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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure BG-2020-31/1086 Updated – measures in Bulgaria

COVID-19: Assistance for frontline workers in health care services

КОВИД-19: Помощ за лица от първа линия

Country Bulgaria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 August 2020 – 30 November 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Tripartite agreements
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
Author Eva Dimitrova (for Eurofound)
Measure added 10 September 2020 (updated 18 January 2022)

Background information

The Bulgarian government approved a series of measures that shall support and motivate employees, working at the front-line during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Core pillar of the programme is a support bonus of BGN 1,000 (€500) monthly for medical staff.

The support has been paid since March 2020 and will be available until the end of 2020. For this purpose an initial budget of BGN 120 million has been secured. The resources come from operational programme 'Human Resource development' 2014-2020 co-funded by the EU. Nevertheless, during the second COVID-19 wave the budget has been expanded with an additional BGN 60 million (€30 million).

The following occupational groups are also entitled to additional payments ranging from BGN 610 (€310) up to BGN 1,000 (€500), depending on the sector and individual level of involvement:

  • employees at the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases;
  • employees at the regional health insurance funds seconded to the regional health inspectorates;
  • employees at the system of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the system of the Ministry of Interior and the National Toll Management, who have directly carried out or are carrying out activities related to treatment, prevention of the spread and / or coping of the effects of COVID-19.

Content of measure

Medical staff is entitled to a bonus payment of BGN 1,000 (€500) in accordance to quantitative criteria:

  • when there are five COVID-19 patients in a medical institution, 40 workers shall receive additional remuneration;
  • when the patients are between five and ten, 70 workers shall receive a bonus;
  • when there are more than 10 patients, 100 people shall receive additional remuneration.

In the emergency centres, the criteria are 12 hours of work, which is directly related to monitoring and treatment, as long as it is carried out until entering the hospital's admission department.

Specialists, working on COVID-19 tests in independent laboratories, are also entitled to bonuses.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

27 October 2021

The measure has been extended until November 2021 after the adoption of government decree allocating to the budget of the Ministry of Health additional BGN 38 million (€19 million). Thus the sustainability of the measure is ensured and extra remuneration to medical and non-medical staff combating COVID-19 is guaranteed.

30 June 2021

Funds in the amount of BGN 240 million have been provided for additional remunerations of BGN 1,000 per month to medical and non-medical staff in hospitals, RHIs and others "on the first line", directly engaged in the implementation of activities related to prevention and control measures. COVID-19, as well as providing available protective equipment.

The funds are from project BG05M9OP001-1.099-0001 "Support of workers in the health care system in conditions of threat to public health from COVID-19" under the Operational Program "Human Resources Development" 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Union through the European Union social fund.

For the time being, the measure is valid until 31 July 2021, but intentions have already been expressed that it will be extended until the end of 2021.

15 December 2020

In addition, frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 will be able to use holiday vouchers worth BGN 210 (€105) by 31 November 2021. The vouchers could be used for domestic touristic accommodations and services. The vouchers should be used for not less than seven nights in sites of categorised accommodation.

In addition, from the beginning of 2021, BGN 10 will be paid to a doctor for each vaccinated person.

03 November 2020

According to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, the 2021 state budget anticipates more resources for the health sector, which will allow an extension of the bonus programme for 2021. During the next year doctors will get a monthly bonus of BGN 600 (€300) on top of their salaries, nurses will receive BGN 360 (€180) and sanitary staff will receive BGN 120 (€60) additional monthly payment.

Use of measure

As of October 2020, 7,200 medics received additional bonuses.

In August 2020, 7,287 medical and non-medical staff from 83 hospitals received additional payments.

According to media information, around 15,000 employees at the Ministry of Interior and the National Toll Management have also received bonuses of BGN 650 (€325) as well.

GPs have been added to the front-line doctors, and they are also entitled to the additional remuneration. GPs will receive the full amount of money for the months of November and December - BGN 1,000 will be given to about 5,000 people - general practitioners and persons employed by them.

Contents

  • Bonuses
  • Solidarity

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Particular professions
The COVID-19 risk group at the workplace
Workers in care facilities
Workers in essential services
Sector specific set of companies
Companies providing essential services
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Other social actors (e.g. NGOs)
European Funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level

Involvement

At the beginning of the crisis, the unions demanded measures to support the most affected industries, part of which is the health sector.

During the first couple of months of the measure, some medics express criticism towards the condition of carrying out a 12-hours shift to get a bonus, as many of them have shorter shifts, but still work with COVID-19 patients and are exposed to the virus. Representatives of the health sector organised protests and demanded amendments of the criteria and the resignation of the Minister of Health. This tension led to a change of the minister and better adaptation of the bonus criteria.

Views and reactions

The bonus programme is welcomed by the medical workers, but not the criteria. They want more inclusiveness.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities Q86 Human health activities
      Q87 Residential care activities
      Q88 Social work activities without accommodation
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Health associate professionals
      Protective services workers
      Health professionals

Sources

  • 29 April 2020: 15,000 police officers, as well as doctors, received bonuses for their work "on the front line" копирано от: https://debati.bg/15-000-politsai-sashto-kato-lekarite-poluchiha-bonusi-za-rabotata-si-na-parva-linia/ (debati.bg)
  • 02 May 2020: Doctors want the resignation of the Minister of Health, they have not received the aid of BGN 1,000 (offnews.bg)
  • 10 June 2020: Holiday vouchers worth BGN 210 for first-line employees (business.dir.bg)
  • 25 June 2020: Fіrѕt-lіne medісѕ іn 73 hoѕріtalѕ received bonuses of BGN 1,000 (www.24chasa.bg)
  • 02 September 2020: Another BGN 60 million goes to the medics on the first line in the fight against COVID-19 (www.investor.bg)
  • 13 October 2020: 7,200 first-line medics receive bonuses of BGN 1,000. (www.segabg.com)
  • 03 November 2020: Borissov promised a monthly bonus of BGN 600 for doctors and BGN 360 for nurses (skener.news)
  • 15 December 2020: Публикувано във факти.бг: Личните лекари на първа линия получават по 1000 лв от дне (fakti.bg)
  • 14 October 2021: Вижте какво реши служебният кабинет днес, 14 октомври 2021 г. (trud.bg)
  • 27 October 2021: Одобрени са допълнителни разходи по бюджета на Министерството на здравеопазването (www.mh.government.bg)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), COVID-19: Assistance for frontline workers in health care services, measure BG-2020-31/1086 (measures in Bulgaria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/BG-2020-31_1086.html

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