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Work in Bulgaria

Work in Bulgaria

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1. Registration procedures and residence permits

2 Finding a job

2.1 How to find a job

2.2 How to apply for a job

3. Moving to another country

3.1 Movement of goods and capital

3.2 Finding accommodation

3.3 Finding a school

3.4 Taking a car with you (includes information on driving licences)

3.5 Check-list for before and after you arrive in a new country

4. Working conditions

4.1 Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

4.2 Types of employment

4.3 Employment contracts

4.4 Special categories

4.5 Self-employment

4.6 Earnings

4.7 Working hours

4.8 Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

4.9 Ending employment

4.10 Employee representation

4.11 Labour disputes – strikes

4.12 Vocational training

5.  Living conditions 

5.1 Political, administrative and legal systems

5.2 Income and taxation

5.3 Cost of living

5.4. Accommodation

5.5. Social security in Bulgaria

5.6. European Health Insurance Card

5.7.Healthcare system

5.8.Educational system 

5.9 Cultural and social life

5.10 Private life (birth, marriage, death)

5.11 Transport

6.Traineeships 

6.1 Definition and eligibility 

6.2. Contract type and remuneration – Traineeships

6.3 Where to find opportunities – Traineeships

6.4 Where to advertise opportunities – Traineeships 

6.5. Funding for employers - Traineeships

7. Employment contracts for "on-the-job training" and for the acquisition of qualifications (Apprenticeships) 

7.1. Definition and eligibility

7.2. Contract type and remuneration – Apprenticeships

7.3. Where to find opportunities – Apprenticeshipshired 

7.4. Where to advertise opportunities – Apprenticeships

7.5. Funding for employers – Apprenticeships

 

1. Registration procedures and residence permits

Citizens of the European Union, the States party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Swiss Confederation and their family members may enter and leave the Republic of Bulgaria using a valid ID card or a valid passport and freely reside in the country for a period of up to 3 months. Immediately after arriving and taking up residence in Bulgaria, citizens of other Member States are required to register their address with the municipal office at their place of residence. Hotel guests are registered by the hotel administration.

Following the initial 3-month period, citizens of the European Union (EU), the States party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Swiss Confederation and their family members are obliged to register with the Directorate General on Migration (or the relevant Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Interior) —www.mvr.bg. The registration process requires them to prove that they are engaged in work (as employees or as self-employed persons), have been admitted to study at an educational establishment, or have sufficient resources to support themselves and not be a burden on the Bulgarian social security system. Applicants are issued with Temporary Residence Permits (valid for up to five years) subject to the provision of: an identity document, a document attesting to any of the circumstances mentioned above (e.g. an employment contract, a document showing a state fee paid). Subject to provision of the documents above, applicants are issued long-term residence permits (valid for up to five years).

Citizens of the European Union or their family members who are also citizens of the European Union receive a permanent residence permit if they have resided legally and continuously in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of 5 years.

A work permit is not required for citizens of the European Union, the EEA and the Swiss Confederation.

Useful links:

2.  Finding a job

2.1 How to find a job

Job seekers can browse available job vacancies on the EURES portal, the Employment Agency’s website (in the Electronic Career Days section) and the Bulgarian EURES website: http://eures.bg. The website of the Employment Agency provides job seekers with information about upcoming career days, which they may attend if they wish. The Bulgarian EURES website features job vacancies published by employers in Bulgaria and abroad, and by officials as part of the EURES network. Its functionalities enable job seekers to register, prepare a CV and apply directly for any vacancies published.

Once in Bulgaria, citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Swiss Confederation may register and seek employment via the Employment Agency’s job centres. In order to register and seek employment through the network of 106 local job centres, they are required to produce an identity document and submit a standard application form along with a certificate showing the address at which they reside in Bulgaria (issued by the Migration Directorate at the local police department of the Regional Directorate of the Interior (RDVR)). In cases of short-term residence (less than 3 months), a written statement by the person at whose address the applicant lives or a hotel card bearing an address may be used to prove the address of the applicant for the purposes of seeking a job and/or transferring an unemployment benefit. The following documents are required for registration with a job centre: a document attesting to the level of education completed, a document attesting to previous work experience, a licence to practise a particular profession (where available). The documents attesting to the completion of a level of education and qualifications obtained, as well as the licence to practise a certain profession, must be authenticated with the country of issuance. Information, consultations and job mediation services are provided to all registered job seekers. Further information can be obtained by telephone on: +359 2 980 87 19 (Employment Agency Information and Service Centre) or on the Employment Agency website. Registration is also possible by sending the requisite document via a licensed postal operator. The website provides information (but only in Bulgarian) about registered private agencies providing job placement intermediary services and temporary employment agencies offering job seekers an alternative route to employment (lists of legally operating private employment intermediaries in Bulgaria are available under the heading ‘Private Intermediaries’; a list of registered temporary employment agencies is available under the heading ‘Temporary Employment Agencies’). Bulgarian EURES advisers will be able to provide job seekers with information in English, German or French. In accordance with Bulgarian law, the services provided to job seekers by employment agencies are free of charge.

The use of dedicated online portals featuring vacancies has been gaining in popularity as an alternative form of seeking employment in Bulgaria. Such portals include the Bulgarian EURES website  and many privately-owned websites, such as jobs.bg, karieri.bg, zaplata.bg, jobtiger.bg, rabota.bg. Another alternative route to employment is to look for a job on the corporate websites of the companies themselves, especially those working in the IT sector.

Useful links:

2.2 How to apply for a job

To apply for a job, you first have to prepare a good CV. The use of the European CV format available on the Europass website is recommended. Employers usually ask for a brief cover letter to be submitted along with the CV, so that applicants can demonstrate their interest in the particular job. Following the approval of the initially submitted documents (CV and cover letter), employers often ask for additional information and documentation. It is useful to have properly prepared (i.e. translated and authenticated) documents attesting to the level of education completed and qualifications obtained, professional experience relevant to the position you are applying for and references from previous employers. Bulgaria does not yet have a well-established skills validation system.

Applications and any necessary documents relating to vacancies published on the EURES portal should be sent directly to the contact persons indicated in the relevant job announcement.

On the national EURES website (https://eures.bg) job seekers may register and fill our or attach their CV and other files as needed, and apply for jobs via the website.

An interested employer normally invites the applicant to an interview.

Once registered with a job centre, applicants interested in a particular vacancy advertised by it or a vacancy posted in the e-job exchange section of the website will receive a reference letter from the job intermediary to present to the employer.

3. Moving to another country

3.1 Movement of goods and capital

The free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Single Market.

The removal of national barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU is one of the principles enshrined in the EU Treaties. From a traditionally protectionist starting point, the countries of the EU have continuously been lifting restrictions to form a ‘common’ or single market. This commitment to create a European trading area without frontiers has led to the creation of more wealth and new jobs, and has globally established the EU as a world trading player alongside the United States and Japan.

Despite Europe’s commitment to breaking down all internal trade barriers, not all sectors of the economy have been harmonised. The European Union decided to regulate at a European level sectors which might impose a higher risk for Europe’s citizens – such as pharmaceuticals or construction products. The majority of products (considered a ‘lower risk’) are subject to the application of the so-called principle of mutual recognition, which means that essentially every product legally manufactured or marketed in one of the Member States can be freely moved and traded within the EU internal market.

Limits to the free movement of goods

The EU Treaty gives Member States the right to set limits to the free movement of goods when there is a specific common interest such as protection of the environment, citizens’ health, or public policy, to name a few. This means for example that if the import of a product is seen by a Member State’s national authorities as a potential threat to public health, public morality or public policy, it can deny or restrict access to its market. Examples of such products are genetically modified food or certain energy drinks.

Even though there are generally no limitations for the purchase of goods in another Member State, as long as they are for personal use, there is a series of European restrictions for specific categories of products, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Free movement of capital

Another essential condition for the functioning of the internal market is the free movement of capital. It is one of the four basic freedoms guaranteed by EU legislation and represents the basis of the integration of European financial markets. Europeans can now manage and invest their money in any EU Member State.

The liberalisation of capital markets has marked a crucial point in the process of economic and monetary integration in the EU. It was the first step towards the establishment of our European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the common currency, the Euro.

Advantage

The principle of the free movement of capital not only increases the efficiency of financial markets within the Union, it also brings a series of advantages to EU citizens. Individuals can carry out a broad number of financial operations within the EU without major restrictions. For instance, individuals with few restrictions can

  1. easily open a bank account,
  2. buy shares
  3. invest, or
  4. purchase real estate

in another Member State. EU Companies can invest in, own and manage other European enterprises.

Exceptions

Certain exceptions to this principle apply both within the Member States and with third countries. They are mainly related to taxation, prudential supervision, public policy considerations, money laundering and financial sanctions agreed under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The European Commission is continuing to work on the completion of the free market for financial services, by implementing new strategies for financial integration in order to make it even easier for citizens and companies to manage their money within the EU.

3.2 Finding accommodation

There is a lot of accommodation on offer in Bulgaria and it is easy to rent or buy. Properties may be rented fully or partially furnished, or unfurnished. It is also possible to rent a room in a property where the tenant will live alongside the property owners. Property rentals are most expensive in Sofia and in some other big cities such as Varna, Plovdiv and Burgas, where rental costs may be up to 10 times higher than in smaller towns. A search on the websites of some major private real estate agencies for examples shows that a two-bedroom apartment can be rented for the following amounts in: Sofia — EUR 354 Varna — EUR 235 Plovdiv — EUR 270 Burgas — EUR 260. Rental contracts are usually signed between landlords and tenants. In most cases, rent is payable in cash or via bank transfer on a certain day of the month. Usually, utility bills (water, electricity and heating) are not included in the rent and are payable by the tenant on a regular basis.

