Bulgaria: Training and development

Summary

  • Employers must provide the conditions for employees to maintain and upgrade their vocational qualifications, and employees are required to participate in relevant training organised or financed by their employer. (See General)
  • There are several types of contract whereby individuals obtain various forms of initial vocational training while employed and/or supported by an employer. (See Initial training contracts)
  • An employer and employee may sign a training contract providing for the employee to upgrade his or her current vocational qualifications, or retrain by acquiring qualifications in another field. (See Further training and retraining contracts)

General

Employers have a general obligation to provide the conditions for employees to maintain and upgrade their vocational qualifications, thereby enabling them to perform their work duties efficiently, in accordance with the requirements of their work and with a view to their future professional development. Employees are required to participate in training organised or financed by their employer with the aim of maintaining or upgrading their vocational qualifications and improving their skills, and to make all reasonable efforts to upgrade their own skills, in accordance with the requirements of their work.

If an employee is absent from work for a prolonged period, the employer is obliged to ensure that the employee can familiarise him- or herself with changes in the work that have occurred during the absence, and attain the level of qualifications and skills needed to perform his or her work duties efficiently.

Statute provides for several types of specific training-related contracts, related to both initial vocational training (see Initial training contracts) and further vocational training and retraining (see Further training and retraining contracts).

Employers must provide all employees with health and safety training (see Bulgaria: Health and safety > Duties on employers and employees). Employers also have various training obligations in relation to employee representatives on working conditions committees and groups (see Bulgaria: Health and safety > Safety representatives) and other employee representatives (see Bulgaria: Industrial relations > Elected employee representatives).

Statute provides for various forms of paid and unpaid leave for employees who study while in employment (see Bulgaria: Employee rights > Other leave).

Initial training contracts

Bulgaria does not have a well-developed system of apprenticeships, in the sense of arrangements whereby young people obtain a recognised initial vocational qualification through a combination of work-based practical training delivered by an employer and study at a training institution, based on a specific contract with the employer and/or the training institution. Such apprenticeships are largely restricted to the crafts and artisanal sector, and specific schemes for unemployed people. However, employment legislation provides for several general types of training-related contract that have some similarities to apprenticeships.

An employer and an individual may sign a "traineeship contract", under which the employer provides the individual (the trainee) with on-the-job training on its premises, leading to a vocational qualification. The traineeship contract is a special form of employment contract. It commits the employer to provide the trainee with work-based training in a specific occupation or specialism, while the trainee undertakes to learn the necessary skills. The traineeship contract must stipulate:

  • the form, place and duration of the training, which must not exceed six months (except in cases of work-based learning (dual system of education) organised under the terms and conditions of the law on professional education, with the duration of the training determined by the respective educational institution's curriculum);
  • other matters related to the delivery of the training; and
  • the compensation due to the other party if the employer or trainee fails to observe the contract.

The training provided by an employer under a traineeship contract must lead to an officially recognised qualification, based on a theoretical and practical examination. The employer must grant the employee at least five days of paid leave to prepare for and take this examination.

During the term of a traineeship contract, the employer must pay the trainee at least 90% of the statutory national minimum wage (see Bulgaria: Pay and benefits > Minimum wage). Otherwise, the trainee is covered by employment legislation in the same way as other employees.

A traineeship contract may provide that, on successful completion of the training, the employer will employ the trainee in a job appropriate to the qualification obtained for an agreed minimum period, which must not exceed three years, and that the trainee will take up this employment for the agreed duration. An employer may sign a training contract with the same person only once.

An employer may sign an "internship contract" with an individual under the age of 29 who has completed secondary or higher education leading to a vocational qualification, but has not previously worked in a job relevant to this qualification. The internship contract is a special form of employment contract. Under such a contract, which has a permitted duration of six to 12 months, the employer provides the intern with employment corresponding to the vocational qualification, during which the intern acquires practical experience and skills under the guidance of a mentor. The internship contract must stipulate its duration, the way in which practical skills will be imparted to the intern, the identity of the mentor and the other conditions of the internship. On completion of the internship, the employer must issue the intern with a certificate stating the skills acquired during the internship.

An employer may sign an internship contract with the same person only once. An internship contract may be terminated by either party during its term with 15 days' notice. Interns are covered by employment legislation in the same way as other employees.

An employer may agree a "qualification contract" with an individual who is studying for a qualification at an education institution, or is about to do so. Under such a contract, the employer makes a commitment to:

  • provide the individual with financial and other support in relation to his or her studies; and
  • on the individual's successful completion of the studies, employ him or her in work appropriate to the qualification obtained for an agreed minimum period, which must not exceed six years.

In return, the qualification contract commits the individual undergoing education to:

  • complete the studies leading to the qualification without undue delay; and
  • on successful completion of the studies, take up employment with the employer for the agreed duration.

A qualification contract is not an employment contract, and the parties are free to negotiate its terms.

Further training and retraining contracts

An employer and an employee who are in an employment relationship may sign a training contract providing for the employee to upgrade his or her qualifications relating to his or her current occupation or specialism, or retrain by acquiring qualifications in another occupation or specialism, with financial and other support from the employer. Such a contract must stipulate:

  • the occupation or specialism in which the employee will be trained;
  • the form, place and duration of the training; and
  • the financial, social and other conditions to apply during the training.

The contract may provide that, on completion of the training, the employee will work for the employer for a specified minimum period, which must not exceed five years. The contract may also provide for the employee to be financially liable if he or she does not complete the training or fails to work for the employer for the specified period after the training.

Either party may terminate the training contract before the training is completed if the other party fails to meet its obligations under the contract within a reasonable time, or in other circumstances stipulated in the contract.

An employer may also sign a training contract of the same type with a person who is preparing to start employment with it on completion of the training.

Sources/references

The main item of legislation relevant to training and development is the Labour Code. Health and safety training is mainly governed by the Law on Health and Safety at Work.