CMS Expert Guide to employment termination law and legislation

Global comparison

1. Dismissal of employees

1.1 Reasons for dismissal

The employer may dismiss an employee with notice for statutory reasons, including the winding-up or relocation (in case that the employee does  not agree with the relocation) of the employer or a part thereof, the redundancy of the employee, inability to perform work due to health reasons, unsatisfactory performance, or disciplinary breaches. An employer may terminate an employment relationship with immediate effect if the employee is lawfully sentenced for committing an intentional crime (a crime caused not by negligence), or has committed a serious breach of work discipline.

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

Notice must be given in writing (not by e-mail or fax), and signed by the employer’s representative in order to be valid.

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 general notice period is one month. In case of dismissal where the reasons are the winding-up or relocation of the employer  or a part thereof, redundancy of the employee, or inability to perform work due to health problems, the notice period is two months if the employment has lasted  for at least one year, and three months if it has lasted for at least five years. Where the dismissal is due to reasons other than those stated above, the notice period is two months if the employment has lasted for at least one year. If the notice is given by the employee, the notice period is two months if the employment has lasted for at least one year. If the dismissal occurs during a probationary period, a written notification (not a formal notice) should be delivered to the other party normally at least three days before the intended termination date (it is not obligatory to meet such a three-day notification period).

The statutory maximum of a probationary period is three months, and a maximum of six months in the case of managing employees. The probation period, and its length thereof, are subject to agreement between the parties.

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

Dismissal of a member of the works council is invalid without the works council’s prior approval. Employee representatives are protected against dismissal for six months following the expiry of their term of office.

In cases of termination by notice and immediate termination, the employer is obliged to consult with employee representatives before dismissing the respective employee, otherwise such a dismissal is invalid. However, the employee representatives’ consent to the particular dismissal is not a precondition for its validity.

If there are no employee representatives then the obligation of the previous consultation does not apply.

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

Dismissal of a trade union member is invalid if the trade union’s prior approval has not been obtained. Trade union officers are protected against dismissal for six months following the expiry of their term of office.

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

Obligatory for disabled employees.

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

A collective redundancy occurs when the employer dismisses more than ten employees within 30 days, if the employer employs fewer than 100 but more than 20 employees. If it employs at least 100 but fewer than 300 employees, termination of at least 10% of the workforce is considered a collective redundancy. If the employer employs at least 300 employees, then termination of 30 employees is considered a collective redundancy. At least one month prior to commencement of collective redundancies, the employer must negotiate measures to avoid or limit collective redundancies, and measures designed to mitigate the unfavorable consequences of collective redundancies with employee representatives. If there are no employee representatives, the employer must negotiate directly with the employees.

The employer must provide employee representatives, or employees directly, with all the information necessary to facilitate these negotiations in writing. A transcript of the written information must also be provided to the respective Office of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family. Following the negotiations, the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family, as well as the employee representatives, or directly employees, must be provided with written information on the results of the negotiations.

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

Immediate termination of employment by the employer is possible only for a serious breach of work discipline by the employee or for a lawful conviction of the employee for an intentional crime.

The employer may immediately (with effect upon delivery to the employee) terminate the employment only within two months of learning the reason for immediate termination, but not later than one year from the occurrence of the respective reason.

The immediate termination must be done in writing and delivered to the employee, with the merits of the reason for immediate termination being specified in such a way that prevents confusion with any other reason for termination.

The employer may not immediately terminate the employment with a pregnant employee, an employee on maternity or parental leave, a lone employee taking care of a child younger than three years of age or with an employee taking care of a close person who is severely disabled. However, if there is a reason for immediate termination, the employment of the aforesaid employees (except for the employees on maternal or parental leave) may be terminated by notice for that reason.

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

Not applicable.

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

Severance pay must only be paid if the employment has been terminated  by notice of the employer or by agreement between the employer and  the employee for the reasons of winding-up or relocation of the employer or a part thereof, the redundancy of the employee, the employee’s long-term medical inability to perform work, or the inability to perform work due to accident at work, occupational disease or its threat or due to reaching the maximum exposure at work set by the public health authority.

In case that the employee is dismissed for the reasons of winding-up or relocation of the employer or a part thereof, the redundancy of the employee or the employee’s long-term medical inability to perform work, the employee is entitled to severance pay equal to the average monthly earnings of the employee if the employment lasted at least two years, two times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted between five and ten years, three times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted between ten and 20 years and four times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted at least 20 years.

If the employment is terminated by agreement for the same reasons as stated in the previous paragraph, the employee is entitled to severance pay equal to the average monthly earnings of the employee if the employment lasted less than two years, two times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted between two and five years, three times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted between five and ten years, four times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted between ten and 20 years and five times the average monthly earnings if the employment lasted at least 20 years.

In case that the employee is dismissed or the employment is terminated by agreement for the reason of the employee’s inability to perform work due to an accident at work, occupational disease or its threat or due to reaching the maximum exposure at work set by the public health authority, the employee is entitled to a severance pay of at least ten times the average monthly earning of the employee, unless the accident at work was caused by the employee’s breach of health and safety rules or took place while he / she was under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or psychotropic substances.

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

The employer may agree with the employee in the employment contract that following termination of the employment the employee will not perform a gainful activity competitive to the activity of the employer for a certain period of time, but no longer than one year. Conclusion of such non- competition clause is possible only if during the employment the employee is able to gain information or knowledge which is not commonly accessible and its use could cause substantial harm to the employer.

The employer is obliged to compensate the employee for complying with the non-competition clause by paying them at least 50 % of the employee’s average monthly earnings for each month of compliance with the obligation of the non-competition clause. The employer may only withdraw from a non-competition clause during the employment relationship.

The employee may terminate the non-competition clause if the employer fails to provide them with the above stated compensation for their compliance with the non-competition clause within 15 days of the compensation becoming due.

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

An employer cannot dismiss an employee within a protected period, i.e. within a period during which the employee is acknowledged to be temporarily incapable of work (during sick leave due to a disease or  an accident, during pregnancy, maternity or parental leave or, for a lone parent taking care of a child younger than three years of age, during extraordinary military service, whilst having been released to perform a public function, or if the employee is medically acknowledged to be temporarily unable to perform night shifts).

Not applicable.

2. Dismissal of managing directors

2.1 Reasons for dismissal

A company may dismiss its managing director (as a statutory body or a member of a statutory body of an entity, i.e. not as an employee) without cause.

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 valid shareholder resolution is required for revocation of the appointment of the managing director and for termination of any agreement setting out the terms of appointment. The managing director is to be provided with a copy of the resolution, or information regarding the dismissal.

The company has only to inform the managing director that the general meeting of shareholders has decided for the dismissal.

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

2.3 Notice period

Dismissal is possible without notice, and will be valid from the date of adoption of the shareholders’ resolution.

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 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

No involvement.

Not applicable.

2.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Not necessary.

Not applicable.

2.7 Collective redundancies

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2.8 Summary dismissals

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

If no shareholders’ resolution has been adopted then the revocation of appointment will be invalid.

Not applicable.

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

2.10 Severance pay

No statutory severance payment; severance pay is subject to negotiation.

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

2.11 Non-competition clauses

Under Slovak law, a managing director is bound by a non-competition clause during the performance of his / her function. A post-contractual non-competition clause may be considered invalid if the contractual clause refers to the time after dismissal from the function, in which case the court may find it invalid.

Such clauses are common in practice, and provide the managing director with compensation. It is less likely that a contractual party will sue the other party before the court on the basis of such a clause being invalid.

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

Not applicable.

Not applicable.