A new Ordinance on the “Type and Requirements for Creating and Maintaining of Electronic Documents in Employee Records” (“Ordinance”) was announced in the State Gazette on 15 May 2018, and allows businesses in Bulgaria to move from paper to electronic record keeping for employees.

The first time such legislation has been introduced in Bulgaria, its purpose is to stipulate the terms and conditions for moving from employee paper files to electronic records.

Among other things, the Ordinance regulates the type of electronic documents in the electronic employee record, their creation and maintenance, their storage in employer IT systems, and their exchange between employers and employees.

According to the Ordinance, if an employer creates and maintains electronic documents in an employee’s record, it must notify the employee about it, and the terms and procedure for such notification must be described in the employer’s Internal Labour Rules.

An employer and an employee can also agree through an employment contract or another document to be addressees of electronic statements. This consent can be given before, at the beginning, or later in the employment relationship, and can be withdrawn at any time.

Electronic statements between the parties must be transmitted by means of an electronic registered delivery service as per the definition in Article 3, paragraph 36 of EU Regulation No. 910/2014 of 23 July 2014 on “Electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market,” which repealed Directive 1999/93/EC. The costs for the use of electronic registered delivery service shall be borne by the employer.

Employers are not obliged to keep electronic employee records, however, and have the option of keeping hardcopy archives instead. The option of keeping electronic employee records was introduced with an amendment to the Labour Code in force as of 1 January 2017, but was not applied due to the Council of Ministers’ failure to specify its practical terms and conditions.

Adopting this Ordinance is expected to reduce the administrative burden of employers, and reconcile the practice that employers maintain both employee paper files and automated HR processes.

There will, however, be costs. An employer must pay for any new or upgraded IT systems necessary to be compliant with the Ordinance, the qualified electronic signatures for employees, and the electronic registered delivery service described above.

Furthermore, because the regulation is so new, labour control authorities have had limited experience with electronic records, which may create initial uncertainty during the Ordinance’s implementation period.