NII TO PAY FOR SICK AND MATERNITY LEAVES
Payment of short-term social compensations for sick and maternity leaves will be effected by the National Insurance Institute (NII) instead of by the employers, Parliament decided by approving on first reading amendments to the Code of Social Insurance. The new rules will be enforced as of 2006 and will be valid for both Bulgaria and abroad. The change was necessitated by this country's future accession to the European Union (EU). Payment of the compensations will be effected on the territory of all EU member countries. The mechanism, projected in the code, will strip employers of their mediation role and will transfer the responsibility to the NII. Thus, control on the money for sick and maternity leaves will be tightened, and the procedure for Bulgarians abroad will be eased, experts believe. The amendments will enter into effect as of the beginning of next year, as the NII needs time to create the organisation for effecting the transfers. In order to get compensations for maternity or sick leaves Bulgarians working abroad will have to fill in standard forms. The documents will be filed to the social insurance institute of the respective country and the money will be collected from there as well. As of next year the NII will be effecting all transfers and the money will be voted within the framework of Bulgaria's budget for the respective year. However, it is not yet clear how the procedure will be functioning on our country's territory,a s until now money for sick leaves were collected from the place of work. The way for paying all compensations to employees in Bulgaria by the NII shall be specified by additional ordinances. The National Assembly has also voted for extending by two years the term for protecting labour rights of workers in coal mining who are sacked because of the sector's restructuring. They will be able to retire independent of their age if they have worked in the branch for at least 20 years. A year of work in that sector is counted for 3 years of pension insurance. Miners get the full size of their pension, which is BGN270 on average. NII's calculations show that due to the extension of the term, the number of pensioners will be increasing by 1,400 a year, which will result in an increase of NII's expenditure by BGN7MN.