EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Extension of working time

Bulgaria
Phase: Management
Type:
  • Working time flexibility
Last modified: 03 August, 2021
Native name:

Удължаване на работното време

English name:

Extension of working time

Coverage/Eligibility

Any company that can prove the economic necessity of the extension of working time (the same applies for time averaging and overtime).

Main characteristics

According to the labour code, article 136, a working week consists of five days, and the normal duration per week is up to 40 hours.

For economic reasons, companies can extend working time by a written order, but are obliged to consult with representatives of employees under article 7, paragraph 2 of the labour code, and to inform the labour inspectorate in advance. The extension of working time cannot be more than additional two hours per day (totalling 10 hours per day), and for employees with reduced working time only one additional hour per day is allowed. The duration of a single working week cannot be more than 48 hours, and for employees with reduced working time, 40 hours (article 136a, labour code).

The employer is obliged to record extended, reduced and compensated working time in a special record book. The extension of the working time is allowed for 60 working days in one calendar year, but no more than 20 working days in a row.

In cases of working time extension, the employer is obliged to compensate the employee with a respective reduction in working time, within 4 months of the extension, for each extended working hour. In case the employer does not compensate the extension within the listed period, the employee has the right to define the time that will compensate the extension of working hours by notifying the employer in writing at least two weeks in advance. In case of termination of employment contract prior to compensation, the difference to the normal working day shall be paid as overtime.

Other working time extension arrangements

Reporting working hours
Similar to extension of working time, this provision also allows flexible working time arrangement. Usually working hours are calculated in workdays. The employer, however, may establish time averaging – weekly, monthly or for a different period, which may not exceed 6 months. The maximum work in case of time averaging may be up to 12 hours a day, with a work week not exceeding 56 hours. Time averaging is established with an order issued by the management. The latter must also issue a time schedule for the average working time for every worker. The weekly rest during this arrangement must be at least 36 hours (or 24 hours during shift swapping).

Overtime
Overtime is the work performed outside regular working hours. Generally overtime is prohibited. It is only allowed in case of several exceptions, in sectors of defence, police work, limiting and managing the effects of natural disasters, emergency repairs of electricity, water supply, transport and communications, as well as medical emergencies, emergency repairs of machines and equipment, finishing work that has started but cannot be finished within the regular working hours, for the performance of intensive seasonal work. The last two allow almost any employer to motivate the use of overtime.

Overtime may not exceed 150 hours within one calendar year. Overtime may not exceed 30 hours day work and 20 hours night work within 1 calendar month, 6 hours day work and 4 hours night work within 1 calendar week, 3 hours day work or 2 hours night work within 2 consecutive work days. All these limitations are not applicable to activities related to emergency services.

Overtime is always prohibited for minor workers, pregnant workers and workers undergoing in-vitro procedures, mothers of children up to 6 years of age, as well as mothers of children with disabilities regardless of the age (except with their written consent), workers with disabilities (except with their consent and when it is not detrimental to their health), workers continuing their studies while working (except with their consent), workers with reduced working hours (except in the cases of emergency services above).

Workers may refuse to work overtime if the rules of the labour code, another regulation or a collective labour agreement have not been observed.

Employers should keep a designated overtime register. The overtime for the current calendar year shall be reported to the labour inspectorate by 31 January of the following calendar year.

Overtime is paid with premium rates – 50% for work during a work day, 75% for work during days-off, 100% for work during official holidays, 50% for work when time averaging is applied.

Recent developments - July 2020

During the meeting of the National Tripartite Cooperation Council on 14 July 2020, there was a proposal to allow collective agreements of up to 300 overtime hours per year, instead of 150 hours, as it is now. The amendments foresee to include overtime regulation in the collective labour agreement, while currently it is included in the individual employment agreement.

Overtime regulation should allow greater flexibility by revoking the provision that overtime is prohibited or at least to expand the exceptions when overtime is allowed, to include the trade. The arguments were that in stocktaking cases the process cannot be stopped until it is completed. There is also seasonality in trade, such as during national holidays like Christmas and Easter.

According to the Minister of labour and social policy, there is public discussion of the draft bill, which will be submitted to the Council of Ministers on 22 July 2020.

The Ministry proposed also a reduction of the reporting period in case of time averaging from 6 to 4 months, while the business sector insists on 12 months.

Funding

  • No specific funding required

Involved actors

National government
Legal framework.
Employer or employee organisations
Consultation with the employee representatives.
Other
Labour inspectorate should be officially informed about the extension of working time by the employer.

Effectiveness

No information available.

Strengths

The measure allows employers to have more flexibility in distributing hours according to the workload, and reduces the requirement for seasonal or temporary workers. Employees can be provided with greater security via permanent work contracts adapted to suit employers' needs.

Employer organisation negotiating at national level claims that increasing the allowed overtime from 150 to 300 hours will be of benefit for both the employer and employees. The former will be able to plan in a better way their work processes and the employees will be able to work overtime against additional remuneration, when they need to. The business representatives admit though that this would require a good level of understanding between the employer and employees.

Weaknesses

The trade unions argued that increasing overtime per year from 150 to 300 hours would mean that a work day could in this way become 9 hours and 12 minutes per day on average and insisted on keeping the 8 hours a day working time and strict regulation of overtime. The trade unions also argued that when applying time averaging sometimes overtime remains in the end of the balancing period and in such cases employers do not always report and pay the overtime because they have exceeded the daily, weekly, monthly and annual limits of overtime. For that reason they do not pay it at a premium rate as well.

The business sector, in particular trade, argued that the current general prohibition of overtime in the labour code prevents flexibility in planning and arranging working time.

Usually, the employers use time averaging and balance the overtime in the end of the respective period, which is too short and does not allow them to have remaining overtime in the end of the period which should be paid and not compensated with days off.

According to the vice-president of Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB) the Bulgarian labour code is non-compliant with Convention No. 1 of the ILO, since it provides that a work day should not exceed 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week, while in some cases the labour code allows 56 hours a week and more than 8 hours a day.

Examples

No information available.
Sources
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