The employment contract in Bulgaria
According to the Bulgarian labour law, the employment relationship between an employer and an employee begins with the concluding of an employment contract.
The legal provisions regarding the employment contract are stipulated in Chapter V, Section I of the Labour Code and also in three regulations, listed below:
- the regulation concerning persons that have not completed their 15th year of age (from 1987);
- Regulation N° 4 on the necessary documents that need to be attached to the employment contract (from 1993);
- Regulation N° 5 on the registration proceedings of employment relationships according to Article 62 (4) of the Labour Code.
The employment contract is an agreement between two parties: the employee that offers his service with his working power(labour)and the employer that creates the working conditions and pays remuneration for the work performance.
The written form is obligatory for the validity of the contract.
According to Article 66 of the Labour Code, each employment contract must contain at least the following information:
- The identity of the parties (regarding natural persons: name, personal number, ID number, address, general seniority in office, professional experience in this position; regarding legal persons: legal name, identification number, registered office of the company and business address, the manager/authorized representative and his personal number);
- The place of work;
- Job description of the position and the character of the work;
- The term of the contract and the duration of the probation period;
- The amount of basic and extended paid annual holiday and of additional paid annual holiday;
- An equal termination notice period for both parties;
- The conclusion date of the contract and the date of the actual performance;
- The regular duration of the working day/week;
- The basic remuneration and supplementary remuneration of regular nature.
The employment contract may contain other clauses that differ from the described essentialia negotii. It is to be noted that, if there is a collective labour agreement concluded prior to the individual contract, the individual clauses of the latter should be more favourable to the employee than those in the collective agreement, otherwise the individual clauses shall be considered void.
Each party receives a copy of the labour contract. The employment contract must be personally signed by the employee. If the employer is a legal person, the employment contract is signed by its representative (the manager). The signature of both parties creates the employment relationship. The contract must be filed with the Bulgarian tax office within 3 days. Before filing it, the employee may not enter into service. The employee owes the fulfillment of his obligations and services according to the employment contract from the day that he enters into service.
The job description – a detailed description of the employee’s rights and obligations regarding the respective position – is an inseparable element of the employment contract.
Generally, the employment contract is concluded for an unlimited period (Article 67 (2) of the Labour Code).
The employment contract may also be concluded as a fixed-term contract of employment. In this case, an explicit agreement between the parties is required.
The following employment contracts are fixed-term contracts:
- employment contracts for a specific period that may not exceed 3 years (Article 68 (1) N° 1 of the Labour Code);
- regarding temporarily unlimited activities and activities that are not seasonal or short-term, the employment contract may be concluded for at least one year (Article 68 (4) of the Labour Code);
- contracts regarding the attainment of qualification (Article 229 of the Labour Code);
- contracts regarding the upgrading of qualification or retraining (Article 234 (3) of the Labour Code).
The fixed-term contracts of employment are regulated in Article 68 (1) N° 2 to 5 of the Labour Code:
- contracts regarding the performance of a specific activity (the term is defined by the extent and the nature of the task);
- contracts regarding the temporary replacement of another employee;
- contracts regarding the undertaking of a mandate job (e.g. in a governmental body).
The employee that concluded a fixed-term contract of employment acquires the same rights and is subject to the same obligations as the employee that concluded an unlimited employment contract.
Types of the employment contracts
1. Employment contracts with a trial period (Articles 70, 71 of the Labour Code)
This contract is concluded to check the employee’s skills. From the perspective of the employee – such a contract could provide him with the opportunity to test if this work is suitable for him.
The probation may not exceed a time period of 6 months. The contract must indicate in whose favour the probation is agreed. If the employment contract does not contain this agreement, it is assumed that the time period is in favour of both parties.
During the probation period, both parties are entitled to the same rights and subject to the same obligations as parties that concluded an unlimited employment contract.
The employment contract on probation may be concluded only once regarding the same employee in the same company for the same position.
Until the expiration of trial period the party in whose favour the time period has been concluded may terminate the contract without a notice of termination. If the contract has not been cancelled within this period, the fixed-term employment relationship transforms into an employment relationship for unlimited time.
2. Employment contracts for internships (Articles 230 to 233 of the Labour Code)
Regarding internships, the employer agrees to train the employee during the time of the contract.
3. Main employment contracts and Additional employment contracts
The main employment contract is regulated in Chapter V, paragraph I of the Labour Code. If an employee concluded two or more employment contracts, the one that was concluded first/the one that requires more working hours is assumed to be the main employment contract.
Additional employment contracts are contracts that have been concluded in spite of the existence of a main employment contract. If not provided otherwise by law, the general rules regarding employment contracts apply. Article 113 of the Labour Code regulates the duration of the working time. This contract must contain the duration of the working time and the allocation of the working time in days, weeks etc.
The employee may conclude an additional employment contract with his main employer or a new employer. The employee may conclude the following additional employment contracts:
a) additional employment contracts with the same employer (Article 110 of the Labour Code)
- The job is done outside the defined working time;
- The extra work must not be for the same employment function as the work for the main employment contract;
- The working time from the additional employment contract is not considered when calculating the seniority;
- The additional employment contract is concluded with the same employer.
b) additional employment contract with a different employer (Article 111 of the Code)
- The working time from the additional employment contract is not considered when calculating for seniority;
- The additional employment contract is concluded with a new employer.
o as long as the provision of Article 113 of the Labour Code is not infringed, various additional employment contracts may be concluded;
o additional employment contracts may only be concluded if it is not forbidden in the main employment contract.
Additional (extra) work is forbidden for the following categories of employees:
- employees that work under dangerous or harmful working conditions (Article 112 N° 1 of the Labour Code)
- employees defined in a special law or regulation (Article 112 N° 2 of the Code).