Relevant Changes Under Healthcare Amendment Act Relating to Employers

The amendment of the Health Act has been adopted on 13 May 2020 and enforced on 14 May 2020 in order to ensure the legal continuity of some anti-epidemic measures, introduced during the emergency state, as well as to adopt completely new measures, despite the end of the emergency state in Bulgaria by the time of the abovementioned date. Due to the amendment, the Health Act provides for the Council of Ministers to declare emergency epidemic situation, in which case the Minister of Health has the powers to adopt temporary anti-epidemic measures by means of Orders. Such measures, applying to a specific region, municipality or residential area, can also be adopted by a regional health inspectorate director. These measures may include interim suspension or restriction of operation or operating mode of public use facilities and/or other facilities or services provided to citizens.

Furthermore, the Amendment Act explicitly regulates the imposition of mandatory isolation and/or hospital treatment, or quarantine on stated categories of persons.

The Amendment Act introduces changes not only to the Health Act but also to other Acts, such as the Administrative Procedure Code, State of Emergency Measures Act (SEMA), Labor Code, Social Security Code, Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act, etc.

Below are listed some relevant amendments to the existing legislation:

 

1. SEMA
  • The term for submission of documents regarding the reimbursement of employers, meeting stated requirements, for up to 3 months by the state’s budget of 60% of the social security income paid to the employees has been extended until 30 June 2020.
  • The possibility of assigning remote work or home office (if possible considering the specifics of the work performed), without consent of respective employees, shall remain available for two more months after the end of the emergency state. The same term extension applies to the imposition of use of up to 1⁄2 of employees’ paid annual leave, at the discretion of the employer.

 

2. Labor Code:
  • Unpaid leave up to 60 (sixty) days, used in 2020, shall be considered both work experience and contributory service.
  • Suspension of operations (full or in part) or suspension of work for specific employees, at the discretion of the employer, as well as assigning remote work or home office, without consent of respective employees, shall be possible not only in case of emergency state, but also during an emergency epidemic situation. It is to be noted that for the period of such suspension, the employees shall be entitled to their gross labor remunerations.
  • During declared emergency state or emergency epidemic situation, in case the work of the enterprise or a part of it is discontinued by an order of a state body, the employer shall not allow the access of workers to the workplaces for the period indicated in the order.
  • At the enterprise or a part of it, the employer may establish part-time work during the entire or a fixed period of declared emergency state or emergency epidemic situation for employees working on a full-time basis.
  • The employer’s obligation to allow the use of paid annual leave or unpaid leave when requested by stated vulnerable categories of employees shall remain valid not only in case of emergency state, but also during an emergency epidemic situation.

A new right has been introduced under the Amendment Act, namely that until 13 November 2020 the Employment Agency shall order compensations in the amount of BGN 290 per employee to the social insurance contributor for some categories of persons, subject to insurance under the Social Security Code. The criteria and requirements are to be further determined.


This article is not to be considered legal opinion or advice and legal actions are not be taken due to its content.