April 2019 – On 2 April 2019, the rules for the implementation of Bulgaria's new Persons with Disabilities Act (the “Act”) entered into force. The rules detail the obligation of employers in Bulgaria with more than 50 employees to hire a minimum number of disabled persons1—an obligation introduced by the Act at the beginning of 2019.
What are the new requirements?
The law aims to improve access to employment for disabled persons. The new rules state that companies with more than 50 but less than 99 employees must hire at least one permanently disabled person. For companies with 100 or more employees, the quota is set at 2 per cent of the number of employees in the company.
In addition, employers must now report the number of unoccupied positions designated for disabled persons and the qualification and work experience required for each position to the respective local department of the Bulgarian Employment Agency. Employers should also notify the Employment Agency if they plan to use recruitment services to hire disabled persons to fulfil their quota obligations.
Time-frame for compliance
Employers in Bulgaria that are required to maintain the mandatory quotas now have three months, i.e., until 2 July 2019, to comply with the new legislation. Going forward, companies in Bulgaria are required to evaluate the quota applicable to them and undertake the appropriate measures to comply with the legislation by 31 March each year.
What are the sanctions?
Failure of an employer to maintain the minimum quota of permanently disabled employees can result in payment of a monthly compensatory fee, which is set at 30 per cent of the minimum national salary per each unoccupied position designated for disabled persons. Payment of this compensatory fee does not relieve the company from the obligation to hire permanently disabled persons. Failure to pay the monthly compensatory fee when it is due can result in a fine of up to BGN 5,000 (approximately EUR 2,556) for a first-time infringement and up to BGN 10,000 (approximately EUR 5,113) for reoccurring infringements.
Employers can be relieved of the obligation to maintain the respective quota: (i) if specific factors in the work environment make it impossible for disabled persons to be hired; or (ii) if no disabled persons have applied for the respective position. Both circumstances are subject to verification by the General Labour Inspectorate.
Another exemption is available for employers that apply alternative measures as stipulated by the rules on the implementation of Act. These alternative measures include the purchase by the employer of goods produced or services provided by disabled persons, either directly from the respective individual or through specialised organisations. The total monthly value of purchased goods and/or services should be no less than twice the national minimum monthly salary.
1 “Permanently disabled person” means a person with permanent physical, psychological, intellectual and/or sensory impairments that may hinder their full and effective participation in society and for whom medical experts have established their level of disability as equal to or more than 50 per cent.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.