Basic and extended paid annual leave
Pursuant to Art. 155 of the Bulgarian Labour Code, hereinafter the LC, each employee in Bulgaria is entitled to paid annual leave. After their first working day, the employee may use their paid annual leave only after they have worked for at least 8 months total. According to Art. 22 of the Ordinance on working hours, breaks and holidays, hereinafter OWHBH or the Ordinance, every employee who has at least 8 months of service is entitled to paid annual leave under Art. 155 LC and Art. 156 LC. When the 8-month working experience is acquired during the first year of the employee, they are entitled to paid annual leave for the same year in full. When part of the 8-month work experience was acquired during one calendar year, and another part during the following calendar year, the employee is entitled to paid annual leave for the first calendar year in proportion to their length of service for this year and for the second year the employee or worker is entitled to paid annual leave in full. The use of paid annual leave for the second and subsequent calendar years does not require new 8-month work experience, in these cases the amount of the paid leave for the calendar year is determined in proportion to the length of service of the employee in the company.
It is important to note Art. 155, para. 3 LC, which provides that upon termination of employment, before acquiring 8 months of service, the employee is entitled to paid annual leave calculated in accordance with Art. 224, para. 1 LC.
Extended annual leave
Some categories of employees in Bulgaria , depending on the specific nature of the work, are entitled to an extended annual leave which includes basic annual leave, whereby the minimum amount of leave shall be determined by Bulgarian Council of Ministers. In this article we will mention only some of the categories of employees, who are entitled to an extended annual leave. For example, professors, associate professors, senior assistants, assistants, senior lecturers and professors at universities are entitled to extended annual leave of 48 working days. Teachers in children's music and ballet schools recognised as educational institutions are entitled to extended annual leave of 36 working days. The right to use the extended annual leave is also enjoyed by the following categories of employees: scientists working in research institutions, science museum, scientific and artistic, scientific and library institutions, the amount is set by law and is as follows:
- assistant and senior assistant - 35 working days;
- associate professor and professor, head (Director, Chairman) of a scientific organization (Institute) - 40 working days;
- correspondence member, academic - 45 working days.
Additional annual leave
According to Art. 156, para. 1 LC, the employee is entitled to additional paid leave.
- For work performed under specific conditions and entailing certain health and life risks that cannot be eliminated, restricted or reduced, despite the measures taken - not less than 5 working days;
- For work performed under irregular working hours - not less than 5 working days; irregular working hours usually means that employees and workers are required, if necessary, to perform their job after the regular working hours; irregular working hours may be required for certain types of professions because of the special nature of the work by the employer in consultation with representatives of trade unions and representatives of employees.
The types of professions which are entitled to additional paid annual leave are determined by an ordinance of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers.
The duration of the leave which is longer than the one established under Art. 155 and Art. 156 LC may be negotiated in a collective employment agreement as well as one concluded between the parties to the employment relationship.
Remuneration received during the paid annual leave
For the duration of the paid annual leave, the employer pays the employee or worker a remuneration calculated based on the daily average gross salary for the calendar month before the use of the leave during which the employee or worker has worked for a minimum of 10 working days.
The Labour Code explicitly prohibits the compensation of paid annual leave with cash benefits unless upon termination of employment. According to Art. 41 OWHBH, the remuneration for the period of use of paid annual leave is paid at the request of the employee or worker at least three days before the start of this use, and where no request is submitted - in the order of payment of the labour remuneration. Upon death of the employee before the use of paid annual leave, compensation is paid to their heirs under Art. 224 LC proportionate to the paid annual leave to which he/she was entitled until the day of death.
Manner of use
The paid annual leave is granted to the employee once or in several parts. According to Art. 22, para. 2 OWHBH, paid annual leave is granted upon written request by the employee to the employer. The Act amending the LC (prom. SG No 54 of 17.07.2015) eliminated the obligation of employers to approve schedules for the use of paid annual leave.
Procedure for use
Based on the written request, the employer issues a written authorisation for the use of paid annual leave. The employee or worker shall use their paid annual leave by the end of the calendar year to which it relates. The employer must allow the use of paid annual leave by the employee or worker by the end of the calendar year, unless its use is postponed pursuant to Art. 176 LC. In this case the employee or worker is entitled to use at least half of its calendar year paid annual leave.
Interruption of use
In those cases where during the use of paid annual leave the employee or worker is permitted to use another type of paid or unpaid leave, the use of the paid annual leave is terminated at their request and the residue is used additionally as agreed between the employee/worker and their employer. Outside these cases, the employee/worker’s leave may be interrupted by mutual agreement of the two parties, but such agreement must be expressed in writing.
Postponement of use
The LC also provides for cases in which the use of leave may be postponed. The use of paid annual leave may be postponed for the following calendar year by the employer for important production reasons, in which case the employer may postpone the use of paid annual leave both for the individual employee or worker and for the employees and workers of the respective organisational (structural) unit. Furthermore, the law provides for two more cases in which the use of the leave may be postponed, however in those cases this is done by the worker/employee - when using another type of leave or at their request, but with the consent of the employer. This would be the case, for example, when female employees use the paid annual leave due to pregnancy and childbirth.
In the cases under Art. 176, para. 1, item 2 LC (when the leave is postponed due to using other types of leave by the employee or at their request with the consent of the employer), the employee or worker submits a written request to the employer to postpone the use of paid annual leave for the following calendar year. When the employee or worker uses another type of statutory leave, a written request to the employer to postpone the use of paid annual leave for the next calendar year is not necessary.
If the leave is postponed due to important production reasons or at the request of the employee or worker, the employer shall provide or postpone the use of the leave in writing and shall promptly notify the employee/worker.
When the leave is postponed or not used by the end of the calendar year for which it applies, the employer must ensure it is used in the following calendar year but not later than 6 months from the end of the calendar year for which it applies. Where the employer has not authorized the use of the leave in the cases and terms under par. 2, the employee or worker may define the duration of its use by notifying the employer in writing at least 14 days in advance.
Expiry of the right of use
Pursuant to Art. 176a LC, when paid annual leave or part thereof has not been used within two years from the end of the year for which it applies, regardless of the reasons, the right to use elapses.
When paid annual leave is postponed, the right of the employee to use it elapses after two years from the end of the year in which the reason for its non-use expires.
The employers keep records of the paid annual leave of their employees, which contains information for its use, interruption and postponement thereof, as well as the remuneration paid under Art. 177 LC and the benefits paid under Art. 224 LC.