For the purchase/sale of a dwelling, both purchaser and seller must provide identification documents, and the latter must also produce documents proving ownership of the property and verifying the existence or absence of encumbrances. The sale transaction is conducted before a notary and entered into the property file. Property purchase prices also vary, depending on city and location, i.e. central or suburban). A search on the websites of some major private real estate agencies for example shows that the average purchase price for a two-bedroom apartment (per sq. m.) are as follows: Sofia — EUR 1 264 Varna — EUR 815 Plovdiv — EUR 768 Burgas — EUR 875.

Accommodation is advertised by real estate agencies, local and regional newspapers and magazines, and on various websites and social media. A fee is usually payable when you use the services of an agency. The website of the National Real Estate Association offers a number of agencies to choose from.

Useful links:

3.3 Finding a school

There are many primary and secondary state schools and daytime nursery schools in every town in Bulgaria. State school education and textbooks for children during their first seven grades are free of charge. In larger towns children may also attend private schools and nurseries. There are many universities in Bulgaria. The better known university towns include: Sofia, Varna, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo.

The Ministry of Education keeps a register of pre-schools and schools in the Republic of Bulgaria, which is available at: https://reg.mon.bg/Schools/. The register contains general contact information on state-owned nursery schools, state-owned and municipal schools, private nurseries and schools, state-owned and municipal centres providing support for children with special educational needs and establishments providing specialised services among others.

Detailed information on universities in Bulgaria is available on the website of the Bulgarian University Ranking System: - https://rsvu.mon.bg/rsvu4/#/.

Access to the education system requires formal recognition of: completed stages of school education (academic degrees and vocational qualifications); recognition of tertiary education acquired and of periods of study completed at foreign higher education institutions/in a school situated in another country as equivalent to those in the Bulgarian system of education.

Documents attesting to periods of study or grades completed (for grades 7 to 12 inclusive) and to the completion of secondary education, as well as documents relevant to the recognition of secondary education and/or vocational qualifications, are submitted to a Regional Education Management Office chosen by the applicant or their parent(s). The following documents must be submitted:

  1. a standard application form;
  2. a document attested to the completion of school education and/or the acquisition of a professional qualification or a copy thereof, attested by a notary or the issuing school;
  3. a document, which states the rights to which the holder is entitled in terms of continuing their education and/or acquiring further qualifications, when this is not expressly mentioned in the document referred to in point 2 — in the original or as a copy attested by a notary or certified by the issuing school;
  4. a transcript of the subjects studied with the hours of study and the grades given, if not included in the document referred to in point 2 — in the original or a copy certified by a notary or by the school that issued the document;
  5. a notarised translation into Bulgarian of the documents by a sworn translator — in the original;
  6. a document attesting to the last grade completed in a Bulgarian school — in the original or a copy certified by a notary or the school that issued the document;
  7. proof of payment of the relevant state fee — in the original.

The completion of the seventh grade up to the last grade of secondary school, as well as the completion of primary and secondary education and/or of vocational qualifications is recognised by a committee of experts attached to each Regional Directorate of Education (RDE).

Further information about the administrative service Certificate of Recognition of Completed Stages of Schooling or Degrees of Education and Vocational Qualifications on the Basis of Documents Issued by Schools of Foreign Countries is available here.

The documents attesting to the completion of grades 1 to 4 are submitted to the school at which the person wishes to continue their studies.

3.4 Taking a car with you (includes information on driving licences)

The implementation of the principle of free movement of people, is one of the cornerstones of our European construction, has meant the introduction a series of practical rules to ensure that citizens can travel freely and easily to any Member State of the European Union. Travelling across the EU with one’s car has become a lot less problematic. The European Commission has set a series of common regulations governing the mutual recognition of driving licences, the validity of car insurance, and the possibility of registering your car in a host country.

Your driving licence in the EU

There is currently no common EU driving licence in place, but the EU Member States have introduced a “Community Model” driving licence. This common model ensures that driving licences issued by different EU countries are easily recognised in other Member States. A principle of mutual recognition is generally applied. The licence is issued in accordance to national law, but should incorporate provisions concerning the Community Model, such as the basic conditions to be granted a licence.

Old driving licences issued before 1996 do not have to be exchanged for the new Community Model driving licence and remain valid until their expiration.

If an EU citizen takes up residence in another Member State, it is not necessary to exchange the driving licence, although many often do for practical reasons. Also, some Member States require that additional data be entered onto the licence to fulfil certain administrative requirements.

In the event of expiry, loss or theft, a new driving licence can be issued in the Member State of residence, in accordance to national conditions. Citizens should contact the competent authorities.

Registering your car in the host country

In the event you reside in another EU Member State and drive your car there for more that six months, you will be obliged to register the car with the local authorities and pay the host country’s registration tax.

Car Insurance

EU citizens can insure their car in any EU country, as long as the chosen insurance company is licensed by the host national authority to issue the relevant insurance policies. A company based in another Member State is entitled sell a policy for compulsory civil liability only if certain conditions are met. Insurance will be valid throughout the Union, no matter where the accident takes place.

Taxation

Value Added Tax or VAT on motor vehicles is ordinarily paid in the country where the car is purchased, although under certain conditions, VAT is paid in the country of destination.
More information on the rules which apply when a vehicle is acquired in one EU Member State and is intended to be registered in another EU Member State is available on the link "Motor vehicle tax".

Useful links:

3.5 Check-list for before and after you arrive in a new country

It is advisable for EU/EEA citizens to become familiar with the living and working conditions in Bulgaria before they arrive in the country. It is necessary to make accommodation arrangements in advance. For settlement purposes it is necessary to consider the fact that the country has not yet joined the Economic and Monetary Union (euro area) and the national currency is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN 1 = EUR 1.95583). Foreign currencies are exchanged at banks and currency exchange offices in all towns and cities.

Where a foreign national has family members who wish to attend a Bulgarian school, it is important that the correct documentation to allow entry into Bulgarian schools be checked and obtained before arrival in Bulgaria (see section ‘Finding a School’).

Where a national of another Member State wishes to relocate to Bulgaria taking their pet with them, the animal must travel on an individual pet passport which is based on a standard European template showing the identification number (electronic microchip), any distinctive features, the name and the address of the owner and a record of all vaccinations and de-worming treatments.

Where a foreign national wishes to work in Bulgaria but has not yet concluded an employment contract at the time of their arrival in the country, they may register in person, via electronic means or a licensed postal operator with the job centre (DBT) in the locality where they are registered as resident (see ‘How to find a job’ section) and the website of the Employment Agency: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/lesni-stupki-za-registracia-v-buroto-po-truda-bez-registracia/

Foreign nationals must obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) prior to departure for Bulgaria to be able to use the services of Bulgarian healthcare establishments free of charge if they require medical attention. Otherwise they should pay the costs of medical treatment and then submit an application for reimbursement, such reimbursement being made by the country in which they are insured.

A person who wishes to be seen and treated by a general practitioner must submit a form allowing them to choose and register with a general practitioner in their area, which they may obtain from the National Health Insurance Fund. In order to do so, first they need to obtain a foreign national ID (LNCh) from the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior. The completed form is then presented to the general practitioner selected.

Anyone who wishes to work in the country as a self-employed professional (trader, freelancer, craftsman, farmer, etc.) must first check the requirements for registration at the National Revenue Agency (NAP), the BULSTAT Register and the relevant chamber (see the ‘Self-employment’ section).

Useful links:

4. Working conditions

4.1 Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

4.2 Types of employment

In order to work in Bulgaria a person must be at least 16 years of age. By way of exception, persons aged 15 to 16 years may be employed to carry out work that is not physically demanding, hazardous to health or likely to impair their proper physical, intellectual and moral development or prevent them from attending school regularly or participating in career orientation or vocational training programmes. The employment of persons under the age of 18 carries a requirement to present a medical certificate attesting to the person’s fitness to carry out the work concerned, along with a certificate issued by the Labour Inspection Service in each case.

Employment contracts may be concluded for an indefinite or a fixed term and allow work to be carried out on a full or part-time basis. An employment contract [will generally have] a probation period of up to six months. An employment contract may stipulate that work responsibilities relating to the creation of a product and/or the provision of a service may be performed at the employee’s home, outside the workplace of the employer, for remuneration, using equipment or materials and other ancillary facilities of the employee or the employer. It is possible to conclude an employment contract with an enterprise providing temporary employment. A full working day is 8 hours, which makes for 40 hours and 5 working days per working week. Work may be carried out in shifts, including night shifts.

Full-time employment is more common. Employers usually include a clause in contracts providing for a probation period that may not exceed six months. During the probation period a worker may be dismissed without prior notice. Regardless of the type of work carried out, a written employment contract is mandatory.

As of 2015, the Labour Code provides for the possibility of concluding contracts for short-term seasonal agricultural work lasting a single day.

Before a worker or employee starts work, the employer must provide him or her with a copy of the concluded employment contract signed by both parties and a copy of the notification of a concluded employment contract, referred to in Article 62(3) of the Labour Code, certified by the territorial directorate of the National Revenue Agency. Workers or employees may enter into employment contracts with other employers to perform work outside their normal working hours under the main employment relationship.

The maximum total duration of working time provided for in an additional employment contract, coupled with the working time stipulated in the main employment contract, may not exceed 48 hours per week. With respect to persons under the age of 18, total working time may not exceed 40 hours per week. Persons aged 18 and over may work for more than 48 hours per week solely on the condition that they have stated their consent to do so in writing and submitted that statement to the employer with which they have concluded an additional employment contract.

An employment contract may also be concluded for work carried out on certain days of the month. These are then counted towards a person’s work experience.

