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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Bulgaria


In Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Labour Code is the primary resource governing employment termination.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

An employer may terminate an employment contract only on specific grounds outlined in the Labour Code. These grounds fall under three primary categories:

  • Employee-Related Grounds

    • Lack of necessary qualifications or skills
    • Health issues preventing job performance
    • Disciplinary breaches (e.g., severe misconduct, repeated violations)
    • Loss of required licenses or certifications for the position
  • Business-Related Grounds

    • Closure of the enterprise or a part of it
    • Reduction in workload
    • Organizational restructuring
  • Mutual Agreement

    • Both the employer and employee agree to terminate the contract.

Notice Requirements

  • Indefinite Term Contracts: The minimum notice period is 30 days. Contractual agreements can stipulate longer periods (up to a maximum of 3 months).
  • Fixed-Term Contracts: The minimum notice period is three months, but it cannot exceed the remaining contract term.
  • Termination Without Notice: Under exceptional circumstances outlined in the Labour Code, the employer can terminate the employee without notice (e.g., severe disciplinary misconduct).

Severance Pay

  • Termination Due to Business Reasons: Employers must provide severance pay, typically calculated based on the employee's length of service.
  • Mutual Agreement: Severance may be negotiated (at least four times the last gross monthly salary).
  • Disciplinary Dismissal: Generally, no severance pay is due.

Additional Information

  • Special Protections: Bulgarian law provides additional protections to certain categories of employees, such as pregnant women, employees on parental leave, and those with disabilities. Termination of these groups is more restrictive.
  • Dispute Resolution A terminated employee may challenge the dismissal in court if they believe it was unlawful.


In Bulgaria, the Protection Against Discrimination Act (PDA) is the primary law that ensures equality for all and prohibits discrimination. This law covers a wide range of protected characteristics.

Protected Characteristics

The PDA explicitly prohibits discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Ethnicity
  • Human genome
  • Citizenship
  • Origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Education
  • Convictions
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Property status
  • Disability
  • Membership of a workers' or employers' organization

Forms of Discrimination

The PDA identifies several types of discrimination:

  • Direct Discrimination: This occurs when someone is treated less favorably because of a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect Discrimination: This happens when a seemingly neutral policy, rule, or practice puts a specific group at a disadvantage.
  • Harassment: This is unwanted behavior related to a protected characteristic that creates an intimidating, humiliating, or hostile environment.
  • Instructions to discriminate: This is when someone is pressured to discriminate against others.

Redress Mechanisms

Individuals who experience discrimination have several options available for seeking redress:

  • The Commission for Protection Against Discrimination (CPD): This is an independent body that investigates discrimination complaints and can impose sanctions on violators.
  • Judicial system: Individuals can file lawsuits and seek compensation through the courts.
  • Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria: This office can investigate claims of discrimination by public institutions.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers play a significant role in preventing and addressing discrimination in the workplace. The PDA mandates the following responsibilities:

  • Creating a non-discriminatory environment: Employers are required to establish policies and procedures that promote equality and prevent discrimination.
  • Training: Employers must provide training to employees on anti-discrimination law and policies.
  • Handling complaints: Employers must have a system in place for investigating and resolving discrimination complaints in a timely and effective manner.

Working conditions

Bulgaria, a member of the European Union, adheres to specific standards regarding working conditions. These include regulations on work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements to ensure employee safety, well-being, and productivity.

Working Hours and Overtime

  • Standard Workweek: The typical workweek in Bulgaria is 40 hours, with most businesses operating on an 8-hour workday, 5 days a week schedule. This timeframe can vary depending on the industry and company agreements.
  • Maximum Working Hours: Bulgarian law restricts daily working hours to a maximum of 10 hours, with a 48-hour maximum for a five-day workweek.
  • Overtime: Employers can request extended hours under specific circumstances, but these extensions cannot push daily limits beyond 10 hours. Overtime compensation is usually provided in the form of additional paid time off.

Rest Periods

  • Lunch Break: A typical workday incorporates an unpaid lunch break of up to one hour.

Ergonomic Requirements

Bulgarian labor law mandates employers to guarantee safe and healthy working environments. This translates to:

  • Healthy Conditions: Employers must uphold minimum standards for factors like lighting, dust exposure, and providing necessary protective gear for specific professions.
  • Safe Work Practices: Regulations exist regarding the operation of machinery and the handling of tools to minimize workplace accidents.

These are general guidelines. Specific regulations may vary depending on the industry and type of work performed.

Health and safety

Bulgarian legislation prioritizes employee well-being through a robust framework of health and safety regulations. Understanding these regulations is crucial for both employers and employees.

Employer Obligations

The Labour Code of Bulgaria places significant responsibility on employers to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Their key obligations include:

  • Risk Assessment and Prevention: Employers must proactively identify potential hazards and implement preventive measures to minimize risks of accidents and occupational illnesses.
  • Safe Work Practices: Establishing clear guidelines for operating machinery, handling hazardous materials, and maintaining a clean and organized workspace falls under the employer's purview.
  • Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers are required to provide employees with appropriate PPE, such as safety glasses, gloves, or respirators, depending on the specific job demands.
  • Employee Training: Employers must provide employees with proper training on health and safety procedures relevant to their job roles.

Employee Rights

Bulgarian employees have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. This translates to the following rights:

  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work they believe poses a serious threat to their health and safety.
  • Access to Training: Employees are entitled to receive proper training on health and safety protocols.
  • Reporting Unsafe Conditions: Employees have the right to report unsafe work practices or hazardous conditions to their employer or relevant authorities.

Enforcement Agencies

The enforcement of health and safety regulations in Bulgaria falls under the purview of two primary agencies:

  • Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP): The MLSP develops, coordinates, and supervises the implementation of health and safety policies through its Executive Agency, the General Labour Inspectorate (GLI).
  • General Labour Inspectorate (GLI): The GLI conducts workplace inspections, investigates complaints, and imposes sanctions on employers found to be in violation of health and safety regulations.
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