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  • Savina Naydenova

Unused and postponed paid annual leave

According to Bulgarian legislation, employees in an employment relationship are entitled to paid annual leave each year. According to the Bulgarian Labour Code (here and after “the LC”), every employee is entitled to at least 20 working days of paid annual leave. The leave is granted for each calendar year upon the employee's written request or upon the employer's written consent and is determined in working days.


Under the terms of Article 173, par. 5 of the LC, an employee must use paid annual leave by the end of the calendar year to which it relates. According to the same provision, the employer is obliged to grant the employee paid annual leave until the end of the calendar year, unless its use is postponed in accordance with Article 176 of the Labour Code, in which case the employee must be granted the use of at least half of the paid annual leave to which he/she is entitled for the calendar year.


The use of paid annual leave may be postponed to the following calendar year under the following circumstances:

1. by the employer - for important industrial reasons

2. by the employee - if he/she takes another type of leave or at his/her request, with the consent of the employer.

It is possible that the leave, even if not postponed, will not be taken until the end of the calendar year.


If leave is postponed or not taken by the end of the calendar year to which it relates, the employer must ensure that it is taken in the following calendar year, but not later than 6 months after the end of the calendar year to which it relates. Unused leave from the previous year must therefore be taken by 01.07. of the following calendar year and with the permission of the employer.


If the employer has not permitted the use of postponed or unused annual leave within the provided period (6 months) of the following calendar year, the employee is entitled to determine the time of its use by giving the employer at least 14 days' written notice. It can be concluded that an employee who has postponed or not taken annual leave for the previous year can choose when to take it after 01.07 of the following year, and only needs to previously inform his employer.


It should be noted that according to the provision of Art. 176a, par. 1 of the Labour Code, if paid annual leave or part of it is not taken within two years of the end of the year for which it is due, for whatever reason, the right to take it is barred by statute of limitations. Therefore, if paid annual leave is postponed under the conditions and in accordance with Art. 176, para. 1 of the Labour Code /by the employer - for important industrial reasons or by the employee - if he/she takes another type of leave or at his/her request with the consent of the employer/, the employee's right to take such leave is time-barred after the expiry of two years from the end of the year in which the reason for not taking it ceased. Therefore, the period during which the deferred leave may be taken may vary from employee to employee, depending on when the reason for which the paid annual leave was deferred ceased to exist. The same applies to the provision of Article 38a of the Ordinance on Working Time, Breaks and Holidays (here and after “OWHBH”)- "if the use of paid annual leave is postponed in accordance with Article 176, par. 1, item 2 of the Labour Code, due to the use of another type of statutory leave by the employee, the term of limitation for the use of the postponed leave shall begin to run at the end of the calendar year in which the employee returned to work".





Another provision related to the use and/or postponement of paid annual leave is Article 38 of the OWHBH - "In the cases referred to in Article 176, par. 1, item 2 of the Labour Code (postponement of the use of paid annual leave by the employee - when using another type of leave or at his/her request with the consent of the employer), the employee shall submit to the employer a written request for postponement of the use of paid annual leave for the following calendar year. If the employee takes another type of statutory leave, it is not necessary to submit a written request to the employer to postpone the taking of paid annual leave to the following calendar year".


In addition, Article 37a of the OWHBH provides that at the beginning of each calendar year, but not later than 31 January, the employer must inform each employee in writing of the amount of paid annual leave he or she is entitled to take in the calendar year, including any postponed or untaken leave from previous calendar years. Pursuant to Article 37d of the same normative act, the employer may defer the use of paid annual leave both to an individual employee and to the employees of the relevant organisational (structural) unit.


If you have any questions regarding unused and postponed paid annual leave, please do not hesitate to contact us at office@peshkovski.bg.


This publication is informative in nature and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.


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