Further information on Bulgarian labour law is available on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The General Labour Inspectorate Executive Agency is tasked with all checks of the implementation of labour law.

Definition of ‘seasonal worker’ and ‘seasonal work’

‘Seasonal worker’ and ‘seasonal work’ are defined in national law in the context of the entry and stay in Bulgaria of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers. More specifically, the following definitions are laid down in the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act:

  • ‘seasonal worker’means a third-country national who retains his or her principal place of residence in a third country and stays legally and temporarily in the Republic of Bulgaria to carry out seasonal work under one or more fixed-term work contracts concluded directly with an employer established in the Republic of Bulgaria;
  • ‘seasonal work’means an activity that is tied to a certain time of the year by a recurring event or pattern of events linked to seasonal conditions during which required labour levels are significantly above those necessary for usually ongoing operations.

These definitions are fully in line with Directive 2014/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers.

Types of employment contracts 

For seasonal work, the general rules laid down in the Bulgarian Labour Code apply, as well as the minimum monthly wage and the minimum hourly wage. 

Seasonal workers may be employed under a fixed-term contract under Article 68 of the Labour Code, which specifies the period of employment. 

For short-term seasonal work in agriculture, a specific type of contract is concluded under Article 114a of the Labour Code. The contract concerned is concluded with one employee on a daily basis for up to 90 days in a calendar year. Such contracts must contain information about the parties to the contract, the place where the work will be carried out, the type of activity to be performed, the remuneration, the date of performance of the work, the duration, start and end of the working day. The length of the normal working day is 8 hours, but the parties may agree on a part-time contract. Remuneration is paid directly to the employee against a receipt at the end of the working day. This type of contract is subject to certification by the General Labour Inspection Service. 

There is a mandatory template for the conclusion of such employment contracts. This as well as further information are available on the website of the General Labour Inspection Service on: https://www.gli.government.bg/bg/node/

4.3 Employment contracts

The rules for the employment relations between employers and workers in the Republic of Bulgaria are stipulated in the terms and conditions of employment contracts, which are concluded on a mandatory basis. Employment contracts are concluded in writing prior to the appointment of a worker or employee. They set out the place of employment, the job title, the nature of the work, the date of the contract and the date on which it takes effect, the term of employment, the amount of the basic and any additional paid annual leave, remuneration and the duration of the working day or week.

An employer is obliged to notify the conclusion of a contract to the relevant Territorial Directorate of the National Revenue Agency (NAP). The employer is also obliged to provide the worker or employee with a copy of the concluded employment contract signed by the two parties and a copy of the notification sent to the regional office of the NAP not later than 3 days following the conclusion of the employment contract itself.

Employment contracts may be concluded for an indefinite or definite period of time (fixed-term employment contracts). Fixed-term employment contracts become indefinite contracts when work continues to be carried out for five or more days after the expiry of the fixed term, no objection is received in writing from the employer and the position is still available. Most contracts also include a trial period of up to six months.

The employer must notify the worker in writing of any changes to the terms of employment not later than one month after these changes become effective.

Contracts with a probationary period may be terminated without prior notice during that period (which shall not exceed six months) by the party who benefits from the term of the probationary period. An employment contract is deemed to have been realised in full if it is not terminated prior to the end of the probation period. After this period has ended, the contract may only be terminated on general grounds.

Contracts of an indefinite duration (permanent contracts) are generally terminated with one month’s notice and fixed-term contracts with three months’ notice. The notice period cannot exceed the remaining term of the contract. Employment contracts may be terminated without prior notice by mutual consent of the parties or upon their expiry, when a worker or employee whose obligations have been discharged by a substitute returns from a temporary leave of absence, and when the work for which a person has been hired is completed, etc.

Employers may dismiss employees who have qualified for retirement based on age and length of service with one month’s notice. Employees may terminate their employment with the employer under the same conditions but without giving prior notice. In 2015, a new type of employment contract was introduced for short-term seasonal agricultural work. Such contracts have a duration of one day and must be certified by the General Labour Inspectorate.

The Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy sets out more detailed information about employment relations.

4.4 Special categories

Under the Bulgarian Labour Code, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, female employees receiving advanced IVF treatment, mothers of children under the age of three, disabled persons and minors (under the age of 18) enjoy special protection, including protection in the event of the termination of their employment contract.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, mothers

Employers may not assign pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and female workers and employees receiving advanced IVF treatment to jobs that may place them under a health or safety risk.

The employer may not send on a business trip a pregnant woman or the mother of a child under the age of three without her written consent.

People with reduced working capacity

Employers must assign workers/employees who have been issued with a prescription for occupational rehabilitation to appropriate work. Otherwise, they must pay compensation to such employees. Workers/employees with a disability of 50 % or more than 50 % are entitled to paid annual leave of not less than 26 working days.

People with disabilities

In Bulgaria, direct and indirect discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by law. Under the Integration of Disabled Persons Act, people with disabilities enjoy a number of tax and social benefits and are entitled to financial support on a monthly basis or for a special purpose. Each ministry has a number of responsibilities depending on its area of competence. Government policy on the integration of disabled people is implemented by a dedicated body – the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Minors

Minors (persons younger than 18) can only be hired after a full medical examination and subject to a labour inspectorate permit issued on a case-by-case basis. Workers/employees younger than 18 years old may not work more than 7 hours per day in a 35-hour/5-day working week. They are entitled to a minimum paid annual leave of 26 working days, which also applies to the calendar year in which they turn 18.

4.5 Self-employment

In order to register in Bulgaria, an economic operator (natural or legal person) is required to comply with the requirements laid down in the Company Act currently in force. Registrations are currently handled by the National Company Registration Agency.

The preferred form for starting a small to medium-sized business in Bulgaria is a limited liability company (OOD) or a sole owner limited liability company (EOOD). The minimum initial capital requirement at the time of registration is BGN 2. Economic operations are also commonly conducted by sole traders (ET in Bulgarian) but this form of enterprise is specific in that the natural person who is a sole trader must cover any and all of its liabilities as a sole trader using its own property in addition to that of the sole trader entity itself.

Joint stock companies (AD in Bulgarian) are also commonly registered. The minimum capital requirement for an AD is BGN 50 000.

Craft is the activity of producing articles and/or providing services in an artisanal manner. Typical crafts include making jewellery, knives, clocks, keys and hats, engraving, stonework, hairdressing, etc. The various Regional Artisan Chambers keep their own regional craftspeople registers. Further information can be found on their respective websites. Self-employed craftspeople are also obliged to have their information entered in the BULSTAT Register.

‘Freelance professionals’ means: chartered accountants; consultants; auditors; lawyers; notaries; private enforcement agents; jurors; experts court witnesses registered with the courts and the prosecution service; licensed valuators; industrial property representatives; medical practitioners; translators and interpreters; architects; engineers; technical supervisors; professionals in the field of culture, education, science and the arts; insurance agents; and other natural persons who simultaneously meet the following requirements:

a) carry out professional work at their own account;

b) are not registered as sole traders;

c) are covered by the definition of self-employed professionals laid down in the Social Insurance Code.

Freelancers are required to register in the BULSTAT register kept by the Registry Agency and as a self-employed person with the National Revenue Agency (NAP).

Some freelance professionals (inter alia, architects, engineers carrying out investment design work and lawyers) are also required to register with the respective chamber/bar association in order to obtain a full licence to practice their profession.

Farmers and tobacco growers are a particular category. They must register with the corresponding Municipal Agricultural Service (under the Regional Agricultural Directorate) responsible for the area. Further information is available on the websites of the State Fund Agriculture and Regional Agricultural Directorates.

Useful links:

4.6 Earnings

There is a minimum monthly and hourly wage in Bulgaria, which is determined on an annual basis by the Council of Ministers. As of 1 January 2021, these stand at BGN 650 and BGN 3.92 respectively, with a full working day consisting of 8 hours and a full working week of 5 working days, throughout a full working month. Minimum social security thresholds are also fixed for all main economic activities and occupational groups.

Tables setting out the amounts of social security contributions (DOO) for persons with an employment contract and for self-employed persons are available in the For the Customer, Information Materials section of the National Social Security Institute website. After the various mandatory deductions from a person’s salary have been made, the taxable income remains, 10 % of which is payable in the form of income tax. For instance, if a person’s gross monthly salary is BGN 2 000 (roughly equal to EUR 1 000), that person’s net salary will be about BGN 1 550. The overall amount of mandatory deductions will be around BGN 450.

Remuneration is usually paid on a monthly basis but it is also possible for payment to be made on a weekly basis. Typically (where requested by a worker), a part of the monthly remuneration may be paid in advance. Women and men are entitled to equal remuneration for carrying out the same or essentially equivalent work. A person’s age does not, by law, make a difference in remuneration either. Where night work is carried out, higher rates negotiated by the parties to the employment contract apply. These rates may not be less than the rates set by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria. Where overtime work is carried out, higher rates agreed between the worker/employee and the employer also apply. These may not be less than 50 % higher for overtime work carried out on working days, 75 % higher for work carried out on non-working days and 100 % higher for work carried out on official holidays in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Social security contributions and income tax are deducted from the workers’ monthly pay and paid into the budget of the National Revenue Agency (NAP) by their employers. Freelance professionals are responsible for paying their social security contributions and taxes. Receiving a salary slip is not obligatory but every worker may request one. A salary slip indicates the gross salary, all deductions made from it and the net salary.

Useful links:

4.7 Working hours

The duration of a working week in Bulgaria is 5 days, with the normal amount of weekly working time not exceeding 40 hours. The normal length of the working day may not exceed 8 hours.

