THE NEW EMPLOYMENT ENCOURAGMENT ACT
Employment Encouragement Act (The Act)
was promulgated in the State Gazette issue 112 of 29 December
2001 and was enforced on 1 January 2002. The Act partially
repealed Employment Protection and Encouragement Act (promulgated
in the State Gazette issue 120 of 16 December 1997 and enforced
on 1 January 1998) and thus only its provisions regulating
the voluntary unemployment insurance are still in force.
The new Act regulates the relations arising
out of protection and support of employment, professional
guidance and advising, training designated to gaining professional
qualification by both employed and unemployed persons, employment
intermediary services rendered with respect to guidance
and hiring of Bulgarians in the country and abroad and hiring
of foreigner in Republic of Bulgaria.
The Act prohibits both direct and indirect
discrimination as well as any privileges and restrictions
regarding the execution of the rights and obligations arising
out of its provisions. With that respect, the employers
are not allowed to consider the age, the sex, the health,
the nationality and the ethnical affiliation when defining
the terms and conditions related to occupation of vacancies.
The only exception is provided for the sex, the age and
the decreased working capacity when they are essential component
of the job substance.
According to the Act, the Council of Ministers
defines the employment policy of the state which financing
shall be executed on the basis of the approved applications
of the Ministry of Social Affairs in accordance with the
terms and conditions regulated by the Rules on Implementation
of the Act. For the purposes of bringing into effect of
the state policy on employment encouragement, two new bodies
are established, namely an Employment Agency set up with
the Minister of Social Affairs as a full legal successor
of the National Employment Office and a National Council
on Employment Protection as a permanently acting advisory
body for co-operation when developing the employment policy.
The new Act regulates in detail of the
persons seeking for job as well as those of the employers
and provides the latter with the opportunity to announce
the available vacancies with the local departments of the
Employment Agency together with the training needs of their
employees. With respect to the above, the Act obliges the
employers within 3 days to inform the respective local department
of the Employment Agency about the occupied positions and
the reduced ones that that have been announced as vacant,
about the unemployed persons, who refused to accept the
appropriate job offered, and about the employers' refusal
to hire unemployed persons sent by the respective local
department of the Employment Agency. The employers are entitled
to make themselves a selection among the unemployed persons
recommended by the respective local department of Employment
Agency or upon preliminary request filed with the Agency
to request from the latter the fulfillment of such selection.
The Act defines the employment intermediary
services and specifies the body and the entities entitled
to render such services, namely the Employment Agency as
well as natural persons and legal entities duly registered
under the Bulgarian legislation and licensed for carrying
out such services. The employers as well as the persons
seeking for job have the right to benefit from the employment
intermediary services while the foreign employers can be
rendered such services by the Employment Agency under a
procedure determined by the Council of Ministers.
The Act regulates the planning of programmes
and measures on employment encouragement including opening
of new job positions and encouragement of entrepreneurship.
The designing of programmes and measures for employment
of young people as well as of programmes and measure ensuring
equal opportunities on the labour market by means of social-economic
integration of risk groups of people are also regulated.
With this respect the Act provides for preferences for those
employers who hire certain categories unemployed persons
sent by the respective local department of the Employment
Agency under which for certain period of time the amounts
due for the respective remuneration together with the social
security contributions and health insurance payable on behalf
of the employer are transferred to the latter on the basis
of a contract.
The Act regulates "mass redundancy"
and defines them as redundancies undertaken by the employer
within a period of 30 days on one or more legal grounds
that do not relate to the personality of the employees,
when the number of the redundancies exceeds a certain ratio
compared with the total number of employees. The employer
is obliged to notify in writing the Employment Agency regarding
a contemplated mass redundancy not later than 30 days in
advance. The non-performance of this obligation by the employer
will lead to imposing of sanctions.
The Act makes amendments to the Foreigners Act those related
to the employment of foreigners in the country. According
to the effective legislation a foreigner can be employed
on the territory of Republic of Bulgaria or assigned there
within the scope of a service agreement only after obtaining
of work permit issued by the Employment Agency upon request
of a local employer. The work permit is issued for a period
of one year. This term can be prolonged is the grounds for
its initial issuance are still valid. Such permit is not
needed for foreigners having permanent residence in the
country or for those having equal status to whom rights
of sanctuary or a refugee status is granted.
The amended regime provides for an opportunity for foreigners
to reside on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for
the purposes of carrying out free lance activities. Such
foreigners can be granted a visa or a residence permit if
they meet the legal requirements established for entry and
stay in the country and submit to the respective embassy
and to the authorities exercising administrative control
a sample application together with a permission for carrying
out free lance activities. The free lancers permits are
granted by the Minister of Social Affairs under a procedure
defined in an Ordinance issued by the Minister Social Affairs
in coordination with the Minister of Internal Affairs and
the Minister of Finance.