Fixed-term Employment Agreement For Substitution in Bulgaria

When it comes to fixed-term employment agreements Bulgarian labour legislation is traditionally highly restrictive. Usually a fixed-term employment agreement in Bulgaria is defined as an employment agreement with a short duration aimed at satisfying an employer’s temporary and exceptional need of manpower. Due to the narrow interpretation of the cases when such arrangements are deemed permissible and appropriate, the Bulgarian labour law has established three basic types of fixed-term employment contracts, which are most common in business practice:

  • employment agreement for a definite period of time not exceeding three years, concluded for temporary, seasonal or short-term activities in Bulgaria;
  • employment agreement for completion of a specific job;
  • employment agreement for substitution of an absent employee;

Undoubtedly, one of the most commonly used grounds for conclusion of a fixed-term employment contract in Bulgaria is the replacement of an employee absent from work. For example, this may be the case when an employee is on a prolonged sick leave or on a maternity leave.

In those cases the law provides the employer with the right, on their own discretion and taking into consideration the nature of the work, to decide whether the position of the absent employee should be temporarily occupied by another person for the period of absence of the employee. This person may be another employee or a third person who has the necessary skills and qualification to occupy the respective position. In case of an internal substitution the employer and the substituting employee must agree on whether the employee would continue to carry out his current work along with the work of the absent colleague and on the remuneration for the period of the substitution, especially in case the position of the absent employee is better paid or if the employee would do both his own job and that of the absent employee.

The temporary substitution employment agreement should meet all Bulgarian legal requirements for a regular employment agreement (i.e. it should contain the minimal statutory legal contents of an employment agreement). In addition, a temporary substitution employment agreement should always contain information that the position is temporarily occupied for the replacement of a permanent employee who is temporarily absent from work, the names of the absent employee and the reason for his/her absence. As any other employment agreement, the temporary employment agreement should also be notified to the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency (NRA) within 3 days following its signature and a copy of the notification should be handed to the employee.

It is necessary to note that a temporary employee has the same rights and obligations as a permanent employee and the law requires that s/he be treated equally to the permanent employees.

The temporary substitution employment agreement is automatically terminated with the effective return of the substituted employee to work, without any need of termination notice and without any severance payments liabilities. The termination of the employment agreement must be notified to the NRA within 7 days following the date of the termination.

Notwithstanding the above, in case during the term of the temporary substitution employment agreement the agreement with the substituted employee is terminated and the temporary employee continues to perform the job without any objections from the employer for 5 or more days, the temporary substitution employment agreement will automatically transform into a permanent employment agreement for an indefinite term.


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