Hire in Turkey

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Last updated at June 20, 2022
aerial view of buildings and flying birds

Currency

Turkish Lira (TRY)

Capital

Ankara

Time Zone

GMT+3

Key Country Facts

Introduction

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, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Azerbaijan & Iran to the east, Iraq to the southwest, Syria and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west; and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest.

Area

Turkey covers an area of 783,562 square kilometres , 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.

Climate

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

Culture in Turkey is very diverse and is derived from the various cultures and traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia and Middle East. It is both traditional and modern, and cultural practices, social attitudes and lifestyles vary significantly across the country. Previously part of the Ottoman Empire, 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.

Religion

Turkey is a secular state with no official religion since the constitutional amendment in 1924. Islam is the largest religion in Turkey. Over 99% of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni.

Official Language

Turkish is the official language of the country, and is the mother tongue for ~90% of the population of the country, and 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

Employment Law

Employment law in Turkey applies to Turkish and foreign nationals. The main employment-related legislation applicable to both Turkish and Foreign Nationals are:

  • Turkish Constitution

  • Turkish Labour 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

Employment Contract

It is not mandatory to have a written employment contract. However, the 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

  • wages

  • hours and days of work

  • notice period for termination

Contract Terms

In the Turkish labour law, there is no distinction between “blue-collar” and “white-collar” employees. 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 written instruction by the employer.

Employment contracts must generally be for an indefinite period.

Pre-Employment Checks

There is no law that specifically regulates conducting background checks on applicants. However, the data protection provisions are applicable when conducting 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.

Probation Period / Trial Period

The duration of the probation period is two months, and 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 employer and employee are free to terminate the employment contract during the probation period without notice (or paying compensation in lieu of notice).

The probation period must be considered as part of the employee’s period of continuous service with the employer.

Working Hours

The maximum working hours allowed is 45 hours per week. Daily working hours cannot exceed 11 hours per day and there must be at least 9 hours of consecutive rest between each work day, but otherwise working hours can be distributed as required across the work week . Employees must be given at least 24 hours of uninterrupted right to rest in a week.

Rest breaks must be given in the following manner:

  • 15 minutes – for work lasting <4 hours

  • 30 minutes – for work lasting 4-7.5 hours

  • 1 hour – for work lasting >7.5 hours

Overtime

Overtime cannot exceed 270 hours per year. Where the employee above 45 hours per week, he/she must be compensated at 1.5 times the normal hourly rate. The employee has the choice to take one and a half hours off work in lieu of payment for every one hour of overtime worked. Where 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

The employer is obligated to employ one or more medical professional and set up a health unit to provide first aid, urgent treatment and preventive health services.

Bonus

It is not mandatory to pay out bonuses, but it is common to reward employees through contractual or discretionary bonuses that are subject to the employee’s or company’s performance.

Termination

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

Where an employment relationship is terminated for just cause, the employer must terminate the employment within six working days from the date from 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/her written defence.

For termination without just cause, the requisite notice period must be given and compensation must be paid.

Collective Redundancies

What constitutes 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 need to 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.

Notice Period

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 notice period.

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 government (TRY10.848,59 for 2022). The employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year to be entitled to severance pay, and payment must be pro-rated for periods of service that are less than a full year.

Severance pay is not required if there is just cause for termination, for example due to employee’s health or dishonourable conduct.

Post-Termination Restraints / Restrictive Covenants

Post-employment restrictive covenants can be agreed on between employer and employee, and can be regulated within the employment contract or by a separate agreement, but it has to be in written form. The restrictive covenants can be in place for a maximum of 2 years, and must be limited in geographical scope and area of activity. Restrictive covenants can only be imposed on employees who were in a position to obtain confidential information on the commercial activities of the employer.

Fixed Term Contracts

Definite term contracts are permitted only if specific conditions are fulfilled (completion of a certain job or occurrence of a certain event). Definite term 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, and notice period requirements will become applicable.

Data Protection

The personal data protection framework in Turkey is set out in the Personal Data Protection Law numbered 6698 (“KVKK”). Employers who are 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), where 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 their 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 their 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, and for 2022 these are as follows:

Income Brand Tax Rate %
Up to TRY 32,000 15.0
TRY 32,000 – TRY 70,000 20.0
TRY 70,000 – TRY 250,000 27.0
TRY 250,000 of TRY 880,000 35.0
>TRY 880,000 40.0

Social Security

The 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 enrol and will be able to claim these benefits upon registration with the social security.

