Bulgaria: Demand to link maternity and child benefits to minimum wages rejected

Parents have called for increases to maternity leave compensation and child benefits in 2016. The National Council for Tripartite Cooperation has rejected such calls and a proposal to bring parental benefits into line with the statutory minimum wage. 

The suggestion to increase maternity leave compensation for the second year up to BGN 420 (€214 as at 29 January 2016) and to link it to the minimum wage has not been supported (in Bulgarian) by the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC). The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy argued that the more payments are linked to the minimum wage, the more difficult it becomes to increase it, creating a number of distortions in the labour market. The State Budget 2016 foresees that the amount of maternity leave allowance will remain unchanged.

The Confederation of Labour Podkrepa (CL Podkrepa) emphasised that the maternity leave compensation has been frozen for years and therefore supported the proposal to increase it, while the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB) suggested that compensation should not be linked to the minimum wage but rather to another parameter such as the cost of living. The Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) stated that the request for higher social spending can only happen after reforms in the respective systems are implemented. Dimitar Brankov, Vice President of the BIA, said that having parents in employment and higher household income are more important for supporting children growing up than increased social benefits. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) also refused to support the proposal, considering that employment is the important factor.

On 10 December 2015, dozens of parents and their children protested outside the National Assembly Building in Sofia demanding an increase in maternity and child benefits (in Bulgarian). The amount of maternity allowance has been frozen at BGN 340 (€173). Since January, the minimum wage increased from BGN 380 to BGN 420. Parents demanded that the amount of maternity compensation be tied to the minimum wage as it was in the past. The Deputy Prime Minister and Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin commented that the budget for 2016 cannot fulfil all the protesters' demands.

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