Employment Law in Turkey

A knowledge of employment law will make your life much easier, whether you're an employer or an employee. Every country's employment law is different and the employment law in Turkey contains many unusual features.

Turkish law gives you substantial employment protection but be aware: many employers (though fewer each year) try to get around the law by employing you (totally illegally) without a contract and paying you cash in hand. See our post on Working Illegally in Turkey.

The Turkish Codes

The Turkish Tax Code and Social Security Code set out your rights and obligations when it comes to taxation and social security.

Unless specifically stated to the contrary, all the provisions of both codes apply equally to local workers and to foreign workers.

Foreign workers have exactly the same remedies available to them as Turkish workers when it comes to enforcing their rights.

Probationary period and work contracts in Turkey

Under Turkish law, the employer is entitled to place you on a probationary period of up to two months, during which time he can dismiss you without cause and you can leave without having to give notice.

The employer must give you a written contract setting out, at the very minimum, the following:

  1. Your job title
  2. A summary of your job responsibilities, if this isn’t obvious from the job title
  3. Your rate of pay
  4. Your hours of work
  5. Your holiday entitlement
  6. The person to whom you report
  7. The period of notice that you are required to give or be given
  8. Any special or unusual terms

There is no special format required for this contract.

For a contract to work in a senior post that you think will be long term, it is a good idea (and fairly inexpensive – around €250 for a simple contract) to have an employment lawyer check it over, because the law is complex. If the contract does not comply with all the technical requirements your rights can be prejudiced.

Failure to give you such a contract is against Labour Law and so can be reported to the Ministry of Labour & Social Security – telephone them on 170 or contact via www.csgb.gov.tr. Failure entitles the worker to compensation for any loss suffered.

Restraint of trade

The employer may place a clause in your contract preventing you from working for his competitors for a certain period of time after you leave his employment and within a certain geographical area. The clause must be limited in time (for example, to a period of two years) and regional extent (for example, restricting you taking another job in Bodrum).

Any restraint of trade clauses can only be enforced through the courts and they can only be applied if an employee has important knowledge about the business. For example, it would not normally be reasonable to impose a restraint of trade clause on a waiter or car mechanic but it might be reasonable to have such a clause in a contract with a chef or a manager.

The restriction as to the scope of the restraint – i.e. the range of people that you cannot work for and the geographical area to which it applies – must be reasonable in all the circumstances. Otherwise it will be rejected by a court.

Getting paid in Turkey

In Turkey, almost everybody is paid monthly in arrears and it is rare, except in very senior roles, for there to be any hidden ‘perks’ or benefits such as the company paying for your accommodation, your health insurance or your children’s education.

If you’re working in a casual post (such as behind a bar) it is common to be paid daily at the end of each shift: often in cash.

When they’re talking about their earnings, most Turks talk about their monthly salary and not about their annual salary. In other words, someone will say that they earn TRY3,000 per month. Things can get complicated at this point because, especially in a casual setting, people will often refer to their net monthly income (i.e. after deduction of tax and social security payments) rather than their total (gross) monthly income.

When discussing pay with either your employer or your colleagues, you need to be clear about the basis being used for the calculation. The best is your gross monthly salary as the amount of tax and other deductions from it can vary from person to person.

An added complication at this point is that, in some European countries, it is customary for an employee to receive 13 or even 14 ‘monthly’ salaries per year: perhaps one each calendar month and another at Christmas. If this is what you’re used to, please note that it does not happen in Turkey. You will receive 12 monthly payments.

Relocation expenses to Turkey

Except for people being transferred to Turkey by an international company, it is rare for an employer to pay anything towards your relocation expenses.

Taxes and social security in Turkey

As an employee, you will usually have to pay tax and social security payments. The amount of tax depends upon your earnings. See our various guides on taxes in Turkey.

Social security costs of 12% are deducted from your salary each month.

Holiday entitlement in Turkey

After you have been employed for a minimum of one year (unless more generous terms are agreed in your contract) you are entitled to a minimum of 14 days’ paid holiday per year.

If you have been employed for five to 15 years, you are entitled to 20 days.

If you have been employed for more than 15 years, you are entitled to 26 days.

In addition, you will be entitled to public holidays. These amount to 14.5 days per year. See our Guide to Public Holidays in Turkey.

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