Updated on 5 September 2023

If you are working in Bulgaria, you have the right to take a sick leave when you are ill or you must look after somebody who is ill. To do that, you need to give a sick notice to your employer as proof of sickness. The most common sick notice is issued for temporary unfitness for work, when you cannot work for a short period.  

First and foremost, you must have valid health insurance. Read about your health insurance rights here:  

Health insurance status of refugees 

Take account of the following information if you need to take sick leave: 

When can you take sick leave? 

You are eligible for e a sick leave if you: 

  • Have a general illness; 
  • Have an accident; 
  • Suffer from an occupational disease, caused by the type of work you are doing; 
  • Need treatment abroad; 
  • Need an urgent medical examination; 
  • Are under quarantine; 
  • Are looking after an ill/quarantined family member – your children, elderly parents, etc.  
  • Need to go through medical examinations/treatment in Bulgaria or abroad; 
  • Are pregnant or giving birth; 
  • Are looking after a child,  up to 12 years old, returned from a quarantined childcare institution or school.  

Possible reasons for being issued unpaid sick leave  

A sick leave is also issued mandatorily when you are temporarily unfit for work because: 

  • you damaged your health on purpose so as to take sick leave or get sick pay 
  • you did not follow the rules adopted by healthcare institutions 
  • you used alcohol or drugs or have performed certain actions under the influence of these substances 
  • you have been involved in hooliganism or other kinds of unacceptable behavior 
  • you did not follow the rules for workplace safety 
  • you didn’t see a doctor for medical re-examination without any valid reason 

In case you have problems with drug or alcohol usage, but you are still fit for work, during the time you are admitted to a clinic you have the right to a sick leave for the entire duration your stay.  

Important! Кеep in mind that in these cases you will not get sick leave payments and will not be compensated for the time you are unable to work. (See the section Sick pay entitlement bellow) 

Who issues the sick notice and when? 

  • Your medical doctor/dental practitioner can write a sick notice only for a sickness in their field of practice 

Your doctor/dentist can issue a sick notice for up to 14 days for 1 or more illnesses. Also, mind that sick leave can be taken for no more than 40 days intermittently within 1 calendar year. However, this period does not include quarantine days.   

  • From a Medical Advisory Committee if you need to take a sick leave for a longer period.  

In case of hospital treatment, your doctor/dentist can issue you a sick notice, but if you need time to recover at home after being discharged, your note will be issued by a Medical Advisory Committee and it might demand that you rest at home for no more than 30 days.   

You can find a list of the Medical Advisory Committees in Bulgaria on this link.  

  • Emergency doctors (for up to 3 calendar days)  
  • Workplace doctors  

The sick notice is issued on the day that your unfitness for work is established by a healthcare professional.  

A sick notice can be issued retrospectively without a medical examination first ONLY in the following exceptional cases: 

  • When your temporary unfitness for work has been declared on the day you were at work regardless of the hours worked or if that happens after your worktime.  
  • An exception can be made for up to two days in case of exacerbated chronic conditions when you have obviously been unfitted for work but for reasons beyond you, you could not have a medical examination.  
  • When you have requested a continuation of a sick notice. 
  • When you have seen a doctor and for some reason, they haven’t given you a sick notice but later on it becomes evident that you had not been fit for work at that time.  

Now that you have a sick notice what are you supposed to do? 

You must give the note to your employer or let them know about it NO later than 2 days after its issuance. 

If you have more than one employer, you need a copy of the sick notice for each and every one of them.  

If your doctor finds that you are unfit for work but you refuse to receive a sick notice, they must issue it anyway and send it to your employer. In case you wish to take paid leave for the time set out in the note, you may submit a written application to your employer. You may ask your employer if there is a standard company form for this application that you can fill in.  

Can I go back to work before my sick leave is over?  

You can go back to work before your sick leave is over if the doctor who has issued you the sick notice finds that you are well and can go back to work.  

When can you NOT take а sick leave:  

  • When you are not insured for general sickness. E.g. you work only on civil contracts or you are a self-insured person but you chose not to pay contributions to the General sickness fund.  
  • In case the healthcare professional finds that you are fit for work. 
  • When you donate blood except for the cases when you might get unfit for work due to blood donation. 
  • If you are taking care of a chronically ill person or a person with permanent disability with the exception of the event of  worsening of that person’s condition. 
  • When you get lab tests done or when you are supposed to have physical therapy, X-ray therapy or something similar. These can be done outside working hours or during work time with the permission of your employer without the need to get a sick notice. 

Sick pay entitlement 

When you are unable to work due to illness, you are entitled to sick pay. It compensates for the income you have lost while on sick leave. However, you qualify for sick pay if you have paid contributions for general sickness and maternity insurance for at least 6 months. 

The 6-month requirement does not apply to you if you are under the age of 18.  

Your employer covers the first three days of your sick pay for up to 70% of your average daily gross profit for the month in which you took a sick leave. The rest of the sick pay days are covered by the National Social Security Institute80 %.  

Why does the type of work relations matter? 

Labor contract  

If you have a labor contract with an employer, you are entitled to sick pay under the conditions described above.  

A labor contract includes specifics such as place of work, the duration of the contract, the amount of basic and extended paid annual leave as well as additional paid annual leaves and other requisites.  

Civil/Service contract 

Civil or the so-called service contracts are usually signed for a specific kind of job/service for a fixed period of time. In this case you owe a specific result and you do not have specific working hours. Therefore, you are not entitled to sick-leave and sick pay.  

Self-employed persons 

If you are self-employed, you are consequently self-insured. This means that you have to pay your own insurance. In this case you can choose to also pay contributions to the ‘Maternity ‘and ‘General illness’ funds, if you wish.  

You can do that at time you are registering as a self-employed person by submitting s declaration to the National Revenue Agency. You can download the sample declaration from this link

In the declaration you need to choose the section “*for all insured social risks excluding occupational accident and disease and unemployment”. This is how it looks in the form: