Bulgaria intends to increase opportunities for upskilling the workforce with a focus on acquiring digital skills, and identifying and providing a mechanism for validating skills acquired through informal and independent learning. This was stated by the Bulgarian Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva during her participation in a video conference of EU member state ministers on employment and social policy. The discussion elaborated on the recovery measures adopted at national and European level to address the effects of the current crisis and stabilise the labour market.

During her talk Minister Sacheva emphasised that the Bulgarian government has taken urgent measures to promote equality between women and men and to protect vulnerable groups - working parents, low-income individuals, single parents, the elderly and disabled people. We have introduced a new type of payment for parents of children aged 14 or younger who have taken at least 20 days unpaid leave due to the lack of opportunity to work from home during the state of emergency. We have also taken measures to utilise alternative methods for providing social services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Sacheva said.

Bulgaria is currently updating its labour legislation to facilitate and enhance opportunities for working from home and flexible working hours. We are convinced that the increased use of these flexible work options will play an important role when we eventually return to sustainable economic growth, Minister Denitsa Sacheva said. However, they must be implemented in a way that respects the workers’ rights and interests. The implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and timely transposition of the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive are crucial in this respect, Minister Sacheva added.

Bulgaria is still reviewing the Recovery Plan presented by the European Commission. Our initial analysis shows that the EC has taken into account the strong message from Member States that the social dimension needs to be a key element of this document. The EU's long-term objectives shall be supplemented by specific instruments and appropriate funding to support Member States' efforts in addressing the effects of COVID-19 on the labour market and on the affected social groups, Minister Denitsa Sacheva said.