For operational reasons, employers may extend the working hours on certain working days by a written order and compensate that extension by reducing working hours on other days. Extended daily working time may not exceed 10 hours. In such cases, the total working week may not exceed 48 hours. Working hours may not be extended on more than 20 consecutive days and/or for more than 60 days per calendar year.

For reasons relating to the nature of the work carried out in certain jobs, employers may make arrangements for overtime. In such cases, workers are required to carry out their duties outside of regular working hours, where necessary. Where overtime is introduced, the total duration of working hours must allow for the minimum uninterrupted daily and weekly rest periods set out in the Labour Code, which stand at 12 hours and 48 hours respectively.

Work in a company may be organised in two or more shifts where this is required by the specific nature of the production or manufacturing process. The way shifts alternate at a company is regulated by the company’s rules of procedure.

The employer may make arrangements for working time to be calculated on an aggregated basis. The total duration of a shift where working time is calculated for a longer period may not exceed 12 hours, while the total duration of a working week may not exceed 56 hours.

In Bulgaria, workers and employers are also entitled to negotiate work that is carried out during a certain part of the working time provided for by law (part-time work) but this is not common practice.

Where working hours are flexible, employers determine the core hours during which employees must be present at their workplace, while work responsibilities in the remaining hours may be discharged on any other day of the week. The way in which working time is recorded is governed by the internal rules and regulations of each enterprise.

Where night work is carried out, the duration of the normal 5-day working week may not exceed 35 hours. The normal duration of night work carried out in the course of a 5-day working week may not exceed 7 hours. Night work is defined as work carried out between 22.00 and 6.00 and, in the case of minors under the age of 16 years, between 20.00 and 6.00.

During normal working hours workers are entitled to one or several rest periods, which are not included in their working hours. Meal breaks may not be shorter than 30 minutes. Workers and employees are entitled to an uninterrupted period of rest of at least 12 hours between working days. In the case of a 5-day working week, workers and employees are entitled to a rest period of 2 consecutive days, one of which typically falls on a Sunday. In other words, workers and employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 48 hours per week. When work hours are added up, the uninterrupted weekly rest period total must be at least 36 hours.

Reduced working hour arrangements apply to the following categories of workers and employees:

  1. workers and employees carrying out work under specific conditions, which present a risk for their life and health that may not be reduced or mitigated regardless of any measures taken, hence reducing the number of hours of work is the only way to limit health hazards;
  2. workers and employees under the age of 18 years.

The types of work to be carried out under reduced working hour arrangements are stipulated in a regulation adopted by the Council of Ministers. Where the reduced working hours arrangements referred to in Article 137(1) and (2) of the Labour Code apply, the remuneration of workers and employees and their other rights under an employment contract are not affected.

More information about working hours is set out in the Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents. Codes and Laws’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

4.8 Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Each worker or employee is entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave. In collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts, workers and employees may negotiate longer leave periods. Depending on the specific nature of the work, certain categories of workers and employees may be entitled to longer periods of annual leave in addition to that provided for by law. The minimum duration of this period for the different categories of workers and employees is set by the Council of Ministers. A worker or employee may use their paid annual leave either in a single uninterrupted period or over the course of several periods. Some days of annual leave may be transferred to the next calendar year; in this case the employer must ensure that such leave is taken by mid-year. Where a worker (employee) obtains their first job, they are entitled to use their paid annual leave after not less than four months of work. Where a contract is terminated before a worker or employee gains four months of work experience, they are entitled to receive compensation for the number of days of unused paid leave. Paid annual leave may be used after receiving a written approval from the employer. Workers and employees under the age of 18 years and mothers of children under the age of 7 years take their leave during the summer and, if they wish to do so, at other times during the year. Workers/employees are also entitled to an unpaid leave, regardless of whether they have used their paid annual leave or of the length of their work experience.

The official public holidays in Bulgaria are 1 January (New Year's Day), 3 March (Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule - national holiday of the Republic of Bulgaria), 1 May (Labour Day and International Workers' Solidarity Day), 6 May (St. George's Day, Army and Bravery Day), 24 May (Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture, and of Slavonic literature), 6 September (Unification Day), 22 September (Bulgarian Independence Day), 1 November (Day of the National Enlighteners — non-holiday for all educational institutions), 24 December (Christmas Eve), 25 and 26 December (Christmas Day, Christmas Day) and Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and Monday, which in the respective year are designated for its celebration. When the official holidays under paragraph 1, excluding the Easter holidays, fall on a Saturday and/or a Sunday, the first or the first 2 business days after them are non-working days.

Workers and employees are entitled to leave for temporary incapacity for work due to general sickness or occupational disease, accident at work, for sanatorium treatment or for urgent medical examination or tests, quarantine, suspension from work prescribed by the health authorities, attendance of a sick or quarantined member of their family, urgent need to accompany a sick member of their family to a medical examination, test or treatment, as well as for taking care of a healthy child dismissed from a children’s establishment by reason of a quarantine imposed on the establishment or on the child. These types of leave must be authorised by the healthcare authorities. Workers/employees are entitled to receive monetary compensation for temporary incapacity for work.

Female workers/employees are entitled to maternity leave of 410 days per child, of which 45 days must be taken before giving birth. Where the child’s parents are married or live in the same household, the father is entitled to 15 days’ leave, which begins on the date on which the child’s mother is discharged from the hospital. With the consent of the mother (adoptive mother), after the infant reaches the age of six months the father (adoptive father) may use paternal leave in lieu of the mother for the remainder of the leave period of 410 days. After using up her maternity or adoption leave, a mother is entitled to additional parental leave for her first, second and third child until they reach the age of two. With the consent of the mother, this type of leave may be used by the father or any of the child’s grandparents if they are in an employment relationship.

Apart from the types of leave outlined above, a worker or employee in secondary or higher education whilst remaining in employment with the permission of their employer is entitled to paid leave equivalent to 25 working days per academic year. Students are also entitled to one-off paid leave equivalent to 30 working days to prepare for and sit a matriculation examination or a state examination, or prepare and defend a thesis, an end of studies project or a dissertation.

There are also other types of leave such as leave granted for carrying out civic, public or other duties, or trade union activities or for active duty as a member of the volunteer reserve corps, etc.

More information about the different types of leave is set out in the Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Legislation’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

4.9 Ending employment

Employment may be terminated by an employer or a worker with or without prior notice. An employment contract is terminated in writing. Employment is terminated without prior notice in the following most common cases: by mutual agreement of the parties expressed in writing; upon completion of the specific work for which the contract was concluded; once the period specified in the contract has elapsed; when the person who is substituted returns to work; when an eligible job applicant is available to take up a job intended for pregnant women or disabled persons; upon the commencement of work by the worker or employee selected, including following a competition; in the event of death of the person with whom the employee has entered into an employment contract with a view to their personality; upon the death of a worker or employee; where a position is to be occupied by a civil servant. A worker or employee may terminate an employment contract in writing without prior notice in the following cases: when they are no longer able to perform the work for which they were hired due to an illness and the employer is unable to offer them another position that matches the recommendations of the health authorities; the employer delays the payment of salaries or compensation payable under the Labour Code or under social security law; the employer alters the place or nature of work or the agreed remuneration (unless entitled to do so), or fails to comply with other stipulations set out in the collective bargaining agreement or individual employment contract or otherwise provided for by law; where a worker or employee transfers to a paid elected office or wins a competition and receives an appointment as a researcher; when recommencing studies as a full-time student or a doctoral student; when working under an employment contract with an enterprise providing temporary employment, upon signing an employment contract with an employer other than an enterprise providing temporary employment; when reinstated to a position on the basis of a court judgement declaring their dismissal unlawful; in other cases regulated under the Labour Code.

The Labour Code (LC) sets out other specific cases where a worker (employee) or an employer may terminate an employment contract without prior notice. A worker (employee) and an employer may also terminate an employment contract by giving prior notice to the relevant contractual counterpart of the intended termination. With respect to employment contracts of an indefinite duration, the notice period is generally 30 days, and with respect to fixed-term contracts, 3 months. The notice period cannot exceed the remaining term of the contract. An employer may terminate an employment contract by giving written notice to the worker or employee in the following cases: where an enterprise or a part of an enterprise is closed or some of the staff are made redundant; in the case of a drop in work volumes; where an enterprise suspends its operation for more than 15 days; where a worker or employee is unable to meet the efficiency and quality standards pertinent to their work; where a worker or employee is not sufficiently skilled or qualified for a job; where a worker or employee refuses to relocate, along with an enterprise or its subsidiary, to another town or area; where the position occupied by a worker or employee has to be vacated for the purpose of reinstating a previous incumbent of the position concerned who has been unlawfully dismissed; where a professor, an associate professor or a doctor of science reaches the age of 65; where a person becomes entitled to receive old-age pension on account of their work experience; in the event of a change in the requirements for a job, which a worker or employee no longer satisfies; where there is no objective possibility for a worker or employee to continue carrying out their job or performing the duties of their office.

Employers are not obliged to give prior notice in cases of dismissal on disciplinary grounds. A worker or employee may be dismissed on disciplinary grounds where: they have reported for work late or left early on three occasions within 1 calendar month and by a margin of at least 1 hour; they have been absent from work in the course of 2 consecutive working days; they have systematically breached work discipline, etc. under Article 190 of the Labour Code.

The Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Codes and Laws’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy sets out more detailed information about employment relations.

In 2021, women become eligible for retirement upon reaching the age of 61 years and 8 months, having completed at least 36 years in employment. Men become eligible at the age of 64 years and 4 months, having completed 39 years in employment. Persons not entitled to a pension under the conditions above become eligible for retirement at the age of 66 years and 8 months, having completed at least 15 years of insured employment.

