CMS Expert Guide to employment termination law and legislation

Global comparison

1. Dismissal of employees

1.1 Reasons for dismissal

The employer must establish a real and serious reason to dismiss an employee.

It may be:

  • a personal reason, notably a fault (disciplinary ground), poor performance, disablement of the employee when the employer is unable to relocate / redeploy him to another position or make reasonable adjustments to his post; or
  • an economic reason, such as economic difficulties, technological changes or the absolute necessity of restructuring to safeguard competitiveness. The economic reason is analysed at the level of the group’s companies established in France operating in the same business sector. The redeployment obligation for economic dismissal is limited to jobs available “in French territory in the company or in other companies of the group, the organisation, activities, and operating location of which allows mobility of some or all of the personnel“;
  • the refusal to amend the employment contract following a collective performance agreement

Generally, employees in Hungary are not required to justify ordinary dismissals (“felmondás”) in case of an open-ended employment relationship. Nevertheless, they must observe prescribed notice periods.

If the employer terminates an open-ended employment relationship, as general rule, it must provide a reason for it, which has to be in connection with (i) the behaviour; (ii) skill; (iii) health status of the employee; or (iv) the operation of the employer. However, the employer is not required to give reasons for terminating a permanent employment relationship if the employee in question qualifies as a pensioner.

Certain “vulnerable” employees enjoy additional protection against dismissal (e.g. a more serious infringement to justify a dismissal, an obligation to seek another job profile for the employee in specific cases, etc.). These include women or single parents until their child reaches three years of age as well employees within the five-year period prior to the statutory age limit for a retirement pension.

The employer shall be permitted to terminate a fixed-term employment relationship by notice (i) if undergoing liquidation or bankruptcy proceedings; (ii) for reasons related to the employee’s ability; or (iii) if maintaining the employment relationship is no longer possible due to unavoidable external reasons.

Employees are required to give reasons for terminating their fixed-term employment relationship. The reason given for termination may only be of a nature that would render maintaining the employment relationship impossible or would cause unreasonable difficulties in light of his/her circumstances.

Discriminatory dismissals or dismissals due to “illegal reasons” can be challenged by employees before the relevant court.

An employment contract can be terminated at any time by an employee with notice, without having to justify the termination. In some cases (exhaustively provided in the Bulgarian Labour Code) the employee is entitled to terminate the employment contract in writing without notice.

Termination of employment contracts by an employer can only take place on the exhaustive grounds provided for in the Bulgarian Labour Code. Reasons relate to the employee (e.g. lack of efficient working performance), business (e.g. business closure, reduction of work volume), and conduct (e.g. disciplinary breaches).

1.2 Form

The stages in the individual dismissal procedure are as follows:

  • The employee is formally invited to a preliminary meeting.
  • At least five business days after the formal invitation, a preliminary meeting is held during which the employer explains the reasons for the contemplated dismissal and listens to the employee’s explanation.
  • The employee may be assisted by a third party (an employee of the company or an adviser of the employee mentioned on an official list prepared by the Prefect, depending on the existence of employee representative bodies in the company).
  • The dismissal letter must be sent to the employee at least two (or seven for a dismissal due to economic reasons) business days after the meeting (and within a month for a disciplinary dismissal).

The dismissal letter must be a registered letter whose receipt must be acknowledged by the employee, signed by either a legal representative of the firm or a person duly empowered by a legal representative, and who must belong to the company.

Applicable collective bargaining agreements can provide for a more favourable timeframe and / or procedure.

The letter must explicitly mention the grounds for dismissal. There are other mandatory provisions such as the possibility of choosing to benefit temporarily the supplementary health care scheme in force in the company, etc.

The grounds set out in the dismissal letter may be specified by the employer or at the employee’s request after the letter has been sent. If the employee does not make such a request, the letter’s lack of an adequate explanation will not in itself support a finding that the dismissal lacks real and serious cause, but will merely entitle the employee to compensation of no more than one month’s salary.

A special procedure (possible involvement of the works council, see below,
meeting and notification of the dismissal) applies in the case of a dismissal for economic reasons or when the dismissal concerns a ‘protected employee’ (e.g. members of the social and economic council, and trade union delegates notably).

A specific procedure prior to the dismissal exists for employees who have been recognised as physically incapable of performing their work by a labour doctor (redeployment obligation, possible involvement of the social and economic council, etc.).

For a dismissal based on a disciplinary reason, the employer should move rapidly as the procedure must begin within a few weeks of the employer becoming aware of the reason for dismissal and no more than two months after the discovery of the facts.

An employment relationship can be terminated only in written form.

