly for cases of unilateral amendment of the employment contract by the Employer, since the basic principle for amending the employment relationship in accordance with Art. 119, para. 1 of the CT states that changes are made by mutual agreement of the parties and in writing.
The possibilities of the Employer to unilaterally amend the employment relationship, including without the consent of the Employee, are provided for in Art. 120, para. 1 of the Labour Code and they concern cases of production necessity and seizure of work. Under these conditions, the Employer is entitled to unilaterally change the place or nature of the Employee’s work for a period of up to 45 days in a calendar year.
In addition, the Employer may make unilateral changes to the employment relationship without the consent of the Employee in cases where the latter are beneficial to the Employee, such as a unilateral increase in remuneration or an increase in the amount of regular paid annual leave, etc.
In these cases of unilateral changes to the employment relationship, under the latest amendment of Art. 66, para. 5 of the Labor Code the Employer is obliged to provide written information to the employees at the latest before the changes take effect. In other cases of changes to the employment relationship by mutual consent of the parties, such information is not necessary, because the form is generally written and obviously the consent of the Employee is also provided for its compliance.
2. Regarding the trial period
The amended Art. 70, para. 1 of the Labour Code introduces an additional hypothesis of the possibility of agreeing a trial period. The new rule takes into account the cases where the work is set for a period of up to one year, and in these cases the trial period cannot be longer than 1 month.
Before the amendments, the trial period in all cases was foreseen to last up to 6 months and depended entirely on the will of the parties. This meant that even for the conclusion of employment contracts for a certain period, for example up to 4, 5 or 9 months, until now it was possible to negotiate a trial period of a maximum of 6 months, i.e. in the case of work for a fixed period of up to 6 months, for example, for the entire period of work it was possible for the Employee to be in a trial period.
3. Regarding the conditions for concluding an additional employment contract
Important amendments were introduced in Art. 111 of the Labour Code.
Until now, the current regulations provided for the right of the Employee to enter into additional employment contracts outside of his principal employment contract, including with other employers, only if not otherwise agreed in his principal employment contract. This meant that under an express prohibition in the principal employment contract, which was often the case in practice, the Employee had no right to enter into any additional employment contracts without the prior consent of his main Employer.
Now, the amended Art. 111 of the Labour Code provides for the Employee’s freedom to conclude additional employment contracts, including with other employers, unless a prohibition is stipulated in his main employment contract due to the protection of trade secrets and/or the prevention of conflicts of interest. In other words, following the amended Art. 111 of the Labour Code the Employer under the main employment contract may restrict its employees from entering into additional employment contracts only for reasons of trade secret protection and/or prevention of conflict of interest.
4. Regarding the Employee’s rights to additional information from the Employer
The amended Art. 119 of the Labour Code provides additional opportunities for the Employee to propose to the Employer an amendment of his employment contract for a fixed term or for part-time employment into an employment contract for an indefinite term and for full-time employment. In these cases, and if the Employer disagrees with the amendment, the latter is obliged to provide the Employee with a written justification of his reasons for not agreeing within a period of up to one month.
The Employer is released from the above obligation if he has received similar proposals from the Employee more than twice in a period of one year.
The amended Art. 127 of the Labour Code introduces additional obligations for the Employer to provide information to the Employee regarding:
- instructions on the order and manner of performance of labor duties and exercise of labor rights, including provision of information on the rules of the Internal labor regulation, the Internal salary rules and the Rules for health and safety at work;
- information on the terms and conditions for termination of the employment contract according to the provisions of the Labor Code;
- information on trainings provided by the Employer, related to maintaining and increasing professional qualifications and improving professional skills.
From a practical point of view, the above-mentioned provisions mean obligations for the Employer to provide additional information to his employees regarding their current employment relationships and, in the future, when concluding new employment contracts, to provide the above-mentioned additional information. The new obligation to provide information on the terms and conditions for terminating the employment contract according to the provisions of the Labor Code deserves special attention.
5. Leave to raise a child up to 8 years of age from the father (adoptive parent)
The new Art. 164c of the Labour Code provides for the right of fathers (adoptive parents) to paid leave for raising a child up to the age of 8 in the amount of two months.
6. Regarding the introduction of additional opportunities for employees to reconcile work and family obligations
The amended Art. 167b of the Labour Code provides additional opportunities for the employees who are parents (adoptive parents) of children up to 8 years of age or the employees who take care of a parent, child, spouse, brother, sister and parent of the other spouse or other direct relatives due to serious medical reasons.
In these cases, the employees may propose to the Employer a temporary change in the duration and distribution of working hours, switching to remote work and other changes to the employment relationship that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family obligations.
The Employer is not obliged to agree to the proposals, but if the latter refuses them, he is obliged to provide a substantiated written response to the employee within 14 days of receiving the proposal to amend the employment relationship.
The team of Ivanov and Yonkova Law Firm remains at disposal for provision of legal opinion and answers to any supplementary questions regarding the present or any other topic, you may have.
The present article does not represent legal opinion or advice on specific case or situation.
Author: Doychin Ivanov, attorney-at-law Managing Partner Ivanov and Yonkova Law Firm