Turkey: Monitoring Employees

I. Introduction

Employers are, within the scope of their managerial right, obliged to preserve the order in workplace and in consideration of that, employees are obliged to work diligently due to the duty of loyalty. In that respect, employers have the right to request from employees to abstain from spending non-work-related time in the workplace. Then again, employers' practices to that end cannot violate the right of privacy and freedom of communication. In order to avert such practices causing violations in that respect, certain stipulations are introduced, through the legislation and the precedents of Court of Appeals' to restrict employers' right to monitor employees. This article will examine such and its boundaries.

II. Employers' Right to Monitor

The notion of "dependence" is one of the integral elements lying in the core of employee - employer relationship. This notion is the defining element separating employment agreement from any other agreement that depends on performance of a work,[1] as one is considered to be an "employee" only if she/he depends on an employer. In that context, depending on employer means obligation to perform work in accordance with the employer's instructions and under its supervision and control[2], which is how the employer keeps the employee dependent on itself, by regulating the employee's activities, the way, time and place of work[3]. Such regulations are accepted to derive from employers' managerial right, by virtue of which employers are deemed to have the right to monitor employees as to whether instructions and orders are duly followed. Such monitoring can be conducted through various ways, e.g. monitoring of e-mail accounts, files or implementation of performance tests. That said monitoring of e-mail accounts and correspondences has the potential to bear personal information. The Court of Appeals' decision dated 13.12.2010 and numbered 2009/447 E., 2010/37516 K. [4] indicates that "employer is entitled to monitor employee's computers and e-mail accounts, thus the e-mail messages as well, that belong to workplace (employer) at all times". According to this, monitoring e-mail correspondences that can be found in a computer and an e-mail account that belongs to employer would not violate the right of privacy and freedom of communication, even if such correspondences concern employee's personal life as well.

Furthermore, per Court of Appeals' decision dated 17.03.2008 and numbered 2007/27583 E., 2008/5294 K. use of internet in workplace for personal purposes is forbidden unless employer gives consent to such use, explicitly or implicitly. Court of Appeals considers that there is implicit consent to personal use of internet in cases where personal use is spotted by employer but no actions were taken in that respect for at least six months. Yet this does not apply if employer has specifically prohibited personal use of internet, and in such case personal use of internet may lead to termination of employment agreement based on valid or rightful reason under Article 18 or 25 of Labor Law numbered 4857.  

Additionally, according to Courts of Appeals decision dated 28.05.2013 and numbered 2011/16044 E., 2013/16158 K., termination based on rightful reason due to MSN correspondences including insulting remarks about the employer and other employees in the workplace, which are determined upon monitoring the respective employee's computer, shall be deemed valid.

However there are restrictions to employers' such right, deriving from the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals for the purpose of preventing malicious use of the right to monitor employees and protecting the right of privacy and freedoms of communication.

III. Limitations of Employers' Monitoring Right

The constitutional rights and freedoms of employees cannot be restricted for the purpose of preserving the order in workplace. However, the constitutional rights and freedoms don't entitle employees to act in violation of the common morale rules in workplace. In other words, acting in violation against the common moral rules (or the criminal legislation) cannot be protected under the constitutional rights and freedoms. Employees are obliged to endure and abide by the control and monitoring done by employers within the scope of their right[5]. However, there should be a limit to employees' such obligation since employers' right to monitor cannot supersede the constitutional rights and freedoms. Then this raises the question of "to what extent monitoring falls under employer's managerial right and does not violate employees' constitutional rights and freedoms?", hence the following:       

i. Constitutional Restrictions

Monitoring employees has the potential to injure numerous constitutional rights and freedoms, mostly relating to privacy of personal information, private life and communication; therefore the scope of employees' constitutional rights and freedoms sets the boundaries of employers' right to monitor. In that context, monitoring of any sort that is in violation of those constitutional rights and freedoms shall be deemed illegal[6]. For instance, monitoring of phone calls is, under any circumstance, accepted to be a violation of employees' freedom of communication right. This is established in Court of Appeals' decision dated 31.10.2000 and numbered 2000/6487 E., 2000/9467 K. as follows:

"It is realized that the conversation that took place between two people is supposed to be private and pertains to private life of those people. Even if the conversation, given its context, is not supposed to be private, tapping telephone or broadcasting thereof is, in itself, a violation of private life. No persons' telephone can be tapped."

