Turkey’s close proximity to Western and Eastern Europe and recent reforms to increase its ease of doing business make the country a popular destination for international expansion. What’s more, labor costs are a lot lower than in most European countries.
Working conditions in Turkey are also quite favorable for employers: With 45 hours, the working week in Turkey is longer than the average 40-hour week and the mandatory weekly rest period is only one day.
Fixed-term employment contracts with a duration of more than 1 year have to be concluded in writing. Indefinite employment contracts may also be concluded verbally but it is generally recommended to put a written agreement in place. Details to be specified in the agreement include:
- Identification of both parties
- Date of commencement (and employment duration for temporary contracts)
- Job description, duties and responsibilities
- Basic salary as well as other compensation or benefits
- Working hours
- Payment of wages
- Notice periods and conditions for employment termination
- Further general working conditions
An employee’s probationary period can’t be longer than 2 months – 4 months under certain circumstances and with a collective agreement in place.
Working Hours and Breaks
A normal working week in Turkey is 45 hours, with daily working hours being subject to the individual employment agreement. The employee’s regular working day shouldn’t be longer than 11 hours – excluding overtime.
The length of the lunch break depends on the length of the employee’s workday. For shifts of up to 4 hours, the lunch break is limited to 15 minutes. During shifts of up to 7.5 hours, employees must have a rest break of no less than 30 minutes and longer shifts must be interrupted for a full hour.
The weekly rest period should not be shorter than 24 hours.
Any hour worked on top of a 45-hour week is considered overtime and must be paid at a rate of 150 percent of usual wages. Employees are allowed to work 270 additional hours per year.
It is common for employers in Turkey to pay their employees either once or twice a month.
The (net) minimum wage is currently (2021) fixed at TRY 2,826 per month. The minimum gross salary for workers is TRY 3,577.50.
The length of the sick leave an employee is entitled to depends on his or her seniority. The minimum sick leave which must be granted is 6 weeks. If the employee is still unable to return to work after the sick leave is over, the employer has the right to end the employment relationship – while still respecting the notice period adequate for the employee’s seniority.
There is no legal obligation for employers to provide sick pay as the employment contract is suspended for the duration of the employee’s sick leave. However, employees who have made the necessary contributions receive statutory sickness benefits amounting to 50 percent – in case of hospitalization – or 66 percent of their normal wages – for outpatient treatment – starting with the 3rd day of sick leave.
Employers aren’t obliged to pay their employees a 13th salary.
Taxes and Social Security Contribution
Employees and employers in Turkey are subject to the following tax and social security contribution rates (as of 2021):
25% corporate tax rate
18% VAT (standard rate)
Individual income tax rates:
15% to 40% *
22.5% of employee’s salary:
11% disability, pension and life insurance
7.5% health insurance
2% short-term insurance
2% unemployment fund
15% of employee’s salary:
9% disability, pension and life insurance
5% health insurance
1% unemployment fund
* Income tax rates in Turkey are progressive with thresholds for the 2021 tax year being as follows:
Up to TRY 24,000: 15%
TRY 22,001 – TRY 53,000: 20%
TRY 53,001 – TRY 190,000: 27%
TRY 190,001 – TRY 650,000: 35%
Over TRY 650,000: 40%
An employee’s annual leave entitlement increases over the years. New employees start off with 14 paid vacation days. After 5 completed years of service, employees earn 20 paid days off. And after 15 years of working, PTO increases to 26 days.
Furthermore, employees don’t have to work on public holidays. There are 14 public holidays in Turkey.
Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave
Female employees can take up to 16 weeks of maternity leave – 8 weeks before and after giving birth. In case of multiple births, maternity leave can be extended to 18 weeks. Maternity benefits equaling two thirds of the mother’s usual wages are paid by the Turkish Social Security Institution.
After maternity leave has ended, the mother can request unpaid leave for a period of 6 months to nurse her child. Alternatively, she can ask her employer to reduce her working hours by 50 percent for a period of 60 days – 120 or 180 days for the 2nd and 3rd child, respectively. During this time, the employer only pays the employee for the hours she actually works. The difference to her normal salary is paid by her unemployment insurance.
Fathers can request 5 days of paternity leave.
There are no legal provisions for parental leave in Turkey.
Additional Leaves and Benefits
Further leave entitlements include:
- 3 days for employee’s own marriage
- 3 days for death of a close family member
In addition to employment termination by default – i.e. in case of a fixed-term contract – resignation and mutual agreement, the employment may be terminated due to one of the following reasons (non-exhaustive list):
- Redundancy and other business-related reasons
- Employee’s underperformance
- Gross misconduct such as fraud, negligence or dishonesty
- Long-term sickness
The length of the notice period depends on the employee’s seniority, with 2 weeks being the legal minimum.
- 2 weeks: 0 – 6 months of service
- 4 weeks: 6 – 18 months of service
- 6 weeks: 18 – 36 months of service
- 8 weeks: over 3 years of service
Please note that the given notice periods apply to both employer and employee.
Every employee who has worked for the employer for more than 1 year and who is terminated without cause can claim one month’s wages in severance pay for each year of service.
Hiring in Turkey?
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