Updated 24.04.2024

If you are employed in Bulgaria, you are entitled to holidays and time off work. In this article you will find out what types of leave you are entitled to and how to request it.  Note that the list below is not exhaustive. Your employer may provide other types of leave, which will be covered in your labour contract. 

General requirements

Most types of leave require you to meet the following conditions: 

  • Submit a written request for leave to your employer - the request needs to include:
  1. what type of leave you want to take - e.g. paid/unpaid annual leave, study leave, etc;
  2. the period of your leave specified in working days;
  3. the start date of your leave.
  • If necessary, attach documents that state the reason for the leave - sick note, death certificate or other document depending on the type of leave.
  • Submit your request a certain number of days before going on leave.  This is usually stated in your labour contract. 

Paid annual leave

This is the most commonly taken leave. By law you are entitled to minimum 20 working days per year of paid leave, but it can be more depending on what type of work you do. For example, blind and deaf-blind people, workers under the age of 18, workers with a permanent disability of 50% or more, and people who work in mines, aircrew, teachers, etc. have more than 20 days of paid leave. Also, your employer can give you more days of leave than the minimum, by arranging this in your labour contract. 

If you work part-time:

  • If you work 4 or more hours a day, you are entitled to the full amount of paid annual leave;
  • If your contract is for less than 4 hours a day, the amount of paid annual leave you get will be proportionate to the time you have worked. For example, if we take the minimum 20 days paid leave - if you work 2 hours a day you will be entitled to 5 days of paid annual leave.

To take paid annual leave, you must have at least 4 months of  working experience. This means that, you must have been employed for at least  for 4 hours a day in a 5-day week for 4 months. These 4 months may have been accumulated intermittently with one or more employersThis mostly affects people who are starting working on a labour contract for the first time.

By 31 January each year, your employer must inform you how many days of paid annual leave you are entitled to during the year. This includes the days of paid annual leave for the current year, as well as unused paid leave from the last 2 years. 

You may request all or part of your paid annual leave at any time by submitting a written request for leave. Your employer has the right to refuse the requested leave for the period you have chosen only if there are important industrial reasons. When your leave was postponed or not taken by the end of the calendar year to which it relates, your employer has to give you paid leave in the following calendar year, but no later than 6 months from the end of the calendar year to which it relates. If this time limit is not respected as an employee, you have the right to determine the time when you want to take your leave by giving your employer at least 14 days of notice in writing.

If you have used all your paid annual leave for the current year and decide to change your job before the end of the calendar year, you will not be able to claim paid annual leave at your new job unless the amount of leave at that job is more than it was at your previous workplace. 

If your labour contract is terminated, you are entitled to cash compensation for your unused paid annual leave for the current year and for the last 2 years. You are entitled to this benefit even if you have 4 months of work experience, as long as you have at least 1 month.  The amount of the compensation depends on your average daily gross earnings for the last calendar month preceding the month of termination during which you have at least 10 days of work.

Unpaid annual leave

As the name indicates, the time you take this unpaid annual leave is not paid. You do not need to have a certain amount of work experience to take unpaid annual leave. You can request this leave even if you have not yet used your paid annual leave. 

To take unpaid annual leave, you must again make a written request to your employer. However, your employer can refuse.

Important! Unpaid leave of up to 30 days is recognised as length of work experience. If it exceeds 30 days, the days thereafter are not recognised as length of service. 

Pregnancy, childbirth, parental and adoption leave

The time-off you take during this type of leave is recognised as working experience and your social security insuarance is not interrupted. If you do not take or interrupt taking any of these leaves, you are due a cash compensation.

Paid leave for pregnancy and childbirth

This is maternity leave, which is 410 days in total, 45 of which you can take before giving birth. You can read more about maternity leave and the documents you need to provide to your employer here: 

Pregnant women

Paid parental leave up to 2 years of age

You can take such a leave after your maternity leave has expired, your child is under 2 years old and is not attending kindergarten or nursery. The amount of the cash compensation for this leave is BGN 780 per month.  You must have 12 months of paid social security contributions for general sickness and maternity to be entitled to this leave. 

This leave can also be transferred to the child's father or to one of the child's grandparents, who must, however, be employed and therefore insured for sickness and maternity. 

To benefit from this leave you must:

  • submit a written request  to your employer, who is obliged to allow you to take leave from the date you specify in your request. 
  • Your employer has to fill in and submit a certificate  to the relevant territorial branch of the National Social Insurance Institute. 

Paid adoption leave for children up to 5 years of age

If you adopt a child under the age of 5, you are entitled to 365 days' leave from the day of adoption. You must request this leave before the child turns 5. 

