On April 23rd, 2020 the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria held a webinar with a key speaker Ms. Denitsa Sacheva, Minister of Labor and Social Policy of the Republic of Bulgaria. The topic “Protecting the employment for a better after-COVID-19 restart of economy” focused the discussion on the eligibility, conditions and application of employers to the already introduced economic measure for employment protection. The so-called 60/40 Rule gave an opportunity for the chamber to create an online environment for open discussion between the Labor Minister and our membership.
The event was opened by Iva Todorova, Board Member and Co-chair of the HR & Education Committee. She outlined the priorities of the Chamber in some of the labor and workforce processes improvement, incl. the upgrade of the Labor Code, future of work and transformation of workforce and digital skills.
Petar T. Ivanov, CEO thanked Minister Sacheva for accepting the invitation. He pointed out that in unprecedented situation no one was prepared. “We see the pragmatic approach of the government and Ms. Sacheva. The introduced measures – both health-related and economic ones – are relevant and after quick testing in reality, should be fine-tuned for joint exit of the crisis,” he said also.
Ministers Sacheva outlined the four types of measures that the government is introducing now. The priority went and still go to the healthcare system and those that are on the front line in combat with COVID-19. To save as much as possible lives, a total of BGN 600 mln are directly allocated to fight COVID-19 and to provide remuneration to medics. Second come the social measures that aim to give relief to the most vulnerable groups with BGN 45 mln to a total 40,000 people. The third aim to provide liquidity to business.
The fourth one was the 60/40 Rule. Minister Sacheva focused on the rationale of this measure. First, it aims to support employers to keep their workers. Second, it is a real public-private partnership (because of the portion of 40% of remuneration of an employee paid by the employer). The third one is protecting the social security system, since the remuneration and the related social security are integral part of it.
“We are happy to see that this measure is working,” she said. “Up to date (April 22nd, 2020), there are 5,768 applications for 79,818 employees. For two days now, 278 enterprises are received funding for 5,595 employees. The total amount of the allocated funds so far is BGN 1,565,983.78. The next payment is due April 24th, 2020,” pointed out the minister.
Since the start of the State of Emergency there were some rapid jobless applications filing. There were days with 9,000 or 8,000 people that lost their jobs. The total number of people reached 83,334, and on the contrary 79,880 people found new jobs which gives some leverage to the labor market. The regions with high unemployment are Sofia, Plovdiv, Blagoevrad, Bourgas, Varna, Pazardzhik.
She said also, that the worst projections present that September-October could be much worse if the situation develops in certain way. Also, the Ministry of Labor together with the Ministry of Interior found out that at least 600 cases were tracked to have fake work declarations, which is evidence of grey economy. Minister Sacheva outlined that six services are digitized to meet the social distancing requirements as well as to ease the process. However, only 6% of the people are using them.
“We are seeking expert projections and forecast how economy, health situation and labor market could develop. This will give us confidence what policies and approach we should follow to exit of the crisis. I urge you – AmCham Bulgaria – to help us realize better the trends, what is going on in your respective sectors,” said the minister.
The webinar was moderated by Zlatina Kushkieva, Co-chair, AmCham HR & Education Committee.
The Q&A session provided opportunity for members to get straight answers.
The webinar was powered by Cisco Webex.
- The video recording of the webinar will be uploaded in the next couple of days
- The unaddressed questions will be sent to Minister Sacheva’s team early next week. If you have your own, send them to [email protected]
- AmCham is seeking its members’ feedback about labor market improvement.
- The amendments of the Labor Code are to be presented in early May, thus AmCham will issue position after collecting members’ proposals for improvement.
Denitsa Sacheva’s introductory Remarks (In English)
Q&A Session with members and Denitsa Sacheva (In English)
All unaddressed questions will be send to minister’s office for answering. The answers will be uploaded here.