Hire in Turkey
Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in Turkey.
Turkish Lira (TRY)
Key Country Facts
Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country that lies partly in Asia and partly in Europe. It is situated at the crosswords of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey shares borders with the Black Sea to the north and Georgia to the northeast. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran are to the east, Iraq to the southwest, Syria and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. Greece and Bulgaria lie northwest of Turkey.
Turkey covers an area of 783,562 square kilometers, of which 97% is in Asia and 3% is in Europe. Aside from Russia, Turkey is the largest country in Europe. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
There is a variety of climates in Turkey due to the exposure to coastal areas and different elevations. The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas have a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas bordering the Black Sea have a temperate oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters.
Culture in Turkey is very diverse and is derived from the various ethnicities and traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia and Middle East. Turkey is both traditional and modern so cultural practices, social attitudes and lifestyles vary significantly across the country. Turkey was previously part of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the modern Turkish state, with a strong national identity, took precedence over one’s ethnicity when the Ottoman Empire dissolved after World War I.
Turkey is a secular state without an official religion following the constitutional amendment in 1924. Islam is the largest religion in Turkey. Over 99% of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni.
Turkish is the official language of the country and is the mother tongue for approximately 90% of the population of the country. Approximately 12% of people of Kurdish origin speak Kurdish. A small number of people also speak Arabic, English, German and French.
Turkey HR at a Glance
Labor laws in Turkey apply to Turkish and foreign nationals. Turkey’s labor framework is derived from:
- Turkish Constitution
- Turkish Labor Code (No. 4857)
- Turkish Code of Obligations (No. 6098)
- Social Insurance and General Health Insurance Code (No. 5510)
- Code of Work Permits for Foreigners
- Code on Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining
- Workplace Health and Safety Code
It is not mandatory to conclude a written employment contract. However, employee must be provided with a written document within two months of commencing employment specifying the terms of:
- The conditions of work
- Daily/weekly working hours
- Basic salary and any additions/deductions
- Frequency/date of salary payment
- Conditions of termination
If the parties to the employment relationship are Turkish, the written document must be in Turkish.
Written form contracts are required for:
- Fixed-term employment contracts
- Remote working contracts
- Team contracts
- Employees working in an artistic or intellectual capacity for news agencies/magazines
These employment contracts must state:
- Names employer and employee
- Start date of employment
- Expected duration of the contract
- Job title
- Brief description of the work
- Place of work
- Hours and days of work
- Notice period for termination
There is no distinction between “blue-collar” and “white-collar” employees in the labor laws of Turkey. The same general employment regulations apply to both types of employees. However, senior managers (considered employer’s representatives) cannot request overtime wages or employment security benefits, unless there is written instruction by the employer.
Employment contracts must generally be for an indefinite period.
There is no law in Turkey that specifically regulates conducting background checks on applicants. However, data protection provisions apply when carrying out these checks. In some cases, the applicant’s consent is required (e.g. if it is regarding the applicant’s health, criminal records or political views).
Third parties can conduct background checks on the employer’s behalf, provided the same data protection provisions are adhered to.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees undergo medical examinations that are relevant to the health and safety risks they may be exposed to in the workplace.
The employer must demand from the employee any supporting document to prove that he/she is in good shape to work for the role.
Probation Period / Trial Period
The duration of the probation period is two months. This is extendable for up to four months with the agreement of both employer and employee. During the probation period, the employee is not entitled to any benefits. If the employee needs to take leave, it will be considered unpaid.
Both the employer and the employee are free to terminate the employment contract during the probation period without notice. Alternatively, the payment of compensation in lieu of notice can be exercised.
The probation period must be considered as part of the employee’s period of continuous service with the employer.
The maximum working hours allowed in Turkey is 45 hours per week. Daily working hours cannot exceed 11 hours per day and there must be at least nine hours of consecutive rest between each work day. Employees must enjoy at least 24 hours of uninterrupted rest in a week. Otherwise, working hours can be distributed as required across the work week.
