On September 21, 2022, the Sofia City Court declared illegal the temporary labor contracts that Wizz Air Hungary used to hire cabin crew in Bulgaria.
Legal reform in the early 2000s outlawed the use of repetitive short-term labor contracts which employers in Bulgaria often used to easily dismiss employees. Currently, there is a maximum probationary period of up to 6 months under which an employer may dismiss an employee without reason.
At Wizz Air in Bulgaria, these temporary contracts were used to hire staff for up to three years, each contract having a validity of one and a half years, before offering permanent contracts. This allowed the airline to easily dismiss non-company-oriented employees by simply not extending their contracts.
The airline was involved in a massive scandal in April 2020 after a leaked recording where the director of flight operations was supposedly heard instructing managers to get rid of the “bad apples”. This included but was not limited to those who refused to work on days free from work, refused to extend duty times, or called in sick.
Temporary contracts in Bulgaria are allowed only for seasonal and short-natured jobs, or by exception for activities that are not seasonal and short-termed, provided there is a proven, specific, and objective economic, technological, or financial reason. Wizz Air’s contracts had been signed under the second case scenario for non-seasonal activities with the objective reason being the seasonal nature of aviation. This contradiction led the court to deem that this “does not fulfill in any way” the requirement of the second condition. Contracts signed in violation of these terms are deemed permanent in nature, making hundreds of dismissals in 2020 illegal. Unfortunately, dismissal appeals in Bulgaria have a two-month deadline, which has already passed.
“The use of temporary contracts has been controversial for many years with crew members being exploited for three years and then discarded. Following the example of our colleagues in Bulgaria, we are determined to stop this practice also in Romania,” says Mircea Constantin, Head of Representation for FPU Romania.
The court decision could be appealed by Wizz Air.