Law No. 7252 on the Establishment of Digital Platforms Commission and Amendment of Certain Laws was published in the Official Gazette No. 31199 on 28 July 2020 ("Law").
In addition to various other regulations, the Law (i) brings new exceptions to the termination ban for employment agreements, (ii) regulates that the termination ban and unpaid leave periods can be extended until 30 June 2021, (iii) re-regulates the President's existing authority to extend the short-term working system, (iv) sets forth support for social security premiums for certain workplaces, and (v) postpones the effective date of the obligation to appoint a workplace doctor and an occupational safety expert, for workplaces with less than 50 employees and that are classified as less hazardous.
What Does the Law Regulate?
Prohibition of Termination and Unpaid Leave
For a period of three months starting from 17 April 2020, employers were prohibited from terminating any kind of employment or service agreements (i.e., labor service), regardless of whether the agreement was covered by the Labor Law No. 4857 ("Labor Law"), except for terminations arising from the employee's behavior contrary to the rules of ethics and goodwill and similar cases in section (II) of the first paragraph of Article 25 of the Labor Law and the respective provisions of other laws. It was also regulated that the employer, completely or partially, could send an employee on unpaid leave during the termination prohibition and the President was granted authorization to extend the three-month period up to a total of six months. The termination prohibition and the employers' option to send their employees on unpaid leave during such period was, afterwards, extended until 17 August 2020.
The Law has regulated new exceptions to the prohibition of termination and has given the President authority to extend the period of the prohibition. In this respect:
- The President has been authorized to extend the periods of the prohibition of termination and unpaid leave until 30 June 2021, each time at an interval of three months.
- Expiry of the term in fixed-term employment or service agreements, closure of the workplace for any reason and termination of the workplace's activities, termination of the work in service procurements and construction works conducted in accordance with the relevant legislation, have been added among the exemptions from the prohibition of termination.
The above-stated regulations entered into force on 28 July 2020.
Short-term Working Allowance
With Law No. 7226 on Amendments to Certain Laws amending Law No. 4447 on Unemployment Insurance, conditions for benefiting from short-term working allowance were facilitated and the President was authorized to extend the period for short-term working allowance application until 31 December 2020, in general, for all business lines.
The Law has re-regulated the aforementioned authority of the President. In this respect, the Law has given authority to the President to extend the application period for the short-term working allowance due to COVID-19, and/or the period from benefiting from the short-time working allowance, until 31 December 2020, either for certain business lines or for all business lines in general.
The above-stated regulations entered into force on 28 July 2020.
Social Security Insurance Premium Support
The Law has regulated that social security insurance premium support will be provided in case (i) private sector workplaces, which had applied for short-term working before 1 July 2020 and where employees, who benefit from short-term working allowance work, cease the short-term working and return to their regular weekly working hours, and (ii) employees, for whom the employer had applied for cash fee support before 1 July 2020 and who have been benefiting from such support, return to their regular weekly working hours.
In this respect, for a period of three months, and in any case until 31 December 2020, respective employers will be provided with social security insurance premium support from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Accordingly, the employer and employee's social security premium share, calculated based on the minimum statutory salary amount, will be deducted from the monthly social security premium payments to be made by employers to the Social Security Institution.
If it is identified that the employer benefited from the short-term working allowance without any justified grounds, or if the outcome of the compliance review for the short-term working application is negative, or if it is identified that the employer benefited from the cash fee support without any justified grounds, the workplace will not be able to benefit from the support provided from the Unemployment Insurance Fund or will be deemed to have benefited from it without any justified grounds. If it is identified that the employer benefited from the support without any justified grounds, the amount of the support provided to the employer will be collected from the employer, along with penalties for delay and increases for delay.
Employers benefiting from the support regulated in the Law will not be able to benefit from other insurance premium discounts, incentives and supports for the same individuals and for the month in which they have benefited from support regulated in the Law. In addition, the employer cannot be requested to pay the employee the amount of the support it receives from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which corresponds to the employee's share of the social security premiums.
The above-stated regulations will enter into force on 1 August 2020.
Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331 sets forth various obligations for employers, depending on the hazard classification of the workplaces and the number of employees working in the workplaces. With the Law, the effective date of the obligation to appoint a workplace doctor and an occupational safety expert for workplaces with less than 50 employees and which are classified as less hazardous, has been postponed from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2023.
The above-stated regulations entered into force on 28 July 2020, to be effective as of 1 July 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic substantially affected Turkey and the Turkish employment practice. In this respect, certain steps are continued to be taken in order to assist employers and to protect employees. We recommend employers monitor all developments as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.
Originally published 29 July 2020.
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