With Decree No. 71 of 23.03.2020 the President of the Republic of Bulgaria promulgated The measures and actions during the state of emergency act, adopted under a Decision of the National Assembly on March 13, 2020.
The present document aims to give a brief overview of the adopted texts, and we would also like to note that the team of Murgova & Partners Attorneys at Law is currently working on subsequent memos, which will give more detailed information on the specific measures, broken down by areas. We expect these texts to be published in the upcoming hours and days.
The Act introduces specific measures for the period of the declared state of emergency in several directions: suspension and extension of a number of procedural terms (deadlines), termination of pending procedures, restriction of notarial proceedings, enabling employers to take measures for reorganization of the work process, empowering military forces to undertake certain actions. The Transitional and Final Provisions amend a number of provisions of the existing legislation connected to the accepted measures and it must be noted that the amendments are substantial and are subject to a separate independent analysis within the specific area.
1. Measures, concerning the employers
As we have already mentioned in our review of the Draft version of the of the Act, prior to its final adoption, the employer is given the opportunity, depending on the specific nature of the work and the possibility of securing it, at his own discretion to introduce working from home or working remotely. The employer is also entitled to provide an employee up to one-half of the paid annual leave which can be done regardless of the consent of the employee.
By virtue of explicit Order the Employer may suspend the working process of the company or part of it, of all of its employees or of part of them for the period of the state of emergency. The working process of the company may be also suspended by virtue of an explicit order issued by the competent state authority.
The Employer is entitled to implement part-time work for employees.
As a measure in support of the employers, the National Social Security Institute is envisaged, through the means of the Unemployment Fund, to cover 60% of the amount of the social security income for January 2020 for people, insured under art. 4, subart. 1, item 1 of the Social Security Code (employees regardless of the nature of work). Which employers will have the opportunity to benefit from the measure is yet to be determined, and the Act provides for the conditions for this to be determined by a following act of the Council of Ministers.
Special rules have been introduced for workers who provide or assist in the provision of medical care, respectively for civil servants who, by job description or by order of a manager, assist in the provision of medical care. They are not subject to the restrictions on overtime and its duration under the Labor Code and it is similar with the police and fire safety and public protection bodies that work overtime on regulatory restrictions.
Murgova & Partners Attorneys at Law is available for clarifications and drafting of respective documentation. We are currently working on a detailed article on all measures introduced by the Act concerning employers.
2. Restrictions related to procedural terms (deadlines), pending procedures and proceedings
As of 13.03.2020 and until the state of emergency is lifted all procedural terms (deadlines) related to all and any court, administrative, arbitration and executions procedures and cases are suspended. This restriction is not be applicable to the terms (deadlines) related to criminal procedures, extradition and coercive measures. Furthermore, prescription terms are ceased, as well as terms for the implementation of instructions given by an administrative authority.
Various procedural terms under the Social Security Code, The act on the foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Act on the national community centers, the Act on the Pre-school and School Education, the Act on Corporate Income Tax, the Act on Personal Income Tax , the Social Security Procedure Code, the Act on Independent Financial Audit, the Insurance Code, the Act on Public Offering of Securities, the Act on Financial Instruments Markets, the Act on the activities of collective investment schemes and other collective investment undertakings, have been extended or suspended.
The validity period of the documents for residence of foreigners, the validity period of ID cards and driving licenses have been extended.
The introduced changes are quite detailed, with exceptions in each case. This makes detailed analysis impossible in the context of this short document. Our team at Murgova & Partners Attorneys at Law is working on a detailed article focusing specifically on these measures. We recommend a mandatory consultation with a lawyer regarding the suspended deadlines, the effect of this measure and their resumption after the state of emergency has been lifted.
All procedures for public sale or entering into possession have been suspended.
The Act imposes a moratorium on the blocking of bank accounts owned individuals and medical establishments, the attachment of salaries and pensions, the inventory of movable property and real estate owned by individuals.
Notarial proceedings are restricted and only “urgent” notarial proceedings are permitted. The text is likely to raise questions because of the lack of a legal definition of “urgent”.
Until the state of emergency is lifted, the effects of late payment on the obligations of private entities, including interest and penalties for late payment, as well as non-monetary consequences such as early repayment, contract termination and seizure of property, shall not apply.
The deadlines for payment of amounts due in connection with the supply of electricity to household customers are extended from 10 to 20 days.
Murgova & Partners Attorneys at Law is working on a detailed article on all measures introduced by the Act and concerning changes within the statutory deadlines.
3. Restrictions on procurement procedures
The adopted measures provide that the Act on the public procurement is not applicable in respect to the purchase of medical devices and personal protective equipment necessary to provide anti-epidemic measures. PPA is not applicable in respect to the procurement of pesticide and hospital waste disposal activities.
The contractors are given the opportunity to renegotiate the deadline for implementation of the public procurement.
Murgova & Partners Attorneys at Law is working on a detailed article on all measures introduced by the Act in relation to public procurement.
4. Measures in educational establishments
For students in day, evening, part-time, individual and combined form of education, as well as in a dual system of education, distance learning must be introduced within an electronic environment using the means of information and communication technologies. Teachers and pedagogical specialists carry out the education by providing a workplace in their home or their chosen premises and by using the necessary technological equipment.
The Minister of Education and Science has been given the opportunity by virtue of an Order to introduce temporary rules regarding the education.
5. Restrictions and measures in the activities of pharmacies and the export of medical products
Pharmacies may dispense medical products only on the basis of a prescription book, without presenting a prescription according to the data on dispensed medical products recently entered in the prescription book, under the terms and procedures determined by the National Health Insurance Fund, until the state of emergency is lifted and two months after its abolition.
During the state of emergency, by virtue of an Order of the Minister of Health the export of certain medical products may be prohibited, with the prohibition being accompanied by an administrative sanction of up to BGN 50,000 depending on the offender.
6. Restrictions related to the EU structural and investment funds’ funds
The possibility of unilaterally modifying grant contracts by the managing authorities, granting grants under simplified rules, shortening the timeframes for direct grants, issuing non-present decisions on all matters of competence of the Program Monitoring Committee are envisaged. The application of some articles from the European Structural and Investment Funds Management Act is excluded.
The Murgova and Partners’ team is available for any additional consultations about the restrictions described herein above, and we are also working on a detailed article on all measures introduced by the Act.
7. Other measures
The Act also introduces a number of other measures, such as:
The possibility of the military forces to participate in the implementation of anti-epidemic measures, under the conditions and in the order determined by an act of the Council of Ministers, such as carrying out identity checks on people, under certain conditions to restrict the movement of people and vehicles until to arrival of the Ministry of Interior bodies and others.
Within 7 days of the promulgation of the Act, medical establishments, state institutions and telecommunications operators through certain officials should carry out an extraordinary check of the technical condition of their energy facilities intended for the supply of electricity.
Entry into force of the law
With the exception of some explicitly stated provisions (with an effect from the date of promulgation), the Act enters into force retroactively – 13.03.2020 and applies until the state of emergency is lifted.
The Murgova & Partners’ team is available for further clarification on the issues raised in this article, and we can assist with any specific legal issues raised by the Act.
Sofia, March 25th, 2020
The Team of Murgova & Partners Attorneys at law