Remote work (work from home, work from a distance, telework) is work carried out fully or partially outside of the employer’s premises. This could be the employee's home or elsewhere outside the office premises. It can be set up through a collective agreement or individually agreed upon between the employer and the employee.
Office-based employees may inform their employer of their desire to work remotely. Moreover, the employer may also offer the employees the option to change their workplace from work performed at the employer's premises to teleworking. In either case, if the employee starts working remotely, the employer should create an additional agreement/annexe to the employment contract where all specific conditions, rights and obligations of both sides are indicated.
Only in the event of a state of emergency or a state of emergency epidemic declared by the government (such as the ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic) is the employer permitted to mandate teleworking. In this case, the consent of the employees is not required, nor is an additional agreement/annexe needed.
Health & safety at home
Employers carry the same responsibility for employee accidents when teleworking as they do for in-office work. Therefore, employers must inform employees of potential risks when working remotely. However, to control the observance of health and safety rules and requirements, employers can only visit an employee’s home/remote office during working hours and after notifying them. The employee should not deny access to their home/remote office without a sufficient reason.
Employees must comply with the health and safety at work provisions and instructions and immediately inform the employer in the event of an accident. Employees working remotely are extended the same work organisation and health and safety at work rights that are stipulated in the Bulgarian employment law as the employees working in the office.
Workspace guidelines in Bulgaria
Employers who have employees working from home are obliged to:
Provide all necessary equipment to perform the work, such as a computer or laptop – unless otherwise agreed that the employee performs the work on their device, which should be indicated in the employment contract. In such cases, the employer usually bears the costs for office supplies (e.g. paper and printer cartridges)
Ensure the equipment
Cover the costs of installing, servicing, operating and maintaining the equipment.
Provide appropriate technical support facility and necessary training targeted at the service of the equipment - unless otherwise provided in a separate agreement.
Provide information and requirements for operating the equipment and keeping it in good condition.
Facilitate the employee’s data protection.
Provide other technical or documentary support according to the individual/collective employment agreement.
Moreover, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees that work remotely. Remote workers must not be treated in a less favourable manner than office-based workers.
Employees who work remotely are obliged to:
Designate a specific area (at the place they work remotely) to serve as a workplace
Store properly and use correctly the equipment provided by the employer
Observe the employer’s policy on the organisation of work and health and safety at work
Provide the employer with access to their home office within the working time in compliance with health and safety at work
Organise their working time, so it meets the mandatory daily and weekly breaks, so they are harmonised with the working time of office-based employees.