In addition to the pensions payable to persons who satisfy the requirements for age and length of service, the Social Insurance Code envisages a number of cases where pensions are payable on different grounds such as by way of inheritance (paid to the children, surviving spouse or parents of a deceased person) and pensions for military service and disability. Further information is available on the National Social Security Institute website.

4.10 Employee representation

Workers enjoy the freedom of association to form any trade unions of their choice and the right to join and leave trade unions as they wish.

Trade unions represent and defend the interests of their members vis-à-vis government authorities and employers in matters of employment, social security and living standards. Union representatives have the right to be informed by the employer and to request meetings with the employer to inform it about issues raised by the workforce. Union representatives have the right of access to all workplaces in the enterprise and any of its subsidiaries.

Trade unions can, within the limits of law, write and adopt their own statutes and rules, and elect freely their governing bodies and representatives, organise their governance and adopt action programmes. Union representatives at enterprise level have the right to take part in the drafting of all internal rules relating to industrial relations, and the employer must invite them to do so.

In any enterprise or company, the trade union organisation can conclude a collective bargaining agreement with the employer.

To be recognised at national level, trade unions must meet certain criteria described in the Labour Code. Trade unions meeting the above requirements can apply to the Council of Ministers for such recognition, which is granted for a period of 4 years. All branches of organisations recognised as being representative at national level are also considered to be representative.

At present, the most popular national trade unions include the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) and the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour.

 
4.11 Labour disputes – strikes

Collective work disputes between employees and employers concerning matters of employment, social security and living standards are governed by the Settlement of Collective Work Disputes Act. In collective work disputes, employees are represented by their professional organisation bodies and employers are represented by the relevant managers, unless the parties have authorised other bodies or persons. Collective work disputes are settled by direct negotiations between employees and employers, or between their representatives. Such negotiations follow a procedure freely set by the parties. Employees submit their demands and the names of their representatives in the negotiations in writing. Where no agreement has been reached or a party refuses to negotiate, the matter can be resolved via mediation and/or voluntary arbitration. For this purpose, assistance can be sought from trade unions and employers’ associations and/or the National Institute for Conciliation and Arbitration. When their demands have not been satisfied, workers can declare a symbolic strike. In this case they would wear appropriate indications, bands, badges, or other similar tokens of protest and place appropriate protest signs and posters. None of these actions entail the suspension of work. Where no agreement is reached with regard to the collective work dispute or employers fail to fulfil their obligations, workers can go on strike by suspending the execution of their duties. The decision to declare a strike is taken by a simple majority of workers in the enterprise or subsidiary. The workers or their representative are obliged to notify the employer or its representative in writing, at least 7 days prior to the commencement of the strike. They must specify the duration of the strike and the body that will lead it. Workers are entitled to declare a warning strike with no prior notice. Such a strike cannot last for more than an hour. The parties involved in a strike strive to reach a final settlement of the dispute via direct negotiations, mediation or other appropriate means.

Lockout: after a strike is lawfully declared and for its entire duration, the employer may not suspend its enterprise’s operations or the operations of any part thereof said, or dismiss workers in order to: prevent or stop the strike; frustrate the process of granting strike demands. For the entire duration of a lawfully declared strike, the employer is not entitled to hire new workers, including workers sent by an undertaking providing temporary employment, to replace the ones on strike to achieve the purposes referred to in the preceding article, except in the cases explicitly set out in the [Collective Labour Dispute Settlement] Act.’

4.12 Vocational training

Vocational training in the context of lifelong learning

Vocational training in Bulgaria is carried out both within the system of

formal education and training, and through a number of forms of non-formal education and learning.

Initial and ongoing vocational training enables the acquisition of knowledge and skills in a certain profession, vocational qualifications at different levels and new qualifications. Vocational training is available from vocational schools and specialist secondary schools, vocational colleges and specialist academic institutions, licensed vocational training centres, employer and employee organisations, non-governmental organisations etc.

Vocational training for adults is available at vocational and specialist secondary schools, most of which operate licensed independent vocational training centres. The register of approved vocational training centres can be found on the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training website.

Ongoing vocational training for the acquisition of specific, key or professional competencies relating to different technological processes are available through different forms of informal training from companies and enterprises operating in the relevant areas.

The new Act on Vocational Education and Training introduced a dual training system which enables practical skills to be acquired through work experience. Under the dual system, training hours are divided between theoretical training provided at a vocational school and work at a company.

At the beginning of each year, the government adopts a National Employment Action Plan, which regulates the organisation and conduct of vocational training for the acquisition of professional qualifications at an employer’s request under the conditions and in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 63 of the Implementing Regulations of the Employment Promotion Act, as well as a training plan organised by the Bulgarian-German Vocational Training Centre State Enterprise.

Education and training have also been funded from grants received from European Union Programmes.

Since the beginning of 2007 Bulgaria has had access to financing from the European Social Fund through Operational Programme ‘Human Resources Development’. The priority areas for development aim to: encourage the economic activity of persons who are unemployed or inactive on the labour market; raise productivity and improve the adaptability of employed persons; enhance the quality and labour market relevance of education and training; and improve access to education and training. To take part in the programme, an application must be submitted to the Employment Agency.

5.  Living conditions 
5.1 Political, administrative and legal systems

The Republic of Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic, its head of state being the President. The Bulgarian political system is based on the principle of political pluralism. Government is divided into the legislative, the executive and the judicial branch.

The President is elected directly for a term of 5 years. Following consultations with parliamentary parties, the President mandates the candidate for Prime Minister nominated by the biggest parliamentary party to form a government. The Prime Minister directs and coordinates, and is responsible for, the Government’s general policy. The Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers, which directs and conducts the country’s domestic and foreign policies in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.

Legislative powers and parliamentary scrutiny are exercised by the National Assembly elected for a term of 4 years. The judiciary is independent and exercises its powers through the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Supreme Administrative Court, appellate, district, administrative, and local courts and courts-martial. The Supreme Court of Cassation exercises supreme judicial review over the proper and uniform application of laws by all courts. The Supreme Administrative Court exercises the highest judicial review to ensure the accurate and uniform application of the law in the field of administrative justice and rules in disputes on the lawfulness of acts done by the Council of Ministers or individual Ministers. The bar is free, independent and self-governing and is called upon to assist individuals and legal entities in the defence of their rights and legitimate interests. The police service is part of the executive branch of government (the Ministry of Interior) and has regional offices throughout the country.

The Employment Agency, which reports to the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, was set up with a view to implementing the government policy of encouraging employment, protecting the labour market and providing services in the areas of professional orientation, adult learning and brokering jobs.

In each region, the government policy in the area of adult learning is implemented by district administrations and local authorities with the regional offices of the Employment Agency and of various ministries, organisations and social partners.

 
5.2 Income and taxation

According to data on the fourth quarter of 2020 published by the National Statistical Institute, the average gross income per household was BGN 3 734.97, the average monthly salary was BGN 2 106.86 per household and BGN 976.49 per person. The main source of income in Bulgaria were wages or salaries. Other sources of income included, inter alia, entrepreneurship, property, pensions, sale of property, etc. The total average monthly spending was BGN 3 627.44 per household and BGN 1 681.25 per person. Cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages have the largest share of consumer spending, followed by housing, water, electricity and fuel costs.

Remuneration is traditionally high in the IT sector as well as in outsourcing companies and leading companies in various other sectors.

The rules and requirements for the payment of income tax by natural persons are stipulated in the Act on the Income Taxation of Natural Persons. The National Revenue Agency is the competent body for all matters relating to income taxation.

Taxation rules apply to all local natural persons (persons who reside permanently in Bulgaria or reside in the territory of the country for more than 183 days within any 12-month period and whose centre of life interest is in Bulgaria) and foreign nationals.

Local natural persons are liable for the payment of tax on income received from sources in Bulgaria and abroad while foreign nationals are liable for the payment of tax on income received from sources in the Republic of Bulgaria. Any income received for work carried out in the territory of Bulgaria or for services provided in Bulgaria is subject to taxation as income received from a source in Bulgaria.

In 2008, a flat tax rate of 10 % levied on the income of natural persons was introduced, along with certain types of tax relief (for example, on the income of persons whose capacity for work is reduced by more than 50 %, for certain types of donations). The entitlement to a tax benefit arises at the time of filing an annual tax return.

The general income tax rate (tax on the income received from employment) is deductible from the monthly remuneration and paid by the employer. Where tax is payable only on the income received from employment under the terms of an employment contract, workers are not required to submit any documents to the National Revenue Agency. Where they have received income from other sources, they must file an annual tax return to the National Revenue Agency. There is no non-taxable subsistence minimum but a statutory threshold of recognised expenses applies. These are deducted for the purposes of calculating the annual taxable base.

An annual corporate tax rate of 15 % is levied on the income of sole traders and the taxable base is calculated by taking into account any tax deducted and/or paid during the tax year under the applicable tax headings.

Under the Corporate Income Tax Act, tax is levied on: the profit of local legal entities; the profit of local legal entities which are not registered as traders, including the organisations of religious denominations, and the profit from the rental of real estate and moveable property; and the profit of legal entities registered outside Bulgaria which has been generated in Bulgaria. Persons that conduct business as traders within the meaning of the Company Act, including sole traders, declare any tax due or paid on expenditure under the Corporate Income Tax Act in the annual tax return. Tax returns are accompanied by a financial report certified by an auditor.

The rate of corporate tax is 10 %.

The standard value-added tax rate in Bulgaria is 20 percent. A reduced tax rate of 9 percent is levied on hotel accommodation when it is part of organised travel and a zero tax rate is levied only on deliveries expressly stipulated by law (e.g. a delivery for processing of goods, a delivery related to the international traffic of goods, etc.).

Further information on tax policies is available on the Ministry of Finance website.