Must be in writing, signed by the employer. Must be registered with the National Revenue Agency within seven days of signature.

1.3 Notice period

The notice period is set by the applicable collective bargaining agreement and the Labour Code, and generally lasts between one and three months. The contract may be terminated without notice in the event of gross misconduct or intentional misconduct.

The notice period is 30 calendar days, which can increase up to 90 days depending on time spent in employment. 

The parties may agree on a different duration of notice period, but not for longer than six months. 

For ‘indefinite’ term employment contracts: statutory minimum notice period of 30 days, statutory maximum of three months.

For ‘limited’ term  employment contracts: statutory minimum notice period of three months, but the notice period may not be longer than the unexpired term of the contract.

1.4 Involvement of works council

The social and economic council must be informed and consulted (with an advisory but formal vote of its members) when a mass redundancy is planned, or for the planned dismissal of a protected employee or physically disabled employee.

Only in cases of the termination of the employment relationship of works council representatives. 

No works council involvement.

If an employee is an elected employee representative, prior approval for his dismissal must be sought from the National Labour Inspection.

1.5 Involvement of a union

When a company employs more than 50 workers, trade unions may be involved in a mass redundancy procedure to negotiate an ‘employment saving plan’.

Only in cases of the termination of the employment relationship of trade union representatives. 

If an employee belongs to the management of an establishment-based union, or a national, territorial or branch union, prior approval for his dismissal must be sought from that union. This protection applies in case the employee is dismissed on certain exhaustively provided grounds and while the employee is a member of the union management, and for up to six months after he ceases to be a part of its management.

Where so provided for in the collective agreement, the employer may dismiss an employee due to downsizing of personnel or reduction in the volume of work after obtaining the advance consent of the relevant trade union body in the enterprise.

1.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

This is required when dismissing ‘protected employees’ and now the validation or homologation of the employment saving plan is also required for mass redundancy procedures.

No involvement. 

In case the employee is dismissed on certain exhaustively provided grounds the permission of the labour inspectorate should be obtained prior to dismissal for certain groups of employees: pregnant female workers; female workers in an advanced stage of in vitro treatment; mothers of children below the age of three years; occupational rehabilitees; employees suffering from diseases explicitly listed in a regulation of the Council of Ministers; employees on leave; elected workers’ representatives; elected workers’ representatives on health and safety at work matters; members of special negotiation bodies, European works councils or representative bodies of European companies or cooperatives.

Employees on maternity leave (410 days, of which 45 days before giving birth) can only be dismissed in the event of closure of the whole business. This limitation is absolute and cannot be overcome with any approval of state authorities.

1.7 Collective redundancies

Different procedures apply according to the company’s workforce and the number of employees concerned (the procedures are ‘lighter’ in small companies that dismiss fewer than ten employees).

The main principles are the same:

  • The employer has a duty to inform and consult the staff representative bodies;
  • All documentation related to the collective redundancy must be sent to the state authorities

In case of mass redundancies (more than ten employees in a company employing at least 50 employees):

  • The employer has a duty to inform and consult the social and economic council, involving at least two meetings (the social and economic council may be assisted by an accountant in some cases). Please note that, with the new law, the duration of the consultation has been regulated.
  • An ‘employment saving plan’ (a social plan providing real alternatives and social measures accompanying the redundancy, such as redeployment, redeployment leave, training, etc.) should be drafted. There are two options for drafting it: either through a collective agreement negotiated with trade unions or unilaterally by the employer (only in the absence of trade unions in the company or if no agreement is found and then only after consultation with the social and economic council).
  • This employment saving plan should then be sent to the state authorities that will either validate it (if agreed with trade unions) or homologate it (if unilaterally drafted by the employer). If the state authorities do not agree with the plan, the employer may present another draft after consulting the social and economic council.

When collective dismissals (“csoportos létszámcsökkentés”) are imminent, employers are required to notify the Hungarian Labour Authority 30 days in advance. For the sake of this notification procedure, collective dismissals are defined as employment terminations affecting:

  • at least ten workers in an establishment of 21 − 99 employees; or
  • 10% or more of the workforce at an establishment of 100 − 299 employees; or
  • at least 30 workers at an establishment of 300 or more employees.

The requirements of the notification procedure are met, if the employer informs the competent Labour Authority in writing and waits 30 days before carrying out the intended dismissals. Any failure to observe these rules will render all pertinent dismissals void.

