More than 97 000 jobs were saved by managing a temporary wage subsidy scheme

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Veselin MITOV
Podkrepa Confederation of Labour (CL)

The economic measures taken in Bulgaria during the pandemic were agreed and implemented through interaction and consensus between trade unions, government and employers. Social dialogue was successfully used to develop short-term working arrangements and different schemes to maintain employment, thereby preventing mass redundancies. Podkrepa CL participated actively in the process of dialogue and consultancy to influence policy making. Our priority was to find fast and effective solutions on health and safety, remote work, due competitions, as well to ensure the stability of the social security system. 

As a positive example, we could point out the temporary wage subsidy scheme, covering 60% of the wages of employees of companies that were forced to temporarily close their businesses. Thanks to this, more than 97 000 workers were able to preserve their jobs.

In addition, Podkrepa CL welcomes the measure to reduce the value added tax for restaurants, the catering sector and books from 20% to 9% from this summer to the end of 2021. For us, this measure will have two additional positive effects, namely:

  • employees in restaurants and the catering industry will be guaranteed a higher income, because of the obligation introduced to increase the minimal social insurance threshold for that activity from 560 BGN to 800 BGN.  In practice, there will be a real increase in their take-home pay,
  • the measure will support the limitation of illegal employment in the tourism sector.

For us, protecting workers against the adverse impacts of the crisis is not only about increasing protection for typical jobs. It is also about including and better protecting those working on the margins: non-standard workers, zero-hours workers and low-paid workers with precarious working conditions. The persistent gaps in social protection coverage for those workers constitute a major challenge for Bulgaria.