5.3 Cost of living

Some food products, beverages and cigarettes in Bulgaria are still relatively cheaper than those in other EU/EEA Member States, which is an added advantage and makes the cost of living more affordable.

The average prices of some non-food consumer goods for year 2021 are indicated below: petrol А95Н — BGN -1.93 per litre; diesel — BGN 2.26 per litre; LPG — BGN 0.99; Electricity is charged at two rates - approximately BGN 0.20 during the day and BGN 0.11 during the night per kWh (prices for energy and network services). The cost of footwear and items of clothing vary within a broad range, depending on the manufacturer, quality and the season (winter sales are fairly typical).

The cost of bread (available in various types and weights per loaf) is approximately BGN 1.50 per kg, white cheese varies between BGN 8.00 and 11.00 per kg, yellow cheese between BGN 12.00 and 18.00 per kg, milk between BGN 1.50 and 2.50 per litre, and yoghurt costs approximately BGN 2.50 per litre. This means that the most commonly used food products in Bulgaria cost less there than they do in the rest of Europe. Food stores are open daily at different times, and 24-hour shops also operate. Big chain grocery stores open around 7:30 am and some are open until 10 pm.

5.4. Accommodation

There is a lot of accommodation on offer in Bulgaria and it is easy to rent or buy. Properties may be rented fully or partially furnished, or unfurnished. It is also possible to rent a room in a property where the tenant will live alongside the property owners. Property rentals are most expensive in Sofia and some of the other larger cities such as Varna, Plovdiv and Burgas. Rental costs may be several times higher in big cities compared to small towns. A search on the websites of some major private real estate agencies for examples shows that a two-bedroom apartment can be rented as follows: Sofia — EUR 354 Varna — EUR 235 Plovdiv — EUR 270 Burgas — EUR 260. Rental contracts are usually signed between landlords and tenants. In most cases, rent is payable in cash or via bank transfer on a certain day of the month. Generally, utility bills (water, electricity and heating) are not included in the rent and are payable by the tenant on a regular basis.

For the purchase/sale of a dwelling, both purchaser and seller must provide identification documents, and the latter must also produce documents proving ownership of the property and verifying the existence or absence of encumbrances. The sale transaction is conducted before a notary and entered into the property file.

The costs of renting accommodation or purchasing a property vary within a large range depending on the area, the location within a certain area or the condition of the accommodation/property. A search on the websites of some major private real estate agencies for example shows that the average purchase price for a two-bedroom apartment (per sq. m.) are as follows: Sofia — EUR 1 264 Varna — EUR 815 Plovdiv — EUR 768 Burgas — EUR 875 Pleven — EUR 703 Veliko Tarnovo — EUR 724 Blagoevgrad — EUR 604 Vidin — EUR 327.

Accommodation is advertised by real estate agencies, local and regional printed media and on various websites.

5.5. Social security in Bulgaria

The National Social Security Institute (NSSI) is the public institution that manages the state social security in Republic of Bulgaria. NSSI administrates the compulsory social security for sickness, maternity, unemployment, accident at work and professional diseases, disability, old age and death. It is the competent institution of Bulgaria in coordination with the social security for EU and the implementation of bilateral agreements in the fields of sickness and maternity benefits, death grants, unemployment benefits and pensions for disability, old age and survivors.

You can vsisit the webpage of NSSI at https://www.nssi.bg/en/

For more details, you can refer to the article  Social security and insurance.

5.6. European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. The benefits covered include, for example, benefits provided in conjunction with chronic or existing illnesses as well as in conjunction with pregnancy and childbirth.

Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.

Important – the European Health Insurance Card:

  • is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
  • does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
  • does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.

Please note: when you move your habitual residence to another country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of habitual residence.

Source of information: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=559

Information how a European Health Insurance Card can be issued in Bulgaria can be found at the website of National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF): https://www.nhif.bg/page/227

5.7.Healthcare system

The healthcare system in Bulgaria is organised and managed by the Ministry of Health. Contributions to the healthcare system are managed by the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK). Healthcare contributions are paid by all persons working under the terms of employment contracts and self-employed persons, and are deducted from the monthly remuneration paid by employers (for persons working under employment contracts) along with other payable social security contributions. Self-employed persons pay their healthcare contributions themselves.

Insured persons are entitled to use the services of medical professionals and healthcare establishments that have a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund.

Outpatient care (excluding emergency care) services are provided by natural persons or legal entities on the basis of contracts with the National Health Insurance Fund. All insured persons choose a general practitioner (GP) whom they may consult as necessary. If the GP selected is not a specialist that has the particular competence to treat a certain condition, the patient obtains a medical referral to be examined by a specialist licensed by the National Health Insurance Fund. For every visit to a GP or to a specialist referred by a GP, the patient must pay a fee of BGN 2.90. Per day of hospitalisation, a user charge of BGN 5.80 is levied, but for not more than 10 days in any one year. Children up to 18 years of age, pregnant women, non-working family members, military staff and certain other categories of persons are exempt from these fees.

Uninsured persons pay the service fee and the full amount of the medical care received.

There are many specialised private surgeries and clinics in Bulgaria. In the case of consultations and/or treatment in such surgeries/clinics, patients pay for examination and/or treatment, regardless of whether they have medical insurance or not. Further information about health insurance and the conditions for using healthcare services in Bulgaria is available on the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Fund websites.

When in need of emergency medical care, call the national emergency number 112.

5.8.Educational system 

The education system in Bulgaria comprises primary, secondary and tertiary education. Education is mandatory from the age of 6 until the age of 16. Children aged 5 are required to attend nursery school. Children between the age of 10 months and 3 years may attend crèches and children from the age of 3 up until 5 years old may attend nursery schools (state-owned, municipal and private). The subsistence and care for children who attend state-owned or municipal nursery schools or crèches is paid from the budget of the central or local government respectively. Parents pay fees in an amount stipulated by the respective municipality. Two years before a child is admitted to school at Grade I, but not earlier than the year the child reaches the age of 5, attendance of preparatory groups set up within nursery schools or schools is mandatory.

School education comprises two levels — primary and secondary, and depending on study contents it may also be general and vocational. Primary education is sub-divided into two levels — lower primary education from Grade I up to and including Grade IV and upper primary education from Grade V up to and including Grade VIII. A certificate of completed primary education is obtained upon graduation from Grade VIII which entitles the certificate holder to continue their education. A secondary education degree is obtained upon graduation from Grade XII and successfully taken matriculation exams certified by an issued diploma which entitles its holder to continue their education. A six-point scale is used to assess the knowledge and skills of schoolchildren.

Secondary school graduates may choose to pursue higher (tertiary) education. There are both public and private higher education institutions in Bulgaria. They comprise universities, specialised higher schools and independent colleges. Admission to higher education institutions requires sitting an admission examination. The tuition fees at higher education institutions are determined by the Council of Ministers and are paid in equal instalments.

School education in Bulgaria is free of charge for all school-age children whose parents are gainfully employed on the territory of Bulgaria and are citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation.

Further information is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.

5.9 Cultural and social life

As in other European countries, Bulgaria offers a rich and diverse cultural and social life. Bulgarians enjoy spending their leisure time eating and drinking out. Many Bulgarian food products and dishes are popular internationally. Bulgarian cuisine is appreciated by many, including some of the most renowned connoisseurs and gastronomic experts. Bulgarian yoghurt and wine are particularly popular. Most traditional Bulgarian dishes have a historical link to mythology, traditional beliefs or rites, which lends them an exotic flair and an air of uniqueness.

If you live in Bulgaria, you will typically spend your leisure time reading books, going out to dance in nightclubs or attending concerts, the cinema, theatre, opera, ballet, or visiting exhibitions, travelling within the country (there are many fascinating places of interest awaiting discovery), watching sporting events or practising your favourite sport. There are many history museums, community centres, cultural centres and libraries. There are theatres in the bigger cities. Very few of them are state-owned, the majority being municipal theatres, although the number of private theatre companies is also on the increase. There are puppet theatres, opera houses, musical theatres, ballet companies, pantomime theatres, café theatres, variety theatres, nightclubs and music clubs. There is at least one stadium in each city and a number of sports facilities, tennis courts and gyms.

There are many radio stations to choose from in the country and three national TV stations and more than one hundred TV channels broadcast by cable or satellite.

Bulgaria has a rich cultural heritage. A large number of cultural monuments are protected by UNESCO — Rila Monastery, Sveshtarska Tomb, Kazanlak Tomb, Boyana Church in Sofia, the Ivanovo Rock Churches near Ruse, the historical reservation in Nesebar, the Madara reservation. The UNESCO list also includes the Central Balkan and Pirin national parks and the Srebarna biosphere reservation.

Along with diverse and breathtaking natural scenery, the country offers excellent tourist and recreational facilities situated in popular mountain and seaside resorts. Some sports, including golf, rock climbing, gliding, rowing and horse riding, have been gaining in popularity.

There is a complete ban on smoking in public places.

5.10 Private life (birth, marriage, death)

Birth

Every newborn child is issued a birth certificate which shows the personal identification number they have been assigned. Birth certificates are issued by the municipal administration in the area where the child was born, and require both parents’ identity documents.

Marriage

In Bulgaria, only civil marriages are recognised for legal purposes. Civil marriages require the mutual consent of the bride and bridegroom, which must be stated before a dedicated public official. A marriage may be entered into by any person aged 18 or older and, exceptionally, and where required for important reasons, by a person as young as 16 with the special permission of the president of the district court with jurisdiction in the locality where the underage applicant resides.

Persons who wish to marry are required to file an application with the municipality not later than 30 days before the planned date of their wedding. The necessary documents include: an identity document, a statement of no impediment to the marriage and a medical certificate. A marriage ceremony is witnessed by two persons whose role is to confirm that the bride and bridegroom have entered into marriage of their own free will.

