Working hours and leaves

Updated last 26.03.2021

This section provides information regarding:

  • Working hours;
  • Types of leaves;
  • Documentation regarding the working hours and leaves kept by the employers.

I. Working hours

Working hours is the time during which the employee is obliged to work for fulfilment of his/her obligations under the individual employment relation.

What are the types of working hours?

  • Normal working hours – generally, the normal working hours are 8 hours and the normal work week is a 5 days long amounting to a total of 40 working hours per week, where the working hour are assumed to be during the day (and not during the night);
  • Extended working hours – more than 8 hours within a working day and / or more than 40 hours within a week. The employer may introduce extended working hours for “production reasons” (such as many orders, unusually big harvest, etc.). Extension of the working hours is allowed only as a temporary measure – during specific working days. Transition to extended working hours is done based on a written order by the employer for each individual case which is issued no later than 3 days before the extension. The introduced extended working hours are mandatory for the employees and they do not get higher pay for it. The extended working time is compensated through a corresponding decrease of the working hours during other working days within 4 months as of days when extended working hours were imposed.

Important to know
Important to know

Legislative requirements related to extended working hours:

  • The duration of the extended working day may not exceed 10 hours per day (48 hours per week) for employees working under normal working hours and may not exceed 8 hours per day (40 hours per week) for employees working under the conditions of a reduced working day (7 hours);
  • The number of working days during which extended working hours may be introduced may not exceed 60 during one calendar year and these 60 working days may not be utilised at once;
  • Continuous work with extended working hours may last for 20 consecutive working days at the most.

  • Reduced working hours – working hours shorter than the normal ones; it is introduced in the following cases:

– For specific working conditions related to higher physical and psychological strain (such as work underground, under water, etc.) and / or work in conditions jeopardising the life and health of the employees, which conditions cannot be eliminated despite the measures undertaken. There are 29 types of jobs and activities which require the introduction of reduced working hours, respectively 6-hour working day for the highest risk and 7-hour working day for the high risk ones. Additional information about these activities is available in the Ordinance of the types of works for which reduced working hours are set .

– For employees whose health, age, or another condition makes them more vulnerable and less physically and psychologically resilient to the pressure at work (e.g., employees with reduced working capacity certified by a medical board or pregnant women and mothers).

  • Part-time – a working week with shorter a duration than the normal and/or reduced working hours per day. It can take the following forms:

– Contractually set part-time agreed between the parties in the employment contract which may be either in the form of a part-time working day, a part-time working week or both;

– Unilaterally introduced part-time by the employer, typically in cases of “reduced workload” when used as a tool for even allocation of an unfavourable economic situation. It may be introduced by the employer for a period of time not exceeding 3 months during one calendar year under certain conditions, set out in art. 138а of the Labour Code.

What are the conditions related to the provision of night work?

Night work is executing ones’ job tasks/ activities during the night – from 22:00 to 06:00 o’clock. The number of working hours per night permitted by law is lower than the hours permitted to work during the day. Namely, employees may work for up to 35 night hours per week and up to 7 night hours during a 24 hour-day. Due to the increased level of physical and psychological strain associated with night work, night work is forbidden for the following categories of employees:

  • Employees younger than 18 years of age;
  • Pregnant women or women at an advanced in-vitro stage of treatment;
  • Mothers with children of up to 6 years of age, as well as mothers who take care of children with disabilities regardless of their age;
  • Employees with disabilities (as certified by a medical board) – unless with their consent and if the night-time work won’t have any adverse effect on the health thereof;
  • Employees who are continuing their education without break from production (unless with their consent).

Night work shall be paid higher as compared to day work. Additional information is available in the Ordinance on the working hours, breaks and leaves.

What are the requirements related to work in shifts?

When the nature of the production process requires it, the work in the company may be organised into two or more shifts. This ensures longer working hours for the production process. The shifts may be day-shifts, night-shifts or a combination of both. Combined is a shift which involves both day work and night work. The combined work shift with 4 or more hours of work at night is considered a night shift, and with less than 4 hours of work at night – a day shift. The alternation of the shifts in the company is set out in the Internal work order. Assigning work during two consecutive work shifts is forbidden by law.

For more information
For more information

Additional information on the types of working hours as well as on the development of working schedules and calculation of total working hours is available here, as well as in the Ordinance on the working hours, breaks and leaves.

II. Types of leaves

A leave is a period of time during which the employee is relieved from the obligation to carry out his / her work functions and duties. This section provides information regarding:

  • The different types of leaves;
  • The procedure to use leaves.

What are the different types of leaves?

Leaves may be paid (during which time the employee receives remuneration) and unpaid (during which time the employee does not receive remuneration).

Depending on the purpose of the leave, the most common leaves include:

  • Paid annual leaves (basic, extended or additional);
  • Study leaves;
  • Temporary disability leaves;
  • Pregnancy and birthing leave;
  • Maternity / paternity leaves;
  • Official and artistic leave;
  • Leave for training, etc.

For more information
For more information

Additional information as to the types of leaves and the way they can be used is available here.

Paid annual leaves

All paid annual leaves share certain features:

  • They are given for a calendar year;
  • They may be used single time or in parts;
  • They are defined in terms of working days;
  • By law, only minimum number of days of leave are defined;
  • An employee is entitled to paid leave after length of service of at least 4 months upon starting work for the first time.

What are the different types of paid annual leaves?