Rest breaks must be given in the following manner:
- 15 minutes for work lasting less than four hours
- 30 minutes for work lasting four to 7.5 hours
- One hour for work lasting more than 7.5 hours
Overtime cannot exceed 270 hours per year. If the employee performs more than 45 hours in a week, he or she must be compensated at 1.5 times the normal hourly rate. The employee has the choice to take 1.5 hours off work in lieu of payment for every one hour of overtime worked. If time off in lieu of payment is taken instead of accepting the overtime pay, the employee has six months from the date of performing the overtime to use this entitlement.
Pregnant/breastfeeding employees, employees under the age of 18 and employees whose health condition is determined to be unsuitable for overtime work cannot be asked to work overtime.
Health and Safety in the Workplace
An employer in Turkey is required to employ one or more medical professionals and set up a health unit to provide first aid, urgent treatment and preventive health services.
Bonus and 13th Month Pay
Bonus payments are not mandatory in Turkey. However, it is common to reward employees through contractual or discretionary bonuses subject to the employee’s or company’s performance.
An employment contract can be terminated if:
- A fixed-term contract has reached its expiration date
- There is agreement by both parties
- The termination is initiated by one of the parties
- The employee has passed away
If an employment relationship is terminated for just cause, the employer must terminate the employment within six working days from the date at which the conduct justifying the dismissal is discovered. There must be a written letter stating the grounds for termination and the employee must be allowed to present his or her written defense.
For a termination without just cause, the requisite notice period must be given and compensation must be paid.
The definition of a collective dismissal depends on the size of the workforce in the company:
- 20-100 employees: dismissal of at least 10 employees within one month
- 101 and 300 employees: dismissal of at least 10% within one month
- >300 employees: dismissal of at least 30 employees within one month
Employers who must dismiss employees collectively for economic, business or structural reasons have to inform the workplace union representative and the Turkish Employment Agency in writing at least 30 days in advance.
For indefinite term contracts, the notice period depends on duration of employment as follows:
- Less than 6 months – 2 weeks notice
- 6-18 months – 4 weeks notice
- 18-36 months – 6 weeks notice
- >36 months – 8 weeks notice
The employer has a right to terminate the employment agreement immediately by paying the corresponding salary in lieu of the notice period.
Redundancy / Severance Pay
Severance pay is calculated by considering the amount of one month’s gross wage and additional benefits for each year worked by the employee. Regardless of the wage of the employee, severance pay cannot exceed a certain threshold determined by the government (TRY19,982.83 for 2023).
The employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year to be entitled to severance pay. The payment must be prorated for periods of service that are less than a full year.
Severance pay is not required if there is just cause for termination (e.g. due to the employee’s health or dishonorable conduct).
Post-Termination Restraints / Restrictive Covenants
Post-employment restrictive covenants can be agreed on between the employer and the employee. A restriction can be regulated within the employment contract or by a separate agreement but it has to be in written form. A restrictive covenant can only be in place for a maximum of two years and must be limited in geographical scope and area of activity. A restrictive covenant can only be imposed on an employee who was in a position to obtain confidential information on the commercial activities of the employer.
Fixed Term Contracts
Fixed-term contracts are permitted only if specific conditions are fulfilled (completion of a certain job or occurrence of a certain event). Such contracts are terminated at the expiration date without notice. Other than this difference, employers have to offer equal terms to employees regardless if they are on a fixed-term or indefinite term contracts.
Renewing a fixed-term employment contract will change the status to indefinite term. Notice period requirements will then apply.
The personal data protection framework in Turkey is set out in the Personal Data Protection Law numbered 6698 (“KVKK”). Employers in the position of being data controllers are obliged to inform employees and potential hires in accordance with Article 10 of the KVKK.
This includes informing employees and potential hires about:
- The employer’s identity or the identities of its representatives
- The legal reason and purpose for processing personal data
- If personal data will be transferred (to whom and for what reason)
- the channels where personal data is collected
- the legal rights of the data subject under the KVKK
Tax and Social Security
Personal Income Tax
Turkey has a cumulative income tax system that follows the tax year (which follows the calendar year) and the applicable tax rate is based on the year-to-date cumulative income tax base. Therefore, the tax rate will increase throughout the year as the employee’s cumulative income tax base increases.
