Turkey: Whistleblowing Under Turkish Law

What is Whistleblowing?

The definition of "whistleblowing" in the Thesaurus of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is: "The reporting by employees or former employees of illegal, irregular, dangerous or unethical practices by employers."1 To protect both private and public-sector whistleblowers from occupational harm such as dismissal, suspension, demotion, forced or refused transfers, ostracism, reprisals, threats, or petty harassment, an increasing number of countries are adopting legislation on whistleblowing procedures.2 The global corruption-monitoring organization Transparency International has described whistleblowing as a 4-stage process3:

  1. First, a triggering event occurs, involving questionable, unethical, or illegal activities, and this leads an employee to consider "blowing the whistle";
  2. Second, the employee engages in decision-making, assessing the activity and whether it involves wrongdoing, gathering additional information, and discussing the situation with others;
  3. Third, the employee exercises voice by blowing the whistle; alternatively, the employee could exit the organization, or remain silent out of loyalty or neglect;
  4. Fourth, organization members react to, and possibly retaliate against, the whistleblower.

Usually, employees have the best access to information on illegal or unethical practices, and are usually the first to recognize wrongdoing. The overarching goals of whistleblowing legislation are to provide employees with a safe alternative to silence, and to empower employees to report wrongdoing by providing them with adequate legal protection.4

Regulatory Provisions on Whistleblowing

(i) UN Convention

Turkey ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption ("UN Convention") on 9 November 2006. Pursuant to Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, duly ratified international agreements have the force of law. In this respect, Article 33 of the UN Convention calls for adoption of national legislation for the protection from unjustified treatment of whistleblowers who report to the competent authorities – in good faith and on reasonable grounds – any facts concerning offences5 established under the UN Convention. However, no specific national regulations governing the procedure for whistleblowing have been adopted in Turkey to date.

(ii) ILO Convention

Turkey also ratified the ILO's Convention Concerning Termination of Employment at the Initiative of the Employer, numbered C158 ("ILO Convention"), on 4 January 1995, and the ILO Convention entered into force twelve months after its ratification was registered as law. Article 5 of the ILO Convention provides that the filing of a complaint or the participation in proceedings against an employer for violation of laws or regulations or recourse to competent administrative authorities should not constitute valid reasons for termination. Since the ILO Convention also has the force of law by virtue of its ratification, termination of employment as a form of retaliation against whistleblowers would violate the ILO Convention. A whistleblower whose employment is terminated as a form of retaliation is entitled to challenge such unjust termination before the competent labor courts in Turkey, and request compensation and/or restoration of his/her former employment.

(iii) OECD Guidelines

The government of Turkey is an adherent to the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD Guidelines"). The OECD Guidelines state that multinational enterprises should refrain from discriminatory or disciplinary action against employees who make bona fide reports to management or, as appropriate, to competent public authorities, on practices that contravene the law, the OECD Guidelines or the enterprise's policies.6 The OECD Report dated 7 December 2007 stated that Turkey should strengthen measures to protect whistleblowers in the public and private sectors from retaliation and retribution by their employers7.

(iv) Labor Law

Although no regulations focusing on whistleblowing have been adopted in Turkey, there are none that prevent legal entities from adopting internal whistleblowing regulations as part of their policies and procedures. Such internal regulations on whistleblowing may thus become a part of the terms and conditions of employment.

An article entitled "Good Practice in Whistleblowing Protection Legislation," issued by the Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, states: "In principle, a well run organization has an interest to know about potential wrongdoing with the view to correcting it. People are also more likely to report wrongdoings within an organization when there are appropriate and trusted structures in place that offer different reporting options for individuals and guarantee absolute confidentiality."8 It has also been our recent experience that most multinational enterprises investing in Turkey increasingly adopt whistleblowing procedures as an integral part of their employment terms and policies. These integral regulations are adopted under the employee handbooks, which form an integral part of the employment contracts.

