5. What rights and obligations do workers and employers have when working remotely/from home?

     The Labour Code regulates the terms and conditions for home-based work as well as for telework. A mandatory requirement for home-based and remote work is the conclusion of an employment contract with a worker or an employee.

    Working from home is the performance of work duties related to the manufacture of a product and/or the provision of a service at the employee’s home or at other premises of his/her choice outside the employer’s place of work.

       An employment contract may provide that work obligations related to the manufacture of products and/or provision of services may be performed for remuneration at the employee's home or at other premises of his/her choice outside the employer's place of work, using the employee’s own and/or the employer’s equipment, materials and other associated means. The employment contract also specifies: the location of the workplace; the remuneration in accordance with the payment systems applied and other conditions related to the specific requirements for performing work at home.

    The employer is obliged to provide, at its own expense, to the worker performing work at home: conditions for the performance of the work assigned at the start of the employment relationship; payment and treatment equal to those provided by the employer to the workers and employees working at the undertaking; healthy and safe working conditions; qualification, re-qualification and training; social and health insurance under the conditions and procedures laid down by law; opportunity for trade union association, participation in the general meeting of employees of the undertaking, information and consultation and participation in a collective agreement in the undertaking; social, welfare and cultural services.

   Telework is a form of organised work outsourced from the employers’ premises, performed under an employment relationship through the use of information technology, which was, or could have been, performed on the employers’ premises before it was outsourced.

  The individual employment contract specifies all terms, rights and obligations of the parties to the agreement in relation to remote work and its performing. The individual employment agreement or collective agreement may contain agreement on: combined working modes, as well as the terms and procedure for their application; options and conditions for switching from remote work to work on the employer’s premises; the procedure for assignment and reporting of remote work; the content, workload, results achieved and other characteristics of the work that are relevant for taking into account the work performed.

     The employer is to provide the following: the equipment needed to perform the remote work, as well as the supplies for its operation; software; technical maintenance and support; devices for communicating with the worker or employee working remotely, including internet connectivity; data protection; information on and requirements for operating the equipment and keeping it in good repair, and the legal requirements and rules, including those of the undertaking in the field of data protection for data to be used in the course of the telework; a surveillance system if required to be installed at the workplace and if the worker or employee’s written consent thereto has been obtained; in such cases the worker’s or employee's right to privacy must be respected; other technical or documentary tools under the individual employment contract and/or the collective agreement.

    An individual employment contract may provide for the use of a worker’s or employee's own equipment, together with all rights and obligations arising from that.

   Workers and employees performing telework enjoy the same rights in terms of work organisation and health and safety at work as laid down in the Bulgarian legislation and in the collective agreements in force in the undertaking as employees working on the employer’s premises. The employer needs to assess all risks at the workplace as well as the work organisation and the work equipment used, and to take the necessary measures to avoid or mitigate the identified risks.

   The employer is required to ensure that as at the date of commencement or amendment of the employment relationship the remote workplaces satisfy the minimum requirements for health and safety at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act and its implementing regulations. The employer is responsible for the safe and healthy conditions at the workplaces of the workers and employees working remotely, and is obliged to inform them of the requirements on the work organisation and of the safe and healthy working conditions in accordance with the legal regulations, the applicable collective agreements, the internal rules of the undertaking, the undertaking's policy on health and safety at work, and of all requirements and rules on the work organisation and on working with video displays.