If a foreign employee is not subject to social security payments in his/her home country, full contributions will generally be imposed in Turkey. Otherwise, there is an exemption from contribution for 3 months, or more if there is a social security treaty between his/her home country and Turkey.

For 2022, the social security ceiling amount is 37,530.00 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) ****private pension schemes by their employers and required to contribute a minimum 3% of their gross salaries.

Employer (%) Employee (%)
Social Security Insurance 15.5 – 20.5 14.0
Unemployment Insurance 2.0 1.0

*Timely payment of social security premiums by the employer is a pre-condition for applying the employer discount of 5% (Incentive No. 5510.)

**The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.

Employees

Salary Payment

Employees whose pay is calculated on an annual or monthly basis must be paid at least once per month, in Turkish currency.

If the employer does not pay the employee within 20 days of its due date, the employee has a right to refrain from fulfilling their work obligations and this will not qualify as a strike.

Payslip

The employer must provide an official signed slip, indicating the date of payment, pay period, additions to basic wages (overtime, commissions etc.), payments for weekly rest days and national holidays, and all deductions (taxes, social insurance contributions).

Timesheets and Record Keeping

The following Turkish laws regulate retention of employee personnel records or records containing employee 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 after the employee departs (Article 86, Social Security Law). The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (in Turkish), which requires employers to keep health-related employee files for 15 years.

Annual Leave

Paid annual leave is a constitutional right – 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

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to a maximum one week paid sick leave supported by a medical certificate. It is possible to extend sick leave on an unpaid basis. For sick leave that exceeds six weeks, employers have the right to terminate the employment contract.

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, grandparents).

Maternity & Parental Leave

A pregnant employee is entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, 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 the 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 confirming that there are no concerns regarding continuation of work must be submitted. The employee will be able to work until three weeks prior to the expected date of delivery, and the time spent working prior to delivery will be added to the period of maternity leave following the birth.

The employee shall be granted leave with pay for periodic examinations during the pregnancy.

An employee can request and take unpaid maternity leave for six months.

A male employee whose wife gives birth is given 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 one are given 1.5 hours time off per day to breastfeed their children. The employee determines the hours and the intervals that this time will be used, and this is treated as part of the daily working time with no reduction in wages.

Marriage Leave

Employees are granted three days’ paid leave for their marriage, and this is valid only one time during their employment with the company.

Benefits to the Employee in Country Name

Statutory Benefits

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

The social security scheme in Turkey is composed of the following branches:

  • long-term insurance (old age pension plan)

  • invalidity and death

  • short-term insurance branch containing work accident and occupational disease, health and maternity.

The Turkish Employment Agency governs unemployment insurance, which is responsible for 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 (3) years prior to becoming unemployed

  • Have applied to Turkish Employment Agency within 30 days of becoming unemployed

Foreign nationals are eligible for this insurance if there is reciprocity between Turkey and their home countries.

The amount of the 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.

Other Benefits

  • Marriage & birth of child benefits

  • Child allowance

  • Private health insurance/ Private Pension Scheme

  • Meal Allowance/Tickets

  • Service vehicle

Visas and Foreign Workers

General Information

Foreign nationals must have a work visa and a work permit before starting work in Turkey. The Ministry of Labour of the Republic of Turkey and Social Security grants the work permit, but 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/her home country.

A company’s paid-in capital must be at least TRY100,000 in order to employ foreign employees, and 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 from prohibited from employment in certain professions e.g. dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, nursing, attorneyship, notaryship.

Work Permit

There are four types of work permits:

  • temporary work permit – usually valid for a maximum of 1 year
  • permanent work permit – for foreigners who are granted a long-term resident permit or who have at least 8 years of legal work permit. The permanent work permit provides all the benefits of a long-term residency permit
  • independent work permit – issued to foreigners who have been living in Turkey continuously for at least 5 years
  • Turquoise Card work permit – special work permit for exclusive employees who have highly sought after skills/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 Labour & Social Security takes a maximum of 30 days to come up with a decision. The foreign personnel must enter Turkey within 180 days once the work permit is issued.

The temporary work permit can be extended up to 2 times. It is possible to work for up to 6 years on a temporary work permit, but this is provided the extension is evaluated positively by the Ministry and the foreign personnel has to be working for the same employer throughout the period of work permit.

Public Holidays in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1. New Year Day January 1st
2. National Sovereignty and Children’s Day April 23rd
3. Labour Day May 1st
4. Ramazan Bayrami May 2nd – 4th
5. Youth & Sports Day May 19th
6. Kurban Bayrami Holiday July 8th – 12th
7. Democracy and Freedom Day July 15th
8. Victory Day August 30th
9. Republic Day October 29th

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