ARTICLE
19 April 2024

Amendments To The Bulgarian Labour Code

K
Kinstellar

Contributor

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As workplaces evolve and remote work remains prevalent, amendments to the Bulgarian Labour Code have been recently adopted to reshape the regulations...
Bulgaria Employment and HR
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Strengthening the home-office regime and enhancing remote workplace safety

As workplaces evolve and remote work remains prevalent, amendments to the Bulgarian Labour Code have been recently adopted to reshape the regulations governing home-office arrangements and remote workplace safety standards. The amendments further address the impact of digitalisation and new technologies on work and aim to improve the work-life balance of employees.

Mandatory specification of remote workplace

An important change is the explicit requirement to define the exact address of the remote workplace. This is already the case in practice, also in line with the authorities' guidelines. Better clarity in the law will further help to ensure compliance with labour regulations and provide adequate protection of the parties to the employment agreement. The parties have the flexibility to agree on more than one remote workplace. Employees can also temporarily change their remote workplace for up to 30 working days per year.

Advanced workplace safety measures

Some workplace health and safety obligations are now imposed on employees who work remotely. They must provide written information about the characteristics of their remote place of work (in response to the minimum health and safety requirements shared by the employer) and report any labour accidents promptly. This may allow for the limitation of the employers' liability in case of work-related accidents, where remote employees have acted with gross negligence or failed to adhere to the prescribed health and safety requirements.

Use of information systems and algorithmic management systems

The Bulgarian Labour Code now regulates the use of automated systems for the reporting of working time for remote workers. Upon request, employers are required to provide employees with access to their own time and attendance data. The law also aims to regulate the use of algorithmic systems for remote work management. Additional information rights are given to employees when such systems are used by the employer. Further, the employer must ensure that the decisions of the algorithmic management system are checked and where applicable, confirmed by humans.

Right to disconnect

All employees are now specifically authorised by law to not respond to messages and calls initiated by their employers outside working hours. Exceptions to this rule can be agreed in the employment agreement or collective bargaining agreement. This is one of a few cases where Bulgarian legislation is ahead of the EU legal framework which is still considering whether the right to disconnect will become community law.

Joint liability between main contractors and subcontractors

When the employer is a direct subcontractor in the context of a service agreement, the main contractor is jointly liable with the employer-subcontractor for the payment of remuneration to employees. The contractor's liability is limited to the rights of employees related to the service agreement between the main contractor and the employer. Main contractors are also not liable when they have performed their obligations in good faith under the contract with the employer.

Conclusion

The changes to the Bulgarian Labour Code demonstrate a deliberate attempt to adjust regulations to the demands of contemporary work environments and to the challenges of remote work. Employers should prepare to navigate these changes by aligning their practices and documentation with the evolving legal landscape, thereby ensuring compliance and focusing on the well-being of their remote working employees.

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.

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