Death

Deaths are confirmed in writing by medical doctors who issue death certificates. Where death has occurred under unknown circumstances, the police must be informed and an autopsy may be performed.

5.11 Transport

Bulgaria has a developed land, inland waterway, marine and air transport infrastructure. Marine transportation services are available along the Black Sea coast (eastern Bulgaria) with Varna and Burgas being the largest sea ports and cities along the coast and inland waterway transportation services are available along the Danube River (northern Bulgaria). The largest airport is situated in the capital Sofia. Other airports are located in Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas.

In larger cities you may choose to either drive your vehicle or use the services of taxi companies, fixed-route taxi lines or public transport. Sofia is the only city which has a developed tramway network and metro lines. When using public transport, all passengers, except for children up to the age of 7, are required to have a valid ticket, travel card or other travel document. Passengers using public transport and holding a valid travel document are allowed to carry baggage with them only where its dimensions do not exceed 60 x 40 x 40 cm. Daily travel cards or travel cards valid for longer periods are available from dedicated public transport offices and outlets situated at public transport stops. A ticket may usually be bought from the driver of the vehicle. The price of single tickets ranges between BGN 1.00 and BGN 1.60 depending on the size of the town.

In addition, one’s personal vehicle, buses and trains can also be used to travel between towns. The official timetable of passenger trains in Bulgaria is available on the Bulgarian State Railway Company (BDZ) website. Further information about intercity bus services is available on the Central Bus Station website.

There are secure car parks in almost all towns, which offer supervised parking services for a fee.

Rent-a-car services are also available in larger towns and cities. Rent-a-car desks are available in the arrivals area of Sofia Airport. Rent-a-car options may be looked up on various websites.

6.Traineeships 
6.1 Definition and eligibility 

A legal definition of traineeship appears in the Labour Code. Traineeship is the performance of work under the guidance of an employer or of a person designated thereby, called a mentor, for the purpose of mastering practical skills in an acquired profession or subject. This is a type of employment relationship between an employer and a person aged up to 29 years who has graduated from a secondary school or a higher education institution and has no work experience or professional practice in the profession acquired or the subject studied.

The contract shall be concluded for work in a position corresponding to the qualification acquired by the person concerned. The contract shall lay down the method and mode of practical skills acquisition in the course of performance of work duties and indicate the mentor's name and position, the contract term, which may not be less than 6 or more than 12 months, and any other terms and conditions relevant to the traineeship.

The Regulation on student internships in the public administration lays down the rules on unpaid internships for students at the administrative bodies of the central, provincial and local government. It is designed to enable acquisition of practical experience, knowledge and skills to complement students' theoretical instruction. The length of such traineeships is between 10 and 45 working days. Each trainee is guided by a mentor, subject to an individual plan laying down specific tasks. At the end of the traineeship, students receive a certificate and a reference describing the skills acquired.

Beyond the Labour Code definition, the term "traineeship" is used to refer to short-term, in many cases summer-time practical experience traineeships offered by private companies. In this case applicants are school or university students and may not be paid any remuneration during such traineeships for the purpose of gaining practical experience.

The Career Start programme targets young people aged up to 29 years without any professional experience in the area in which they completed their higher education and registered with Job Centres. The employers are public administrations. Young people are hired under an employment contract for a period of 12 months and receive a salary for the traineeship period.

Bulgaria has no single institution in charge of organising traineeships or gathering all traineeship offers in a single pool. 

Subsidised trainee placements are the responsibility of the relevant departments implementing such programmes (such as the Employment Agency).

A number of private companies that have traineeship and apprenticeship traditions have and fund their own traineeship programmes, information on the traineeship programmes being available on their websites.

Traineeship is a form of employment relationship between an employer and an employee, which means it is subject to the legal requirements on the conclusion, registration and performance of employment contracts.

Traineeship is open to young people who have completed secondary (vocational or specialised) or higher education and are of age up to 29 years. The contract shall be concluded for work in a position corresponding to the qualification acquired by the person concerned. A specific feature of such contracts is mentorship. A mentor is a person from the same enterprise designated by the employer who is qualified for the profession in which the traineeship is to take place or a similar profession and has at least three years of work experience or professional practice in such profession. The relations between the employer and the mentor are regulated by an additional agreement annexed to the mentor's employment contract specifying the allocation of working hours and other terms and conditions relevant to the mentorship.

During the traineeship, a salary shall be paid, which may not be lower than the established minimum social insurance thresholds for the relevant position and educational degree.

In the case of government-subsidised trainee placements, the amount of salary is defined by the relevant measure or programme.

The government supports and promotes traineeships under specific measures and programmes funded by the national budget based on the Employment Promotion Act. Programmes envisaging traineeship and subsequent employment are also implemented under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme financed by the European Structural Funds (http://ophrd.government.bg/). For example, in 2021 the Youth Employment Scheme launched in 2015 continues to be implemented. Young people aged up to 29 years who have completed secondary or higher education, have no professional experience in the subject studied and are registered with the Labour Office Directorate may enrol on traineeships with employers subject to a "traineeship contract" for a period of up to 6 months.

Unpaid traineeships for university students are organised centrally and take place mostly between 1 July and 30 September. The administration of the Council of Ministers is in charge of the general process of collecting offers from institutions and applications of youths and of ranking the applicants. An online platform has been created in which trainee vacancies are advertised and applications are submitted: www.staj.government.bg

Eligibility

Any EEA citizen meeting the conditions identified (up to 29 years of age, completed secondary or higher education, no work experience or professional practice in the profession acquired or the subject studied) may conclude a traineeship employment contract with a Bulgarian employer. In almost all cases the respective person (trainee) is expected to be fluent in Bulgarian.

There are no legal impediments for EEA youths to enrol on national traineeship programmes and measures under the Employment Promotion Act or within projects under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme. To do so, they need to be registered with the labour office covering the territory where their place of residence is and hold a certificate of current (temporary) address issued by the relevant municipality. To prove that they have acquired a certain profession or completed education in a certain subject in another country, applicants shall produce a legal Bulgarian translation of the diploma awarded to them.

Unpaid traineeships in public administration are open to Bulgarian students attending Bulgarian or foreign higher education institutions and foreign students attending Bulgarian higher education institutions. 

The traineeships advertised by individual employers under in-house programmes are subject to a different set of requirements.

Information about the national quality framework
Implementation

Bulgaria has taken steps to ensure high-quality traineeship outside formal vocational education and training.

Amendments to the Labour Code made in 2014 have introduced the requirement for traineeship employment contracts. Bulgarian law requires such contracts to be in writing and include provisions on working conditions, working hours, time off, holidays, social insurance, early termination, etc.

Traineeship contracts have some specific features: their term is between 6 and 12 months, which is considered to be a reasonable period and corresponds to nationally established practice; such a contract may be concluded only once with a specific person, and if the employer wishes to retain him/her thereafter, a regular employment contract shall be concluded; work is to be performed under the supervision and guidance of a mentor with at least three years of experience in the relevant subject, which helps ensure high quality of the traineeship.

The European Structural and Investment Funds and, in particular, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, are made use of in the 2014-2020 programming period, as well as the Youth Employment Initiative, to increase the number and quality of traineeships, also through efficient partnership relationships with all stakeholders.

The Ordinance on Student Traineeships in Public Administration took effect in July 2014. It has been designed to enable acquisition of practical experience, knowledge and skills to complement students' theoretical instruction. The length of such traineeships is between 10 and 45 working days, and no remuneration is paid to trainees. Each administration entity is responsible to provide the conditions required for the traineeship, including a workplace and the required resources, or, in case of remote traineeships, to ensure contact with the trainee at least twice a week. Each trainee gains experience under the guidance of a mentor, subject to an individual plan including specific tasks relevant to the professional field of training. At the end of the traineeship, students receive a certificate and a reference describing the skills acquired.

6.2. Contract type and remuneration – Traineeships

Traineeship employment contracts have the same effect and legal basis as regular employment contracts, i.e. all trainees employed under such a contract are to be paid a salary in accordance with the minimum social insurance thresholds; they shall pay the social insurance contributions and taxes due, and the employer shall be under the obligation to register each contract with the National Revenue Agency (NRA) within 3 days of concluding it and notify the NRA within 7 days of terminating it. Work under such a contract counts as length of service.

For traineeships in public administration, an agreement shall be signed between the university student concerned and the head of the relevant administration entity. Unpaid university student traineeships in public administration are not recognised as length of service or contributory service.

6.3 Where to find opportunities – Traineeships

Bulgaria has no single institution in charge of organising traineeships or gathering all traineeship offers in a single pool.

Information on trainee vacancies can be found, among others, at:

University career centres: -Sofia University - https://career.uni-sofia.bg/

The portal for university student traineeships in public administration where unpaid traineeships are advertised - http://staj.government.bg/

Private websites on which traineeships are advertised:

www.jobs.bgwww.jobtiger.bgwww.itjobs.bg www.rabota.bghttp://www.karieri.bg/karieren_klub/vazmozhnosti/stazhove/

Trainee vacancies are also advertised on different companies' websites.

Traineeship offers under subsidised programmes can be found at local labour offices and on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg

Information about the Youth Employment programme implemented by the Employment Agency is available here: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

Funding and support

According to Bulgarian law, trainees shall conclude an employment contract and be paid a salary.

Employers may apply for subsidies from the central budget and/or the ESF for the trainee placements they offer. Applicants can find information on trainee vacancies under subsidised measures and programmes on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg, on the website of the Human Resources Development Operational Programme www.esf.bg or in job centres.

