As we informed you in our newsletter from 17.03.2020, the Bulgarian Parliament just adopted the Act on Measures and Actions during Declared State of Emergency. Most of the provisions of the Act become effective as of 13 March 2020.
We try our best to keep you updated on all important legislative changes that concern the business and public life in the country in the context of the introduced state of emergency, which is why we summarised them for you in the form of questions and answers (not representing legal advice).
I. ADDITIONAL LEGAL TOOLS FOR EMPLOYERS TO REGULATE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EMPLOYEES
- Can employers now introduce telework without the consent of the employees?
Yes, employers are now allowed to introduce telework without the consent of employees or the need for this to be initially agreed upon, as was the case so far.
By doing so companies may only change of the place of work, but not its nature.
- What are the options to introduce part-time work?
For part or the entire duration of the state of emergency employers are also allowed to establish part-time work regime for full-time employees.
- Are employers to unilaterally grant paid annual leave to their employees?
Yes, employers can now do so without the consent of the employees, as far as up to ½ of the employee’s paid annual leave is concerned.
- In which cases are employers required to allow paid or unpaid leave?
Employers are now obliged to allow the usage of paid or unpaid leave to the following employees’ categories:
- pregnant employees;
- mothers of children up to 12 years of age or a disabled child;
- single father of a child up to 12 years of age or a disabled child;
- underaged employees;
- employees with permanent work disability of 50% or more than 50%;
- occupational-rehabilitee employees.
- Can employers suspend work of their enterprises?
Companies may decide to suspend the operation of the entire enterprise, part of it or the work of specific employees for the whole or part of the state of emergency duration.
Should by order of a competent state authority the activity of an employer be suspended, the latter shall be obliged to prohibit the access of employees to their workplaces for the duration of the state of emergency.
In those cases, employers have the right to assign the entire paid annual leave to the employees without their consent. Despite the above, employers will still be obliged to pay the full salary of their employees.
II. STATE AID MEASURES TO SUPPORT EMPLOYERS INABLE TO PAY SALARIES
- Will the business be able to rely on government assistance to pay employees’ salaries?
Yes, in certain cases. The National Social Security Institute will assist certain employers. The criteria on which they will be selected are subject to further determination by the Council of Ministers.
- What will be the amount of aid and how long will the business be able to rely on it?
For the duration of the state of emergency, but for no more than 3 months, the state will transfer to employers 60% of the insurance income of their respective insured persons for January 2020. Employers will have to pay the rest of the salaries themselves.
If they fail to do so, employers will be obliged to return the aid received.
III. PROTECTION MEASURES FOR CIVIL AND COMMERCIAL TRADE
- Are limitation periods running?
With effect from 13 March 2020 – the date of introduction of the state of emergency in the country and until it is lifted, limitation periods for expiration or termination of rights shall not lapse.
- Shall late payment interest or penalties accrue?
Until the state of emergency is cancelled neither interest on late payment, nor penalties for delaying a monetary obligation shall accrue.
Also, creditors may not trigger acceleration during the same period and shall not be able to terminate contracts due to late payment.
- What if a statutory term or an administrative act expires during the state of emergency?
The deadlines provided for in legislative act expiring during the state of emergency shall be deemed extended by 1 month as of the date of the cancelation of the state of emergency.
Administrative acts (e.g. licenses, permits etc.) that expire during the state of emergency are deemed extended by 1 month as of the date of the cancelation of the state of emergency.
IV. COURT PROCEEDINGS AND OTHER MEASURES
- Will procedural limitation periods lapse?
During the state of emergency, procedural limitation periods in pending court, arbitration and enforcement proceedings will not lapse. In the calculation of procedural limitation periods, the period from 13 March 2020 up until the end of the state of emergency will not be counted.
- Will court hearings take place?
No, there will be no court hearings and no new cases will be opened during the state of emergency duration, pursuant to the measures taken by the Supreme Judicial Council. Access to court buildings by citizens, lawyers, judges and officials is forbidden. Subpoenas are not to be served.
- What about enforcement proceedings?
The announced procedures for public sales shall as of 24.03.2020 be stayed.
It is also prohibited to block bank accounts of physical persons, as well as to seize movable or immovable property of individuals.
Upon lifting of the state of emergency private enforcement agents will resume the respective enforcement action, without charging new fees.
All enforcement actions against legal entities, except for public sale, continue as planned.
- Will notaries work?
Notarisations are limited to urgent ones only.
At present, it is not clear which notarisation activities shall be considered urgent.
V. TAX RELATED MEASURES
- Is there any extension of the deadlines for declaring and paying taxes due under the Corporate Income Tax Act?
Yes, the deadline for declaring and paying taxes under the Corporate Income Tax Act has been extended to 30.06.2020.
- Will there be tax discounts and for which taxes?
All persons will be able to benefit from a 5% discount on the 2020 real estate and vehicle tax, if payed for the whole year by 30.06.2020.
- What is the deadline for tax return for 2019 for physical persons?
Annual tax returns for 2019 for physical persons should be filed by 30.07.2020, and a discount will be available if a tax return is filed and the tax is paid by 31.05.2020.
- What is the deadline for submission of annual financial report?
The annual financial reports for 2019 shall be submitted by 30.09.2020, and the declarations for inactivity – by 30.06.2020.
Financial reports may also be signed with qualified electronic signature.
We know that these legislative changes are of significant importance to you and your business, so we will continue to provide you with an up-to-date legal information along with a brief analysis thereof regarding the potential implications these changes may have on you and your business.
We are ready to advise and assist you in these and other legal matters arising from the state of emergency declared. Do not hesitate to contact us.