New Measures Concerning Business Have Been Introduced In Bulgaria With Relation To COVID-19

The extraordinary epidemic situation in Bulgaria has been extended until 31 January 2021 by means of Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 855 dated 25 November 2020. Meanwhile, by order of the Minister of Healthcare, new anti-epidemic measures were introduced in the country, which will lead to a partial "lockdown" for the period until 21 December 2020 (but may be extended afterwards). A number of activities have been suspended for this period, including the work of several business sectors. In connection with this, the government announced a new measure to support employees engaged in activities that are temporarily restricted. The activity must be limited by an act of a state body, and employees should use unpaid leave requested by themselves and permitted by the employer or be in the category of employees to whom the employer is obliged to permit the use of unpaid leave during extraordinary epidemic situation. Learn more on the topic from our short article.

I. Limitations Introduced by Means of the New Orders of the Minister of Healthcare

 1. The Obligations for Employers Remain Unchanged

By means of Order No. RD-01-675/ 25.11.2020 of the Minister of Healthcare, the measures applicable to the employers, which were in effect until now, shall continue to be into effect unchanged until 31 January 2021. We remind that the employers have the following obligations:

  • To organize anti-epidemic measures in the work premises, incl. regular ventilation and disinfection;
  • Not to allow persons with symptoms of acute respiratory diseases in the work premises;
  • To carry out instructions to the personnel regarding hand hygiene;
  • To organize the premises in such manner which ensures physical distance between persons of at least 1.5 m;
  • To provide personal protective equipment to the personnel, depending on the specifics of the work and the risk assessment at the workplace;
  • If possible, to introduce work in remote form (work from home / distant work) or to establish working hours with variable limits or shift work;
  • To allow attendance at work premises which does not exceed 50% of the total number of personnel.

 2. New Limitative Measures

By means of Order No. RD-01-677/ 25.11.2020, the Minister of Healthcare has introduced anti‑epidemic measures which in practice will lead to a partial lockdown in Bulgaria, counted as of 23:00h on 27 November 2020. Among these measures are:

  • Suspension of attendance classes in schools and universities, as well as visits to kindergartens and nurseries;
  • Suspension of attendance in group classes in language centers, educational centers and other training centers and schools;
  • Suspension of congress-conference events, seminars, competitions, trainings, team buildings, exhibitions and other public events in attendance;
  • Suspension of all cultural and entertainment events (cinemas, museums, galleries, stage events, concerts, classes in dance, creative and musical arts, etc.).An exception is allowed for theaters, with seats up to 30% of their total capacity;
  • Prohibition on organizing and conducting gatherings and celebrations of a private nature with the attendance of more than 15 people;
  • Termination of all collective and individual sports events of a training and competitive nature for persons under 18 years of age, with the exception of international sports competitions that have already started as of the date of entry into force of the order. All sports events of a training and competitive nature for persons over 18 years of age and international sports competitions for persons under 18 years of age are to be held without an audience;
  • Suspension of visits to fitness centers and gyms for group activities;
  • Suspension of visits to gambling halls and casinos;
  • Suspension of visits to all restaurants, entertainment establishments, shopping centers (representing one or more buildings in which shops, restaurants and other commercial sites are located) and shopping malls, except for grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, drugstores, opticians, pet stores, banks, insurers, payment service providers, telecommunications operators' offices and other communications service providers therein;
  • All natural persons and legal entities who own or manage commercial, administrative or other sites that provide services to citizens, and whose activity is not suspended, must ensure organization to control the number of customers in the site, not allowing more than 1 person of 3 sq. m.
  • Grocery stores organize their work, not allowing people under the age of 65 between 8.30h and 10.30h.

II. Payment of Compensations to Employees

Decree 325 dated 26 November 2020 (the Decree) was promulgated in State Gazette issue 101 dated 27.11.2020, which in its essence is a governmental measure which aims to compensate the employees who are using unpaid leave pursuant to the Labour Code (LC) for the period of effect of the restrictive measures explained hereinabove.


In order to be eligible for compensations, employees must meet the following conditions:

  • To be socially secured in economic activities for which temporary restrictions have been introduced by an act of a state body during the period of declared extraordinary epidemic situation (the codes of these economic activities are determined by an order of the Minister of Labour and Social Policies);
  • To use unpaid leave upon their request, permitted by the employer (pursuant to Art. 160, Para. 1 of the LC), or to use unpaid leave, since they are from the category of employees to whom the employer is obliged to permit such leave (pursuant to Art. 173a, Para. 2 of the LC) due to introduced temporary restrictions for carrying out activity/ activities, as per the act of the state body;
  • To be employed by employers who are local natural persons or legal entities, as well as foreign legal entities that carry out business activities in the Republic of Bulgaria;
  • To be socially secured with the same employer in the economic sector in which restrictions have been introduced, before the date of the act of the state body;
  • Not to use leave on other grounds;
  • To be employed by an employer who does meet the requirements of Commission Regulation (EU) 1407/2013 dated 18 December 2013 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid (OJ, L 35211 of 24 December 2013).

The amount of compensation will depend on the duration of the employee's working time. In case of duration of the working time of 8 hours per day, as agreed in the main employment contract concluded before the date of the act of the state body, the compensation is BGN 24 per day, but for no longer than 60 days, for the period of unpaid leave of each person socially secured under the Social Security Code. In the case of part-time work, the amount of compensation is determined in proportion to the agreed working time in the employment contract.

The amounts will be paid to the employees within 5 working days after the approval of the submitted application. Compensation will be eligible for unpaid leave used between 29 October 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Furthermore, there are obligations for employers under the Decree. In case that the employer has employees who are socially secured in an economic activity sector for which restrictions have been introduced and the employee is on unpaid leave, the employer must inform the employees about the opportunity to receive compensations under the Decree. Employees wishing to receive compensations under the Decree shall submit to the employer certain documents, and the employer, on the other hand, submits them to the Labour Office Directorate, together with other documents specified in the Decree.

Employers of employees who receive compensation under the Decree must preserve the employment of those employees for an additional period equal to the period for which the compensation was paid.

Applications will be considered within 10 working days. The Employment Agency will publish on its website information about the employers and the number of their employees who have been approved for the payment of benefits. The applying of compensations shall commence on 30 November 2020.

The execution of the Decree is assigned to the Executive Director of the Employment Agency, and the control over its implementation is provided by the Executive Agency "General Labor Inspectorate", the National Revenue Agency and the National Social Security Institute.


This material is not exhaustive, is only of general nature and does not represent a specific advice or consultation. Should any additional questions arise, please do not hesitate to contact us at tel.: 02/943 37 00, fax: 02/943 37 07, е-mail: or at: 38, Oborishte Str., Sofia 1504.