Business Trips Abroad – What New?

The elimination of the inner European borders and the globalization of the economy inevitably lead to more business cooperation between Bulgarian companies and their foreign partners. This makes enterprises send employees on business trips more frequently – about project activities, conducting negotiations, etc.

Since the beginning of 2017 amendments in the Labor Code connected with business trips abroad have come into force. These changes practically transpose the European law in this field. A regulation on the conditions and order for sending workers and employees in provision of services has also been introduced. The new rules concern the employees, occupied in the private field – for example IT, telecommunication and insurance companies, banks, construction companies, etc. Persons from the merchant navy are out of the regulation scope. The rules will not address departments and establishments in the public sector (they comply with the Regulation on business trips and specialization abroad).

What changes with the new regulation?

The principle of equal treatment

The principle of equal treatment and placing employees on business trips in the same working environment as the employees of the host state are at the basis of the new rules.

This means, for example, that for the duration of the business trip the remuneration of the posted employee is not below the average rate of the same job in the host state.

Actually this regime has been applied until now but it addressed only business trips longer than 30 days. In the future, the regulation will be applied without taking into concern the duration of the duty trip.

On posting abroad – conclusion of an agreement

In the future before going on a duty trip the employee and employer must sign a specific agreement in advance in which the period of the business trip, the payment, the duration of the working day, the official holidays of the host state and other financial conditions concerning the business trip should be pointed out.

The money for traveling to the host state and coming back from it is covered by the employer. However, he is not obliged to provide allowance money and accommodation money – this can be arranged by mutual consent. 

Here lies one of the significant differences in the business trip regime for employees out of the provision of services. To their remuneration is added travel, allowance and accommodation money at a rate determined in the Business Trips and Specialization Abroad Ordinance. However, a payment equal to that of their colleagues in the host state is not arranged.

When employees who provide services are sent on a duty trip their employers owe them remuneration equal to that of the same or similar jobs in the host state, as well as travel money. The employers do not owe allowance and accommodation money. Thus, it can be inferred that on a business trip for providing services the remunerations in the host state are high enough to cover the above mentioned points.

In practice this conclusion can be contradicted. Let us imagine that an employee at a Bulgarian IT company receives an offer for a business trip in Germany. The contract addresses a series of questions related to the working conditions but does not foresee anything about his accommodation. Thus, the employee has to face the problem with finding a suitable place for accommodation for their stay abroad. Along with these grounds we can add that during the business trip the employee is detached from his usual way of life with which they have grown used to and in which they have probably created the necessary conveniences. They are put in a new environment. From this point of view it is not entirely clear whether the financial conditions related to the business trip will compensate arising challenges.

On the other hand, Bulgaria’s remunerations are among the lowest in Europe. The financial conditions in the host state will most probably compensate the inconveniences related to the moving in and the work for the respective period of time of the business trip. 

Sending on a business trip from another country in Bulgaria

A reciprocal regime has been established related to the provision of services in the opposite direction, that is to say – members of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland. When arranging requirements the working conditions have to be at least like those of Bulgarian employees. When the working conditions in Bulgaria are not as favorable as those in the sending state the more favorable for the employee conditions are applied.

A requirement to register every business trip in Bulgaria is introduced. In these cases the foreign employers have to inform the General Labor Inspectorate.

About established cases

A deadline until 08.02.2017 is given to the employers with established cases of already sent on a business trip employees (whether from Bulgaria to a foreign country or from a foreign country to Bulgaria). The employers have to align their relations in accordance with the new rules. This means that they have to make specific agreements and, respectively, inform the General Labor Inspectorate. Otherwise they risk being imposed with administrative sanctions.  

Author: Doychin Ivanov, Attorney-at-law