Bulgaria: Bulgaria's New People With Disabilities Act – Know Your Employer Obligations

The newly-adopted Act contains important updates to the employment regulations for disabled and permanently disabled people.

Following extensive public discussions on the need for adequate socio-economic support for people with disabilities in Bulgaria, 18 December 2018 saw the approval of the country's new Persons with Disabilities Act (PDA). The PDA has been in force since 1 January 2019, and replaces the previous Act.

Here's what employers (especially those with 50 or more employees) need to know about the Act and their new obligations. If you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch with our local experts.

The PDA's employment aim

The initial aim of the PDA is to ensure and promote full and equal rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities. When it comes to their employment status, the PDA focuses on ensuring conditions for equal access to employment in a regular, specialised and sheltered work environment, while providing adequate support for both disabled people and their employers. In setting out the following rules, the PDA aims to establish a general requirement for employers to employ disabled people in jobs that enable the use and development of their skills and knowledge. And when hiring a disabled person, employers should adapt their workplace accordingly.

Rules on substance

Disabled people  who are registered with Bulgaria's employment agency have the right to use specialised labour mediation in informing and finding employment and vocational guidance under the Employment Promotion Act.

With regard to permanently disabled people , the PDA presents a new requirement for Bulgarian employers with 50 or more employees to follow quotas for hiring permanently disabled personnel. The quotas should be considered without taking into account designated jobs for occupational rehabilitation, and are as follows:

  • employers with 50 to 99 employees: 1 permanently disabled person
  • employers with 100/100+ employees: 2% of their average number of personnel.

It's important to note that if an employer fails to meet the obligations for hiring permanently disabled staff under quotas, they are obliged to pay a monthly compensation. The compensation amounts to 30% of the minimum monthly Bulgarian salary for each unoccupied job vacancy intended for a permanently disabled person.

The obligation can be overruled only in the following circumstances.

  • There are specific factors in the work environment that preclude the recruitment of permanently disabled people.
  • There are no permanently disabled people registered and referred by the Labour Office Directorates or by recruitment intermediaries.
  • Employers are applying alternative employment measures  for permanently disabled people.

Procedural rules

The PDA provides the general framework of the reporting procedure to the employment agency, and it will be explained in more detail in the soon-to-be adopted regulation for applying the PDA. The current official draft regulation proposes a term of three months from the adoption of the regulation (expected no later than 31 March 2019) for the below procedure to be completed.

  • The employer must inform the employment agency about vacant job places as per the abovementioned quotas, as well as the necessary qualifications and professional skills for the open positions.
  • The employer must hire applicants – permanently disabled people – within three months of the above notification.
    It is important to note that the applicant should hold the necessary qualifications and professional skills for the relevant position in order to be employed (assessed through the usual recruitment methods – CVs, interviews etc.).
  • The employer must inform the employment agency that a permanently disabled person is hired under an employment contract, and therefore meets their quota requirement.

The PDA also allows employers to apply for funding under a national programme (before the Agency for People with Disabilities) in order to employ persons with disabilities for specific purposes. There is a separate procedure to follow for this, and it is yet to be finalised. However, a draft is currently available for public discussions and it is set to be adopted no later than 31 March 2019. We'll provide an update when there are developments.

Talk to us

TMF Bulgaria's experts can assist you with a further detailed analysis of the PDA and how it applies to your business. Our specialist team can also take the necessary compliance steps to ensure your employment processes are abiding by all the latest rules.

Need more information? Contact us today.

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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