COVID-19 and its impact on employment legal issues

Nina BotevaFounding Partner, Nina Boteva Law Office

The Law on Measures and Actions during the State of Emergency, promulgated by a decision of the National Assembly on March 13, 2020, introduced amendments to the Labor Code. They are mainly related to the possibility of work from home or performance of tasks from distance during the state of emergency, regardless of the consent of the employee. Thus, only the place of work changes, without altering the other conditions of the employment contract.

The rest of the changes to the Labor Code during the state of emergency are expressed in the ability of the employer to suspend the work of all or part of the enterprise or only of individual employees for the entire period of the state of emergency or part of it. If the employer has taken such measures, he or she shall be entitled to grant paid annual leave to the employee without his or her consent. This possibility is also given in respect to an employee who does not yet have an 8-month work experience with the employer (regardless the provision in the Bulgarian law that only persons who have worked for at least 8 months with the same employer are entitled to such leave ). The employer is also allowed to establish part-time work for employees during that period, however only if they have previously worked on a full-time basis.

Regardless of the measures taken by the employer in relation to the activity of the enterprise, it should be noted that:

– Time spent on paid or unpaid leave by an employee is recognized as work experience;

– For the period of suspension of work (for all or part of an undertaking or as regards certain employees), the employees are entitled to the full amount of their gross salary