Foreign nationals who are residents in Turkey are subject to taxation based on the entire income and profit they earn both inside and outside of Turkey. This includes individuals whose residence is registered in Turkey and individuals who stay in Turkey for a continuous period of six months in a calendar year. If the foreign national is already subject to income tax on his or her employment income earned in Turkey in another jurisdiction – and that jurisdiction has a double taxation agreement signed with Turkey – the terms of that treaty will apply to avoid the double taxation of employment income.
Income tax is charged on employment income at progressive tax rates. For 2023 ,these are as follows:
|Income Brand||Tax Rate %|
|Up to TRY 70,000||15.0|
|TRY 70,000 – TRY 150,000||20.0|
|TRY 150,000 – TRY 550,000||27.0|
|TRY 550,000 of TRY 1,900,000||35.0|
Turkey’s Social Security Fund Insurance provides employees with insurance coverage for sickness, unemployment, disability and maternity care. It also covers pension and work-related accidents and diseases. All employees are eligible to enroll and will be able to claim these benefits upon registration through social security.
If a foreign employee is not subject to social security payments in his or her home country, full contributions will generally be imposed in Turkey. Otherwise, there is an exemption from contribution for three months (or more if there is a social security treaty between his or her home country and Turkey).
For 2023, the social security ceiling amount is 75,060 TRY. This ceiling amount is updated annually according to the changes in the minimum wage (capped at 7.5 times the minimum wage.)
Employees below the age of 45 years are automatically enrolled into the Automatic Individual Pension System or ‘otomatik bireysel emeklilik sistemi’ (OTOBES), which are private pension schemes by the employer. A minimum 3% contribution of the employee’s gross salary is required.
|Employer (%)||Employee (%)|
|Social Security Insurance||15.5 – 20.5||14.0|
*Timely payment of social security premiums by the employer is a precondition for applying the employer discount of 5% (Incentive No. 5510.)
**The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.
Employees whose pay is calculated on an annual or monthly basis must be paid in Turkish currency at least once per month.
If the employer does not pay the employee within 20 days of the salary’s due date, the employee has a right to refrain from fulfilling their work obligations. This will not qualify as a strike.
An employer in Turkey must provide an official signed payslip, indicating the date of payment, pay period, additions to basic wages (overtime, commissions etc.), payments for weekly rest days and national holidays. It must also outline all deductions (e.g. taxes and social insurance contributions).
Timesheets and Record Keeping
The following Turkish laws regulate the retention of employees’ personnel records or records containing employees’ personal data:
- Social Security and General Health Insurance Law No. 5510 (Social Security Law), which requires employers to retain information in employee personnel files for ten years fr employee leaves the job (Article 86, Social Security Law).
- The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which requires employers to keep health-related employee files for 15 years.
Paid annual leave is a constitutional right in Turkey. Even with the employee’s consent, it is not possible to waive this right and pay the employee in lieu of taking annual leave. The annual leave entitlement depends on duration of employment by the same employer:
- <1 year: no paid annual leave
- 1-5 years: 14 days
- 5-15 years: 20 days
- >15 years: 26 days
Employees are entitled to a maximum of one week paid sick leave supported by a medical certificate. It is possible to extend the sick leave on an unpaid basis. Employers have the right to terminate the employment contract when an employee’s sick leave exceeds six weeks.
Compassionate and Bereavement Leave
Employees are granted three days of paid leave in the event of the death of a first-level relative (parents, spouse, child, grandchild, siblings and grandparents).
Maternity & Parental Leave
A pregnant employee is entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, which is to be taken eight weeks before birth and eight weeks after. In case of a multiple pregnancy, an extra two-week period is added to the eight weeks post-birth. During maternity leave, the employee receives two-thirds of the full salary from the Social Security Institution.
If the employee would like to work until delivery, a medical certificate must be submitted confirming there are no concerns regarding continuation of work. The employee will be able to work until three weeks prior to the expected date of delivery. The time spent working prior to delivery will be added to the period of maternity leave following the birth.
Other provisions apply:
- The employee will be granted leave with pay for periodic examinations during the pregnancy.
- By request, an employee can take unpaid maternity leave for six months.
- A male employee whose wife gives birth is entitled to five days of paid leave.
- One of the parents is allowed up to ten days’ paid leave in one year for the treatment of a child with at least 75% disability or chronic disease.