The amount of the cash benefit is 90% of your average daily gross salary.

After 6 months you can be transferred to your spouse or the child's grandparents, if they are employed, are insured for sickness and maternity and have paid at least 12 months of social security contributions.

In order to take this leave, you must submit a written application, to which you must attach:

  • a copy of a final court decision on adoption;
  • a copy of the act of surrender of the child for adoption;
  • a declaration signed by the adoptive mother or a person who has adopted a child
  • a declaration of by adoptive father to whom the adoptive mother has transferred the leave.
  • a declaration of by the adoptive parents (grandparents) to whom the leave is transferred.

When the adoption is carried out by a married couple, the adobtive father is entitled to 15 days of paid leave.

Paid leave for breastfeeding and feeding a young child

A mother who breastfeeds her child is entitled to paid leave until the child is 8 months old. This leave may be taken for 1 hour 2 times a day or 2 hours at a time during the day. If you work 7 hours or less, this leave is only 1 hour a day.

Once the child is 8 months old, you may continue to take this leave for 1 hour per day after a doctor's assessment. 

Paid parental leave for two or more children

You can only request such leave if your workplace has a collective agreement that allows it. In these cases, you are entitled to:

  • 2 days leave a year if you have two children under 18
  • 4 days leave a year if you have three or more children under 18.

The payments for this leave shall be calculated in the same way as the paid annual leave. 

Unpaid parental leave up to the age of 8

If you have taken the above leaves but your child is not in kindergarten/school, then you are entitled to unpaid leave for up to 6 months until your child is 8 years old. This leave can be transferred to the other parent who can only take up to 5 months of the 6 months, and not the full 6 months.

If you are a single parent, this leave will be 12 months if:

  • you are not married to the other parent and do not live with him or her;
  • the other parent is deprived of parental rights by a court order; or
  • the other parent has died.

In order to take this leave, you must notify your employer 10 days in advance with a written application stating that the child is not attending a full state-funded kindergarten/school. The employer must provide the leave from the day stated in the application.

Paternity leave

As the father of a newborn child, you are also entitled to 15 calendar days of leave from the day the child is discharged from hospital. For this you must submit a written request to your employer, to which you must attach:

  • a copy of your marriage certificate or a declaration by you and the mother that you have recognised the child and that you and the mother live together;
  • a document from the hospital certifying the date of discharge of the child.

The employer is obliged to authorise the leave from the day specified in the application.

Sick leave

This is a period when you are not working for health reasons. The procedure on how to take sick leave is explained in this article:

How do I get sick leave in Bulgaria?

Leave for educational purposes

You are also entitled to leave for educational puposes. These are as follows:

Paid leave for educational purposes

You are entitled to such leave if you are in secondary school or university. It is 25 days per calendar year. 

Additionally, students who are entitled to these 25 days are also entitled to take a separate leave to prepare for final or state examination, thesis/project or dissertation, amounting to 30 days per year. 

While you are on leave, your employer continues to pay you the salary agreed for the specific job. Taking this leave is not bounded by any other type of leave (for example, paid annual leave).

Paid leave for entrance exams 

You can also take time off when applying to a school/university that you are entering by entrance exam. This leave amounts to:

  • 6 working days when applying to secondary school;
  • 12 working days if you are applying to university/doctoral studies. 

Your employer continues to pay your salary while you are on leave. 

If your employer does not agree to give you this leave, you can take unpaid leave, but it will be for half the days specified above. 

Unpaid leave for educational purposes

Apart from the above mentioned cases, you are also entitled to unpaid leave:

  • for exam preparation - up to 20 working days per academic year; 
  • for preparation and taking of entrance, matriculation or state examinations, for a thesis/project in secondary educational institutions - up to 30 working days
  • for preparing and taking a state exam, for a thesis/project in higher education institutions - up to 4 months
  • for the preparation and defence of a dissertation by part-time doctoral students or doctoral students in independent training - up to 4 months.

Leave to perform civic and community duties

This refers to the following cases where your employer is obliged to give you leave:

  • For marriage - 2 days;
  • When you donate blood - on the day of the blood donation and 1 day after;
  • On the death of a parent, child, spouse, brother, sister and parent of the other spouse or other lineal relatives - 2 days
  • When summoned in court or by other authorities as a party, witness, expert witness, etc.- for the day of the event
  • If you have been given notice by your employer to terminate your employment - 1 hour per day for the days of notice. You cannot use this right if you work 7 hours or less;
  • For the time of training and participation in voluntary disaster protection formations;
  • If you are pregnant or in the advanced stages of IVF treatment, your employer is required to let you go to medical examinations when they need to be performed during working hours. You will be paid for this time by your employer.