Collective redundancies are dismissals within 30 days performed at the sole discretion of the employer, for reasons not related to the dismissed employees, of the following numbers of people:

  1. at least ten employees in establishments of more than 20 and less than 100 employees; or
  2. 10% of the employees in establishments of 100 to 300 employees; or
  3. at least 30 employees in establishments of more than 300 employees.

If at least five dismissals have taken place within a period of 30 days, every new dismissal at the sole discretion of the employer for reasons not related to the dismissed employee shall be added up to the total number of dismissals for the purposes of evaluating whether a collective redundancy has taken place or not.

Certain reporting and consultancy obligations exist for employers in the event of collective redundancies. Consultations with the union representatives and the employees shall start at least 45 days before the collective redundancies. Thirty days before the collective redundancies, employers shall notify the Employment Agency.

1.8 Summary dismissals

The term ‘summary dismissals’ has no real meaning in France. Dismissal without a notice period is only possible where there has been a serious breach, but even in that case, the form described above for dismissal procedure, including the preliminary meeting and registered letter, must still be applied. In case of dismissal without notice, the employee has no dismissal indemnity or notice period indemnity, because there is no notice period. Such dismissed employees are still entitled to unemployment insurance benefits, however. The dismissal procedure must begin within a few weeks of the employer becoming aware of the reason for dismissal and no more than two months after the discovering of the facts.

A summary dismissal (“azonnali hatályú felmondás”) does not require observance of any particular notice periods, but must be issued within 15 days from the perception of the occurrence of the cause of the summary dismissal, but no later than one year after that occurrence of cause. Summary dismissals are possible for good reasons only, as regulated by law. Disloyalty, behaviour, untrustworthiness or persistent refusal to carry out one’s contractually agreed duties are typical reasons for a summary dismissal.

Summary dismissals are effective, even if they do not meet the abovementioned requirements. However, the summary dismissal may then be challenged by the other party before the relevant court.

Dismissal without notice is possible in the event of a serious breach of duty or for reasons related to the individual (e.g. deprivation of the right to exercise the job based on a court sentence or an administrative act).

1.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

The amount of damages depends on the actual loss suffered by the employee. For dismissals notified on or after 24 September 2017, the ordonnance n° 2017-1387 provides that the damages have a preset minimum and a maximum amount depending on the employee’s length of service. The ordonnance also stipulates specific lower minimum amounts for companies that usually employ fewer than 11 employees, but the maximum remains identical.

In some circumstances, the dismissal will be void, allowing the employee to request reinstatement. (These circumstances may include collective redundancies without a social plan, dismissal after an occupational injury or in discriminatory dismissals, or dismissal of a protected employee without state authority authorisation). In such a case, the compensation cannot be less than six months’ salary.

Non-compliance by the terminating party with the prescribed or agreed periods or dates of notice qualifies as unlawful termination. In that case, the consequences of the unlawful termination, prescribed by the Hungarian Labour Code, can be enforced by the other party before the relevant court. As to the legal consequences of unfair termination, in case the employee is successful in claiming unfair termination, the employer is under an obligation to pay compensation for lost earnings. The Labour Code caps these damages at 12 months of absence pay. If the contract is terminated for personal reasons by regular notice, the employee could also claim a severance payment from the employer. Outside of this, the employee must prove any further damages (e.g. non-pecuniary damages) during the course of the litigation. The employee may claim reinstatement, but this is permitted only in cases such as discrimination or if the employer terminated the contract of an employee protected from dismissal. In case of reinstatement, the employee can claim lost wages for the period of litigation, which is not subject to the 12-month cap since the employment is treated as continuous.

If such a dismissal is challenged in court, it may be declared wrongful and repealed on these grounds, an employee may be reinstated to his previous job, and a court may award compensation (equivalent to no more than six monthly salaries for the period of unemployment resulting from the dismissal).

1.10 Severance pay

Dismissal indemnity is payable unless the dismissal is due to gross misconduct or intentional misconduct. The amount payable is mainly set by the collective bargaining agreement but must not be less than 1 / 4 of the monthly salary per year of service for the first ten years of service, plus 1 / 3 of the monthly salary for each year of service after ten years. Indemnity is also payable for unused accrued holiday entitlement and for the notice period if the employer chooses to release the employee from performing it.

An employee shall be entitled to severance pay if his/her employment relationship is terminated (i) by the employer; (ii) upon the dissolution of the employer without succession; or (iii) in case of the transfer of a business undertaking, if the transferee employer does not fall under the scope of the Hungarian Labour Code. 

Entitlement to severance pay shall only apply upon the existence of an employment relationship with the employer during the period of at least three years at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession.

The amount of severance pay increases according to the length of the employment relationship: up to a six-month absence fee (i.e. in practical terms, the base salary).

