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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Bulgaria

Standard working hours

Bulgarian labor law provides the framework for standard working hours within the country. Here are the key regulations:

  • Standard Workweek: The average workweek in Bulgaria is capped at 40 hours.
  • Daily Working Hours: A standard workday cannot exceed 8 hours.

There are also exceptions and flexibilities:

  • Reduced Working Hours: Agreements can be established for reduced working hours, though the maximum shift duration may be extended by 1 hour per day (Article 138 Labour Code).
  • Summarised Calculation of Working Time: This method allows for flexible scheduling within a set period, as long as the average working hours stay within the 40-hour limit per week (Article 139 Labour Code).

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of regulations regarding working hours in Bulgaria. For a comprehensive understanding of all applicable laws, it's recommended to consult the entire Labour Code or seek guidance from a legal professional.


Bulgarian labor law outlines specific limitations and compensation for overtime work, ensuring the protection of employee rights while providing employers with some degree of flexibility. Here are the key regulations:

  • Yearly Maximum: Employees cannot be required to work more than 150 overtime hours within a calendar year.
  • Monthly Maximums: Overtime is capped at 30 hours per month.
  • Weekly Maximums: Overtime is limited to 6 hours per week.
  • Daily Maximums: Overtime cannot exceed 3 hours during two consecutive workdays.

In terms of employee consent and records:

  • Employee Agreement: Employees are not obligated to work overtime unless explicitly agreed upon beforehand. This agreement can be included in the employment contract or reached as a separate agreement.
  • Employer Records: Employers are legally required to maintain detailed records of all overtime worked by their employees.

Regarding compensation for overtime:

  • Minimum Increases: While the specific amount can be negotiated, overtime compensation cannot fall below certain minimums established by law:
    • 50% Increase: For overtime worked on weekdays.
    • 75% Increase: For overtime worked on weekends.
    • 100% Increase: For overtime worked on public holidays.
  • Compensation Options: In some cases, employees may be offered compensatory rest time instead of increased pay, but this must be mutually agreed upon and adhere to specific regulations.

Rest periods and breaks

In Bulgaria, labor law guarantees workers specific entitlements to rest periods and breaks throughout the workday and workweek. These breaks are crucial for maintaining worker well-being and productivity.

Employees in Bulgaria have the right to a daily rest period of at least 12 hours between consecutive working days. This ensures sufficient time for recovery and prevents burnout.

The law mandates a weekly rest period of at least 48 uninterrupted hours for employees on a five-day workweek. This rest period must include two consecutive days, with one of those days being Sunday whenever possible. This extended break allows for proper physical and mental rejuvenation.

Employees are also entitled to a meal break after five hours of work. This break is not counted as working time and provides an opportunity for employees to rest and refuel.

In addition to meal breaks, the Labour Code empowers the health and safety agency to determine physiological breaks for specific occupations. These short breaks, typically 10-15 minutes each, are factored into working hours and allow for short periods of rest throughout the workday to combat fatigue and maintain focus.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Bulgarian labor law acknowledges the unique challenges associated with night and weekend work. To ensure worker well-being and fair compensation, specific regulations govern these situations.

Night work in Bulgaria is defined as any work performed between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. For minors, night work is prohibited between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The maximum daily working time for night shifts is 7 hours. This reduction acknowledges the increased strain night work places on employees.

Night work must be compensated with a premium of at least 50% on top of the regular pay rate. This financial incentive recognizes the disruption to normal sleep patterns and the additional challenges associated with night work. In addition to the premium pay, employees performing night work are entitled to an additional remuneration of no less than 15% of the minimum wage or 1 Bulgarian lev (around 0.51 EUR), whichever is higher, for each hour of night work performed. This further incentivizes night work and compensates for the potential health risks associated with it.

Bulgarian law mandates a weekly rest period of at least 48 uninterrupted hours, with one of those days being Sunday whenever possible. This ensures workers have sufficient downtime to recover from the workweek, even if some work falls on weekends. Work performed on weekends that is not considered overtime work (e.g., part of a regular shift schedule) is generally compensated at the standard pay rate. However, some collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts may stipulate higher compensation for weekend work.

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