6.4 Where to advertise opportunities – Traineeships 

Traineeship vacancies can be advertised through:

University career centres: -Sofia University - https://career.uni-sofia.bg/

Private websites on which traineeships are advertised:

www.jobs.bgwww.jobtiger.bgwww.itjobs.bgwww.rabota.bghttp://www.karieri.bg/karieren_klub/vazmozhnosti/stazhove/

Under subsidised programmes: through local labour offices and on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg

The national EURES website https://eures.bg also features a functionality for advertising and applying for job vacancies on the website.

6.5. Funding for employers - Traineeships

Employers may apply for subsidies from the central budget and/or the ESF for the trainee placements they offer. Employers can find information about subsidised measures and programmes on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg, on the website of the Human Resources Development Operational Programme www.esf.bg or in job centres.

7. Employment contracts for "on-the-job training" and for the acquisition of qualifications (Apprenticeships) 
7.1. Definition and eligibility

Legal framework

In addition to the rules governing traineeships, the Labour Code also contains provisions governing the employment contracts concluded for the purpose of on-the-job training for the purpose of acquiring a qualification.

By concluding an employment contract in respect of on-job-training the employer undertakes to train the worker or employee in a certain occupation or professional area on the job and the worker or employee to acquire the knowledge and learn the skills necessary to perform it.

Another specific type of employment contract may be concluded for the purpose of acquiring a qualification. The employer may conclude a contract with a person who is to be or has been admitted to an educational institution for the purpose of acquiring a qualification. The employer's obligations include providing subsistence and other conditions to the trainee both during and after the completion of the training and accept them as an employee in the area in which the qualification was acquired for the period agreed between the parties, which may not be longer than six years. The trainee has the obligation to complete their training to acquire the relevant qualification within the agreed time period and remain in the employment of the employer for the period stipulated in the employment contract.

Definition of apprenticeship

The legal definitions of on-the-job-training employment contracts and employment contracts concluded for the purpose of acquiring a qualification are laid down in the Labour Code.

By concluding an employment contract in respect of on-job-training the employer undertakes to train the worker or employee in a certain occupation or professional area on the job and the worker or employee to acquire the knowledge and learn the skills necessary to perform it.

Another specific type of employment contract may be concluded for the purpose of acquiring a qualification. The employer may conclude a contract with a person who is to be or has been admitted to an educational institution for the purpose of acquiring a qualification. The employer's obligations include providing subsistence and other conditions to the trainee both during and after the completion of the training and accept them as an employee in the area in which the qualification was acquired for the period agreed between the parties, which may not be longer than six years. The trainee has the obligation to complete their training to acquire the relevant qualification within the agreed time period and remain in the employment of the employer for the period stipulated in the employment contract.

The on-the-job training contract lays down the forms, location and duration of the training, the compensation the parties are liable to pay each other in case of default, and any other issues relevant to the training. The training period may not exceed 6 months, except in the case of on-the-job (dual) training arranged in accordance with the conditions and procedure laid down in the Vocational Education and Training Act. In this case, the training period depends on the respective syllabi. In the contract, the parties also specify the period for which the worker or employee undertakes to work for the employer after successful completion of the training and the employer undertakes to provide work for the trainee according to the qualification obtained. Such period may not be longer than 3 years. While in training, the worker or employee is to be paid a salary depending on the work performed, which may not be less than 90 per cent of the minimum salary established for Bulgaria.

The pupils enrolled in a dual training systems receive remuneration during the entire training period.

The outcome of the on-the-job training provided under the dedicated contract is verified by the worker or employee sitting an examination in accordance with conditions and procedure determined by the employer.

In the case of training for the purpose of obtaining a qualification, the examination is conducted in accordance with conditions and procedure laid down in the Vocational Education and Training Act.

Where the worker or employee passes the examination, they receive a certificate attesting to the knowledge and skills acquired. In the case of training for the purpose of obtaining a qualification, the outcome of the training is certified in accordance with conditions and procedure laid down in the Vocational Education and Training Act.

On-the-job training is one of the forms of employment included in the Youth Employment project implemented by the Employment Agency. Details about the project are available here: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

Eligibility

Each EEA national may conclude an employment contract for the purpose of on-the-job training with a Bulgarian employer. In most cases, the respective trainee is expected to be fluent in Bulgarian.

There are no legal impediments for EEA youths to enrol on national traineeship programmes and measures or on-the-job training under the Employment Promotion Act or within projects under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme. To do so, they need to be registered with the labour office covering the territory where their place of residence is and hold a certificate of current (temporary) address issued by the relevant municipality. To prove that they have acquired a certain profession or completed education in a certain subject in another country, applicants shall produce a legal Bulgarian translation of the diploma awarded to them.

On-the-job training is one of the forms of employment included in the Youth Employment project implemented by the Employment Agency. Details about the project and the eligibility requirements applicants must satisfy are available here:

https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

7.2. Contract type and remuneration – Apprenticeships
Employment contracts concluded in respect of on-the-job training have the same effect and legal basis as regular employment contracts, i.e. all employees hired under such a contract receive at least 90 % of the minimum salary in accordance with the minimum social insurance thresholds; they shall pay the social insurance contributions and taxes due, and the employer shall be under the obligation to register each contract with the National Revenue Agency (NRA) within 3 days of concluding it and notify the NRA within 7 days of terminating it. Work under such a contract counts as length of service.
7.3. Where to find opportunities – Apprenticeshipshired 

Bulgaria has no single institution in charge of organising traineeships or on-the-job training.

Information on trainee vacancies can be found, among others, at:

University career centres:

The portal for university student traineeships in public administration where unpaid traineeships are advertised - http://staj.government.bg/

Private job search websites on which traineeship or on-the-job training opportunities may be published:

www.jobs.bgwww.jobtiger.bgwww.itjobs.bgwww.rabota.bghttp://www.karieri.bg/karieren_klub/vazmozhnosti/stazhove/

Trainee vacancies are also advertised on different companies' websites.

Traineeship and on-the-job training offers under subsidised programmes can be found at local labour offices and on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg

On-the-job training is one of the forms of employment included in the Youth Employment project implemented by the Employment Agency. Details about the project are available here: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

Funding and support

According to national law, the workers hired for on-the-job training or acquisition of qualifications conclude employment contracts and receive remuneration.

Employers may apply for subsidies from the central budget and/or the ESF for the placements they offer. Applicants can find information about subsidised measures and programmes on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg, on the website of the Human Resources Development Operational Programme www.esf.bg or in job centres.

On-the-job training is one of the forms of employment included in the Youth Employment project implemented by the Employment Agency. Details about the project are available here: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

7.4. Where to advertise opportunities – Apprenticeships
Opportunities for on-the-job training or acquiring a qualification may be advertised via:
University career centres:

Private job search websites:

www.jobs.bgwww.jobtiger.bgwww.itjobs.bgwww.rabota.bghttp://www.karieri.bg/karieren_klub/vazmozhnosti/stazhove/

Under subsidised programmes: through local labour offices and on the Employment Agency's website www.az.government.bg

The national EURES website https://eures.bg also features a functionality for advertising and applying for job vacancies on the website.

7.5. Funding for employers – Apprenticeships

Employers may apply for subsidies from the central budget and/or the ESF for the trainee or on-the-job placements they offer. Employers can find information on subsidised measures and programmes on the Employment Agency's website – www.az.government.bg, on the website of the Human Resources Development Operational Programme – www.esf.bg, or at labour offices, and, in respect of university student practical experience traineeships, the website of the Science and Education for Smart Growth Operational Programme – www.sf.mon.bg.

On-the-job training is one of the forms of employment included in the Youth Employment project implemented by the Employment Agency. Details about the project are available here: https://www.az.government.bg/pages/ophrd-2014-2020-procedura-mladezhka-zaetost/

EURES NETWORK IN BULGARIA

The Employment Agency has been a member of the EURES network since 01.01.2007. Currently, there are 24 EURES Advisers trained at European level and many EURES assistants working in Bulgaria. The Central Office of the EA has a EURES National Coordination Office, staffed by the National Network Coordinator and EURES Consultants.
A national EURES website www.eures.bg  has been created on the website of the Employment Agency, where jobseekers and employers can register in order to look for a job / find a workforce. The site publishes the jobs sent directly to the Bulgarian advisers by advisers from other Member States, upcoming events organized by EURES in the country, news is published.
Information on EURES staff and the countries for which they are responsible can be found here: http://eures.bg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147&Itemid=720&lang=bg
Important internet addresses and phone numbers in Bulgaria
www.government.bg/  - Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria
www.ec.europa.eu/eures  - European Mobility Portal EURES
www.az.government.bg  - Employment Agency
www.eures.bg  - The Bulgarian EURES website to the website of the Employment Agency
www.mlsp.government.bg  - Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
http://www.gli.government.bg/ - Executive Agency "General Labor Inspectorate"
www.nacid.bg  - National Center for Information and Documentation
www.registryagency.bg  - National Registry Agency
www.nap.bg  - National Revenue Agency (NRA)
http://www.nipa.bg/ - The National Institute for Conciliation and Arbitration
www.mzh.government.bg  - Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
www.minfin.bg  - Ministry of Finance
www.nssi.bg  - National Social Security Institute
www.ezok.bg  - Issuance of EHIC
www.mvr.bg  - Ministry of Interior
www.mon.bg  - Ministry of Education and Science
www.mfa.bg  - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
www.nhif.bg  - National Health Insurance Fund
www.aba.government.bg  - State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad
https://www.sofia-airport.bg/ – Sofia Airport
http://razpisanie.bdz.bg/site/search.jsp  - Train schedule in Bulgaria
https://www.centralnaavtogara.bg/  - Sofia Central Bus Station - intercity bus lines
Tel. 112 - Single European emergency number

Text last edited on: 06/2021

 

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