The employee shall not be entitled to receive severance pay if (i) he/she is recognised as a pensioner at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession; or (ii) he/she is dismissed for reasons in connection with his/her behaviour in relation to the employment relationship or on grounds other than health reasons.

Statutory maximum severance payment of one month’s salary for dismissals on specific grounds (e.g. closure of the establishment, partial closure of the establishment, staff cuts, etc.).

Two months’ salary for dismissal due to disability or hazard to the health of an employee, if the employee has worked for at least five years and has not received such severance pay in the last five years.

Two months’ salary for termination of the employment contract of an employee, whatever the grounds, who has reached the required retirement age and length of service.If the employee has worked for the last ten years with the same employer, the severance pay amounts to six months’ salary. Such severance payment shall be due only once.
Compensation for the non-used annual leave.

Where the employment contract is terminated against payment of compensation by mutual agreement on the initiative of the employer, the severance pay is in the amount of at least  four monthly salaries of the employee.

1.11 Non-competition clauses

A non-competition clause is only valid if provided in the work contract, and if:

  • The employer demonstrates that this clause is necessary to safeguard his interests and proportionate (e.g. the lower is the position the less the clause is justified);
  • Its scope is limited to a reasonable area, a reasonable period of time, and precise activities; and
  • The employee receives a monthly indemnity during the term of the clause (the indemnity amount is set by the work contract or collective bargaining agreement, but is generally between 20% and 50% of the employee’s monthly salary).

This clause can be waived by the employer in the letter of dismissal or according to the provision of the applicable collective bargaining agreement and / or employment contract.

The examination of the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement is key on this matter.

Non-competition clauses are only valid insofar as they last for no more than two years after the termination of employment. Also, contractual penalties are possible regarding non-compliance with non-competition clauses.

In case of a post-employment non-competition agreements, the employer shall be liable to pay adequate compensation. In determining the amount of compensation, the degree of the impediment that the agreement has on the employee’s ability to find employment elsewhere, in the light of his/her education and experience, shall be taken into consideration. The amount of such compensation, for the term of the agreement, may not be less than one-third of the base salary due for the same period.

Employees are entitled to work for other employers outside the working hours of their primary employment contract unless stipulated otherwise in the contract.

Post-contractual non-competition covenants are not regulated by statute. According to Bulgarian case law, such covenants are not considered valid.

1.12 Miscellaneous

Specific and restrictive rules and procedures apply in the case of pregnant women, women on and returning from maternity leave, young fathers, and employees recovering after a work-related accident or suffering from a work-related illness. Women on maternity leave cannot be dismissed during this period.

Since 2008, a new means of termination has been introduced, namely “by mutual agreement”. This new possibility is called ‘rupture conventionnelle’ (mutual termination of the employment contract). The termination is agreed by both employer and employee and there is no cause or reason to demonstrate.

The employee is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits and dismissal indemnity provided by law or the applicable collective bargaining agreement (or more if agreed).

A strict procedure including preliminary meetings and consideration periods should be followed (both parties have the benefit of 15 calendar days to retract, from the date on which the form is signed); a specific form must be filled in and signed by both parties.

The specific form must be sent to the state authorities for agreement. The state authorities have a 15-open day period to review the form. Within these 15 days, the state authorities can agree to the termination, disagree or stay silent (silence amounts to agreement). However, the state authorities must expressly agree for protected employees. Otherwise the termination is void.

Since September 2017 it has been possible for the employer to negotiate a collective agreement through a ‘rupture conventionnelle collective’ (mass mutual termination of the employment contract) with trade unions. Such an agreement can only implement voluntary departures and thus excludes any dismissals designed to eliminate jobs. This new method of terminating contracts is entirely excluded from the rules governing economic dismissals. The labour administration is informed as soon as negotiations to conclude such an agreement start and reviews the agreement’s contents before validating it.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2. Dismissal of managing directors

2.1 Reasons for dismissal

The company may generally revoke the appointment of the managing director without cause, unless stated otherwise in the by-laws of the company or the resolution of appointment. However, a fair reason is legally required in certain forms of companies (e. g. the civil form or commercial forms such as certain limited companies (‘SA’) or limited liability companies (‘SARL’)).

Company may revoke the appointment/terminate the service contract without cause, but in compliance with applicable notice periods and termination dates.

A company may revoke the appointment of a managing director and terminate his service contract without cause at any time. Managing directors are hired under service contracts (called management and representation contracts), and not employment contracts.