  • Basic paid annual leave – minimum of 20 working days (the workers and employees with permanent reduced workability of 50 % or more are entitled to basic paid annual leave of not less than 26 working days).
  • Extended paid annual leave – provided only for certain employee categories depending on the specific nature of the work. The minimum duration of this leave depends on the specific occupation and it is stipulated in the Ordinance on the working hours, breaks and leaves.
  • Additional paid annual leave – added to the basic paid annual leave. There are two types:

– For employees working in specific conditions and increased risks to their life and health (listed in the Ordinance setting the types of works for which additional paid annual leave is provided; it should be at least 5 working days, while more working days may be agreed to in the employment contract.

– For employees working irregular working hours. An irregular working day is a working day, which due to the specific nature of the work, may continue beyond the established regular 8-hour length. This leave is at least 5 additional working days, while more working days may be agreed to in the employment contract.

At the beginning of each year the employer shall notify each employee for the number of days of the paid annual leave, which the employee is entitled to use during the calendar year.

Study leaves

There are two types of paid study leaves:

  • Leaves for applying to and enrolment in an educational institution – at granted consent by the employer, the employee is entitled to a paid leave of 6 working days (for applying into a secondary school) or 12 working days (for applying into higher school or doctoral studies). If the employee has not obtained the consent of the employer, he/she has the right to use half of the above mentioned days as unpaid leave.
  • Leaves for training – when the employee studies in a secondary or higher education institution, and the employer has granted consent, the employee is entitled to 25 working days paid educational leave for each academic year. Furthermore, the studying employee is entitled to 30 working days paid leave for taking matriculation or state exams, or preparation for and defense of diploma paper. The law has also provided for a single-time paid leave of 6 months for obtaining educational and scientific degree “PhD” and 12 months – for scientific degree “doctor of science”.

If the employer has given his consent, the employee is entitled to a number of days unpaid leave to prepare for exams as provided for in art. 171 of the Labour Code.

The student is obliged to notify the employer at least 7 days before the time when he/she will use the leave. Study leaves are recognised as length of service.

Temporary disability leaves

  • The worker / employee is entitled to paid leave for temporary disability (as a result of disease, work accident, for sanatorium – resort treatment, for medical examinations and check-ups, for quarantine, for taking care of a sick or quarantined family member, for taking care of a healthy child, returned from children’s institution due to quarantine in the place or of the child, etc.).
  • The purpose of this leave is to allow the employee to recover his / her own health and ability to work, or to support close relatives who need assistance related to health issues. This leave has to be approved by the health authorities/ medical board.

Maternity/paternity leaves

  • Pregnancy and birth leave – it is 410 calendar days for each child, 45 of which have to be used before the delivery of the baby.. The leave is paid – the mother receives compensation from the social security fund amounting to 90% of her average daily remuneration under art. 41 of the SSC;
  • Leave used by the father – if the mother and the father are married or live in one household, the father is entitled to use 15 days of leave upon the birth of a child as of the date the baby is discharged from the hospital. The same leave can also be used upon the adoption of a child up to 5 years of age. Once the child is 6 months old, the father (adopting father), with the consent of the mother, may use the remainder of the 410 days instead of the mother. This leave may also be used by the parents of the mother or the father if certain conditions are met;
  • Paid leave to raise a child until up to 2 years of age – after the use of the pregnancy and birth / adoption leave, if the child is not enrolled in a child care institution, the employee is entitled to additional leave to raise the child until the child becomes 2-years-old. With the consent of the mother this leave may also be used by the father or one of their parents. The mother / person taking care of the child receives monetary compensation amounting to BGN 380;
  • Paid leave for two or more living children – 2 additional working days per calendar year are granted to a mother with two children up to 18 years of age, and 4 working days– to a mother with 3 or more children of up to 18 years of age. It is provided if stipulated in a collective employment contract;
  • Leave at adoption of a child of up to 5 years of age – the employee is granted 365 days from the adoption of the child, but not later than the child’s fifth birthday. With the consent of the adoptive parent and after the expiration of six months from the child’s adoption, leave could be used by the other adoptive parent (if the child is adopted by spouses) or by a parent of the adoptive parent.

For more information
For more information

Additional information related to these or other types of maternity leaves is available here.

What is the procedure to use a leave?

Requesting a leave

Requesting a leave

The employee must request the leave. Requesting the leave is done in writing, in most cases using a request form, setting out the type, length, and the starting date of the leave requested.

Allowing a leave

Allowing a leave

The leave is used after written permission by the employer – in the form of an order. The order should contain the legal grounds and the type of the leave, the length of the leave and the starting date of the leave.

Using a leave

Using a leave

  • The paid annual leave should be used by the end of the calendar year it is related to.
  • Using the paid annual leave may be deferred to the next calendar year both by the employer and by the employee, if certain conditions are met. When the leave is deferred or is not used by the end of the calendar year, the employer is obliged to ensure it is taken during the next calendar year, but not later than 6 months as of the end of the calendar year it relates to. When the employer has not allowed the use of the leave in the above mentioned period of time, the employee has the right to determine himself/herself the time when he/she would use the leave, by giving a 14-day written notice to the employer.
  • When due to emergency conditions or declared emergency epidemiological situation the work is suspended for a part of the enterprise or for individual workers, the employer shall be entitled to make the employee take her/his paid leave even without the consent of the latter.

III. Documentation regarding the working hours and leaves kept by the employers

The employer shall keep documentation for the workers’ and employees’ paid annual leave, which contains information for the use, interruption and postponement of the use, as well as for the paid remunerations and compensations. The documents, required for the leave’s permission, are kept in the worker’s or employee’s personal file.