This article will address the procedure for employing a minor aged 16 in Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian legislation is in line with the international legal framework regarding the problematic employment of children and youth. The legal framework is contained in Chapter XV of the Labour Code (abbr. LC), particularly in Section I "Special protection of minors" and in the Ordinance № 6 of 2006 on the terms and conditions for granting work permits to individuals under 18, hereinafter referred to as the Ordinance.
Labour capacity under the Labour Code is the possibility of individuals to acquire the rights and obligations related to the hiring of labor for use by the other party to the employment contract - namely the employer. Labor capacity comes at a certain age, also called the minimum age of employment, which is a general requirement for admission to employment under an employment contract. As per Bulgarian legislation this minimum age is 16, pursuant to Art. 301, para. 1 LC. Exceptionally, labor capacity may occur before the age of 16.
The actual becoming of age is not the only prerequisite for employment. The procedure covers additional actions to be taken by the individual wishing to start work as well as by the employer so as to achieve the end result - an employment contract with a minor aged 16. This procedure is described in detail in Art. 302, para. 1 and Art. 303, para. 2 of the Labour Code and Art. 8-16 of the Ordinance. First, the employer must carry out a risk assessment, to which the minor will be exposed at the workplace. This requirement is contained in the Ordinance and is related to the prohibition contained in Art. 303, para. 1 of the Labour Code that individuals aged between 16 and 18 cannot be employed to carry out any work that is heavy, hazardous or harmful to their health and to their proper physical, mental and moral development. In their risk assessment the employer should consider the following factors influencing the working environment:
- equipment and design of the workplace;
- type and location of work equipment;
- type and degree of influence of physical and chemical substances;
- organization of the working process.
Based on the assessment the employer must take measures to ensure the minor's health and safety. Under § 1, item 1 of the Supplementary Provisions of the Health and Safety of Workers Act, the "healthy and safe working conditions" are such working conditions that do not lead to occupational diseases and accidents at work and which create conditions for the full physical, mental and social well-being of working people.
Secondly, the procedure includes a thorough medical examination, which should establish the general health - physical and psychological - of the individual. This preliminary medical examination is carried out by a person elected by a GP. Once the doctor determines the suitability of the minor to perform work on the forthcoming employment, they issue a labour medical certificate.
Next, based on the risk assessment made by the employer and the preliminary medical examination, a medical report is drawn up by the occupational health services, which must be positive and must establish:
- good general health of the individual;
- the suitability of the individual to perform the specific job for which they are applying;
- that this particular operation will not harm the health and interfere with the normal physical mental and moral development of the person.
Finally, in order to successfully complete the procedure to conclude an employment contract with a minor aged 16, the employer is required to obtain permission from the Executive Agency "General Directorate of Labour". For this purpose, the employer must apply to the regional directorate "Labour Inspectorate" in accordance with the location of the workplace, to which the respective minor has applied (Art. 302, para. 2 and Art. 303, para. 2 LC). The permit is not issued automatically based on the medical report, but after an assessment by the regional labor inspectorate. Permission is given for each particular case.
The employer must apply to the application the following documents:
- Description of the type of work that will be performed by the individual under 18 (job description);
- The results of the assessment of the risk, to which the minor may be exposed to (map of risk assessment / list of the risks in the workplace together with protocols stating the measurements made by the employer of the working environment factors);
- Measures taken to protect the health and safety of the individual under 18;
- List of the insured personal protection of the individual, if such are needed in order to perform the work to be carried out by the minor;
- medical report under Art. 12 para. 2 of the Ordinance issued by the occupational health service, certifying the suitability of the minor to perform the work for which they have applied;
- Where persons subject to compulsory basic training or continuing their secondary education are employed during the school year, what must be presented is a certificate for the beginning and end of classes of the school where the individual studies.
- Written statement from a parent, guardian or custodian that they are aware of the possible risks at work and the measures taken to ensure the health and safety of the workplace by the employer of an individual under 18;
- Copy of the identity card or birth certificate of the person applying for a job.
The application together with the above documents must be submitted in hard copies to the secretariat of the regional WTD directorate, by mail or by courier. Alternatively, the employer has the option to submit the documents electronically. The request which must be filled in electronic form can be found below. The above documents which must also be enclosed, should be scanned and attached to electronic form. The request must be signed with a qualified electronic signature, then submitted electronically.
According to Art. 16 para. 2 of the Ordinance, within 15 days of submission of the application the regional labor inspectorate must rule on this request for authorization. Authorization may be refused if the working conditions are unfavorable for the minor.
Labor capacity of the individual arises from the moment of issuance of the permit, because it is from that moment onwards that a minor aged 16 has the ability and suitability to join an employment relationship and to make declarations of intention, thereby carrying out personal action rights and obligations in relation to the consideration provided in the form of workforce.
Considering the age of the designated person for the employer arise additional rights, such as:
- notify the parents of the minor of any risks at work or if any problems arise;
- provide the minor worker part time work - namely 35 hours a week, seven hours a day;
- create the minor worker conditions for professional qualification;
- provide annual medical examinations;
- provide paid annual leave with a minimum of 26 working days.