Nursing Care Leave
Female employees with children under the age of 1 are given 1.5 hours time off per day to breastfeed. The employee determines the hours and the intervals this time will be used and the period is treated as part of the daily working time with no reduction in wages.
Employees in Turkey are granted three days’ paid leave for their marriage. This allowance is valid only one time during their employment with the company.
Benefits to the Employee in Turkey
Social protection in Turkey is based on two components:
- Social Insurance: from employer and employee contributions
- Social Assistance and Social Services: non-contributory, government-funded
Turkey’s social security scheme is composed of the following branches:
- Long-term insurance (including old age pension plan)
- Invalidity and death
- short-term insurance branch (covering work accident and occupational disease, health and maternity).
The Turkish Employment Agency governs unemployment insurance, which is responsible for administering unemployment benefits. This is paid out to employees if they:
- Became unemployed not due to their own negligence
- Worked for the 120 days prior to termination
- Have paid at least 600 days of unemployment benefit contribution in the past three years prior to becoming unemployed
- Have applied to the Turkish Employment Agency within 30 days of becoming unemployed
Foreign nationals are eligible for unemployment insurance if there is reciprocity between Turkey and their home countries.
The amount of an employee’s pension depends on various criteria, such as the initial date of insurance (first date of employment in entire work life), duration of insurance and the amount of contributions paid.
- Marriage and birth of child benefits
- Child allowance
- Private health insurance/ private pension scheme
- Meal allowance/tickets
- Service vehicle
- Electricity, natural gas, and similar heating allowances. Note that such payments by the employer can benefit from social security premium exemption under certain conditions.
Visas and Foreign Workers
Foreign nationals must have a work visa and a work permit before starting work in Turkey. The Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Turkey and Social Security grants the work permit. However, the work permit is not valid without a work visa.
The work permit should be processed by the employer in Turkey whereas the employee should submit a work visa application in the embassy of the Republic of Turkey in his or her home country.
A company’s paid-in capital must be at least TRY100,000 in order to hire foreign employees. Foreign employees cannot constitute more than 20% of the total number of employees (this rule does not apply to businesses operating in the entertainment and travel sectors). Foreigners are prohibited from employment in certain professions (e.g. dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, nursing, attorneyship and notaryship).
There are four types of work permits in Turkey:
- A temporary work permit is usually valid for a maximum of one year
- A permanent work permit is for foreigners who are granted a long-term resident permit or who have at least eight years of legal work permit. The permanent work permit provides all the benefits of a long-term residency permit.
- An independent work permit is issued to foreigners who have been living in Turkey continuously for at least five years.
- The Turquoise Card is a special work permit for exclusive employees who have highly sought after skills and experience and can contribute to the technology and economy of Turkey.
The employer needs to submit the below documents for application of a work permit:
- Work permit application letter
- Foreign personnel application form
- Current shareholding and capital structure of the entity hiring the foreign personnel
- Most recent financial statements (certified by a certified public accountant or tax office)
- Power of attorney for the person filing the online application on behalf of the entity
Once filed, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security takes a maximum of 30 days to come up with a decision. The foreign national must enter Turkey within 180 days once the work permit is issued.
The temporary work permit can be extended up to two times. It is possible to work for up to six years on a temporary work permit, provided the extension is evaluated positively by the Ministry. The foreign personnel must also work for the same employer throughout the period of the work permit.
Public Holidays in 2023
|1||New Year’s Day||01.Jan.2023|
|2||Ramadan Feast Eve (Tentative Date)||20.Apr.20231|
|3||Ramadan Feast (Tentative Date)||21-22.Apr.2023|
|4||National Sovereignty and Children’s Day||23.Apr.2023|
|5||Labor and Solidarity Day||01.May.2023|
|6||Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day||19.May.2023|
|7||Sacrifice Feast Eve (Tentative Date)||27.Jun.20231|
|8||Sacrifice Feast (Tentative Date)||28.Jun.2023|
|9||Sacrifice Feast Holiday (Tentative Date)||29.Jun.2023 – 01.Jul.2023|
|10||Democracy and National Unity Day||15.Jul.2023|
- Half Day
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