On those grounds, the employee subject to this decision, whose phone was tapped, was granted morale compensation.

That said, there are certain circumstances that supersede and restrict  the right of privacy and freedom of communication. These circumstances are stipulated to be necessities that national security, public order, prevention of crime and common health entail. Then again, even under those circumstances, there has to be a court order to restrict the constitutional rights[7].

ii. Statutory Law Restrictions

Employers' obligation to preserve employees' personality: Obligation to preserve employees' personality is stipulated under Article 417 of Turkish Code of Obligations numbered 6098 (the "CoO"):

"The employer shall be obliged to take proper measures necessary for the protection of the personality of the employee in the work relations and to show respect, to ensure an order in the workplace which is in conformity with the principles of honesty, especially to prevent psychological and sexual harassments to the employees and to prevent those who had been victims of such harassment from further damages.

The employer shall be responsible for taking all the measures required for ensuring work health and safety in the workplace, to keep the necessary equipment and materials completely, whereas the employees shall be responsible for following of all the measures taken for work health and safety.

The compensation of damages regarding the death, the impairment of the bodily integrity or breach of the private rights of the employee due to the conduct of the employer against the law and the contract, including the foregoing provisions, shall be subject to the provisions for responsibility originating from the breach of the contract.

This stipulation extends employers' obligation to preserve employees' by including "personality" in addition to bodily integrity and health. Employers' obligation to preserve employees' personal rights is arising from Article 2 of Turkish Civil Code numbered 4721, regulating the good faith principle[8]. For instance, body search on employees must be executed gently[9], otherwise, a body search damaging employees' personality, body or health shall be deemed illegal per Article 417 of the CoO.

iii. Contractual Restrictions

Employment agreement, or collective labor agreement, may include certain stipulations regulating the scope of employers' right to monitor. Then again, in any case, those stipulations must be in line with constitutional and statutory restrictions, otherwise such stipulations will be deemed null and void. Stipulating monitoring rights in employment agreements can be useful to precisely determine the limits of monitoring acts. 

IV. Conclusion

Per precedents of Court of Appeals, as explained above, employers are responsible for preserving order in their work places. Accordingly, employers are entitled to monitor employees' actions. That being said, monitoring shall not violate constitutional rights and freedoms. Even though phones, computers, internet etc. used in workplaces belong to employers, the right of privacy and freedom of communication cannot be restricted based on employers' responsibility to preserve order in workplace. Monitoring those mediums freely without any restriction may pose a risk for employers, unless specific stipulations are made under employment agreements with regard to how and to what extent such monitoring will be implemented. In any case, scope of monitoring must be determined diligently to avoid running across any personal information that is irrelevant to work to the extent that it is possible. This means that even in cases where monitoring is legally allowed, the scope thereof may render monitoring illegal.

[1] Sarper Süzek, İş Hukuku,  İstanbul 2014, Beta Yayınevi, p.219.

[2] Süzek, p.220.

[3] Süzek, p.220.

[4] www.kazanci.com In the relevant case, upon monitoring of work computers, e-mail correspondences slandering and insulting the employer are detected. Those correspondences are accepted to be just cause for termination and no severance and notice payment were made.

[5] Kenan Tunçomağ/Tankut Centel, İş Hukuku'nun Esasları, İstanbul 2005, s.100.

[6] Zeki Okur, İş Hukuku'nda Elektronik Gözetleme, Legal Kitapevi, Mart 2013, s.57.

[7] Okur, s.57, Penal Department no.9 of the High Court of Appeal's decision dated 04.06.2008 – and numbered 2008/74 E., 2008/22381 K.

[8] İlhan Ulusan, Özellikle Borçlar Hukuku ve İş Hukuku Açısından İşverenin İşçiyi Gözetme Borcu, Bundan Doğan Hukuki Sorumluluğu, İstanbul, 1992, s.4.

[9] Okur, s.69.

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 Video
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
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

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