The employment relationship in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian labour law is characterized by a multistage normative regulation. Aside of the Labour Code (Bulg.: Кодекс на труда) of 1986, numerous specific acts and regulations apply.

The employment relationship

The employment relationship is the relationship between employer and employee regulated by the labour law. The employee must perform his work tasks and maintain the established work discipline. The employer on his part must provide appropriate working conditions and pay the employee’s agreed remuneration.

An important characteristic and difference to the civil contract for services is that within an employment relationship, the employee does not owe results but the diligent performance of a specific job.

The grounds for the emergence of employment relationships are precisely enumerated in the Labour Code. They arise due to employment contracts, competitive examination, elections and administrative acts. The rights and obligations of the employee and the employer are defined by the content of the employment relationship.

The employee as a party to the employment relationship

Persons, doing mainly physical labour are classified as employees; persons doing mainly mental labour are classified as clerks.

The employee must perform his job during his work time and maintain the work discipline. To enter into an employment relationship as a natural person, the following two conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. The person must have reached a specific minimum age – the person musst have reached a certain level of biological and psychological maturity to be entitled to the rights and subjected to the obligations of the employment relationship.
  • In Bulgaria, the common minimum age to enter into an employment relationship is 16 years (Article 301 (3) of the Labour Code). This requirement for minimum age is obligatory; a violation of this requirement leads to the contract’s invalidity. Exceptions are provided by the law and are numerus clausus.
  • The minimum age may be increased to 18 years for positions, involving difficult, dangerous or harmful work (Article 303 (1) of the Labour Code). The work is harmful if it is related to biological, physical or chemical threats that may harm the person’s physical condition or work ability. A dangerous job is one where even considered the due diligence of the employee the danger itself is objectively probable and cannot be eluded.
  • There are three cases where the minimum age may be lower:
  • 15 years for jobs that are easy, not dangerous or harmful to the person’s health resp. his normal, mental and moral development (Article 301 (2) of the Labour Code);
  • 13 years for boys and 14 years for girls willing to work in the circus (Article 301 (2) of the Labour Code);
  • Regarding art activities, there is no minimum age determined.

*Persons that have not completed the 15th year of age are subject to a specific regulation. They may be employed in artistic fields under condition of the presence of their parent’s or representative’s written consent and the agreement of the labour inspectorate.

The age is to be verified with the identity card or the birth certificate of the person.

  1. appropriate state of health, verified with a medical certificate.

The employer as a party to the employment relationship

Employers can be any natural person, legal entity or a division of the latter or any other organizationally and economically autonomous entity that independently employs personnel.

The employer possesses administrative power (organisational power), specific power of authority (he is entitled to set the internal code of conduct) and disciplinary power (he is entitled to impose disciplinary measures on employees for failing to abide to their obligations).

The basic obligations of the employer are defined in the Articles 124 and 127 to 129 of the Labour Code as follows:

  • to provide normal conditions for the employee to perform his job;
  • payment of the labour remuneration;
  • to make payments for the social security contributions for the employee for all social security risks.

The employer issues instructions and regulations. They may be issued orally or in writing and are binding for the employees if lawful.