2.2 Form

A resolution taken by the shareholders or board of directors, depending on the form of the company and the internal organisation of the management. The managing director must be notified in writing of the revocation, and the change of managing director must be published in a public Corporate Register.

Valid shareholder’s resolution on revocation of appointment as managing director and on termination of the service or employment contract is required. 

Valid shareholders’ resolution on revocation of appointment as managing director. Termination of the contract must be in writing.

2.3 Notice period

There is no notice period, except where one is provided by the by-laws of the company or in the resolution of appointment of the managing director.

Revocation of appointment: possible without notice.

Termination of the service or employment contract: Hungarian law does provide statutory minimum notice periods from which the parties can deviate in the contract of employment in case of Managing Directors. 

Revocation of appointment by the company: possible without notice.

A managing director can request that the company release him from office. If the company fails to do so within one month (for limited liability companies) or six months (for joint stock companies), the managing director is entitled to deregister himself as a managing director from the Bulgarian Commercial Register, regardless of the lack of revocation of appointment.

2.4 Involvement of works council

No.

No involvement.

Termination of the service contract: no statutory regulation of the notice period; depends on the agreement between the parties.

2.5 Involvement of a union

Not applicable.

No involvement.

Not applicable.

2.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

No.

Not required.

Not applicable.

2.7 Collective redundancies

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2.8 Summary dismissals

Not applicable.

A summary dismissal (azonnali hatályú felmondás) does not require observance of any particular notice periods, but must be issued within fifteen days from the perception of the occurrence of the cause of the summary dismissal, but no later than one year after that occurrence of cause. Summary dismissals are possible for good reasons only, as regulated by law. Disloyalty, behaviour, untrustworthiness or persistent refusal to carry out one’s contractually agreed duties are typical reasons for a summary dismissal.

Summary dismissals are effective, even if they do not meet the abovementioned requirements. However, the other party may challenge the summary dismissal before the relevant court. 

Not applicable.

2.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

Damages may mainly be claimed:

  • for lack of fair reason in companies where such a reason is legally required to revoke a representative; or
  • if the revocation is notified under hurtful circumstances (e.g. is very sudden and unexpected, or is publicly announced before the director is informed), or if the managing director has not been granted a reasonable opportunity to make his point before the decision to revoke him is made (absence of due process).

If there is no valid shareholder resolution, the revocation of appointment as managing director will be invalid.

It is possible for the revocation to be valid, but for the termination of the service or employment contract to be invalid. If this is the case, the managing director is entitled to continued payment of salary and adequate employment.

Not applicable.

The revocation of an appointment as managing director is invalid without a valid shareholder resolution.

2.10 Severance pay

There is no mandatory severance pay for the capacity as director, unless stated otherwise in the by-laws of the company or in the resolution of appointment of the managing director.

An employee shall be entitled to severance pay if his/her employment relationship is terminated (i) by the employer; (ii) upon the dissolution of the employer without succession; or (iii) in case of a transfer of the business undertaking, if the transferee employer does not fall under the scope of the Hungarian Labour Code.  

Entitlement to severance pay shall only apply upon the existence of an employment relationship with the employer during a period of at least three years at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession. 

The amount of severance pay increases according to the length of the employment relationship up to a six-month absence fee (i.e. in practical terms, the base salary). 

The employee shall not be entitled to receive severance pay if (i) he/she is recognised as a pensioner at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession; or (ii) he/she is dismissed for reasons in connection with his/her behaviour in relation to the employment relationship or on grounds other than health reasons.

No statutory severance pay. Severance pay is subject to negotiation.

2.11 Non-competition clauses

The terms of any non-competition clause must be agreed between the parties. If the scope of the clause is too wide (according to its geographic area, its length, or the activities it concerns), its validity may be challenged.

Non-competition clauses are only valid insofar as they last for no more than two year after the termination of employment. Also, contractual penalties are possible regarding non-compliance with non-competition clauses. 

In case of post-employment non-competition agreements, the employer shall be liable to pay adequate compensation. In determining the amount of compensation, the degree of the impediment that the agreement has on the employee’s ability to find employment elsewhere, in the light of his/her education and experience, shall be taken into consideration. The amount of such compensation, for the term of the agreement, may not be less than one-third of the base salary due for the same period.

Unless explicitly waived by the company, non-competition restrictions apply to managing directors for the period of their mandate.

Post-contractual non-competition clauses are not explicitly regulated by statute. Such covenants may be agreed upon in a service contract but their enforceability may be arguable.

2.12 Miscellaneous

The director may also be an employee. In this case, a proper dismissal process will have to be implemented in addition to the revocation process and corresponding dismissal indemnities paid.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.