Due to the lack of specialized national regulations on the issue, we refer to the general principles of law to set the limits of both internal and external disclosure. The legal conformity of the course of action whistleblowers follow will determine whether whistleblowers have acted in genuine good faith and honesty.

The basis for differentiating between what to disclose and what to keep confidential lies in the nature of the information. The Labor Law9 imposes a duty of loyalty on employees, and if the disclosure violates the principles of good faith and integrity, it will not be protected by the law and would constitute valid grounds for the employer to terminate the employment. Disclosure of the employer's professional or trade secrets would be an example of this kind.

The boundary between such duty and whistleblowing may not always be distinguishable. The duty of loyalty imposed on the employees cannot be used as cover for concealing violations and wrongdoings under applicable legislation. A person's failure to disclose criminal activity he/she knows of is an offense under the Turkish Penal Code. Accordingly, anybody who (i) is aware of a crime being committed, or a crime already committed, but (ii) has failed to disclose such situation to the authorities is subject to criminal sanctions. Even if the motive and type of problems for which the whistle is blown call for distinguishing between the duty to inform and whistleblowing, their functionality and the need for protection of the disclosers is similar. Hence, the whistleblowing procedures usually also cover the internal disclosure process for any type of corruption and/or harassment issue, which most of the time leads to internal disciplinary actions in addition to other applicable legal and criminal sanctions, such as fines, other security measures and even imprisonment.

The Need for Whistleblowing

Limiting the scope of whistleblowing protection to disclosures by employees of the public and/or private sector, as opposed to extending across-the-board protection to any member of the public, is justified by the fact that although members of the public can also experience reprisals if identified as whistleblowers, employees require stronger legal protection as their institutional connection to their employer makes them especially vulnerable.10

Whistleblowing protection is increasingly recognized as a key factor in promoting a culture of public accountability and integrity.11 Amongst other things, whistleblowing can be an act of free speech, an anti-corruption tool, or an internal dispute management mechanism.12 Barriers to whistleblowing, such as fear of retaliation and cultural mores, may be overcome through the ideal protective measures stipulated under the law, together with the internal guidelines adopted by the enterprise itself. The principles of corporate governance also value whistleblowing as the means for maintaining accountability and transparency for the management of enterprises.


1. ILO Thesaurus 2005, INFORM Bureau of Library and Information Services, International Labour Organization, http://www.ilo.org/public/libdoc/ILO-Thesaurus/english/tr2695.htm

2. Marie Chêne, Good Practice in Whistleblowing Protection Legislation (WPL), Anti-Corruption Resource Centre (1 July 2009), 2-6, http://www.u4.no/helpdesk/helpdesk/query.cfm?id=207

3. See Marcia P. Miceli and Janet P. Near, Blowing the Whistle: The Organizational and Legal Implications for Companies and Employees (New York: Lexington Books, 1992), cited in Terry Morehead Dworkin and Melissa S. Baucus, Internal v. External Whistleblowers: A Comparison of Whistleblowing Processes, 17 J. Bus. Ethics 1281-198 (1998).

4. Chêne, 2.

5. The offenses established under the UN Convention against Corruption are money-laundering, bribery of national public officials, bribery of foreign public officials, bribery in the private sector, trading in influence, embezzlement of property, laundering of the proceeds of crime, etc.

6. Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises issued by the OECD, Section II, General Policies, 14.

7. Turkey: Phase 2, Report on the Application of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and the 1997 Revised Recommendation on Combating Bribery in International Business Transactions, 7 December 2007.

8. Chêne, 5.

9. Law No. 4857, published in the Official Gazette dated 17 June 2003, numbered 25141.

10. Chêne, 2, 6.

11. Ibid., 1, 3, 5, 9-10.

12. David Banisar, Whistleblowing International Standards and Developments, Instituto De Investigaciones Sociales, UNAM, http://www.corrupcion.unam.mx/documentos/investigaciones/banisar_paper.pdf

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions