Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Data on Turkish employment: a-typical work is a rarity but very a-typical work is widespread

In most European countries, the standard, typical employment relation is a full-time employment with a contract for an undetermined period. Nevertheless, due to market and societal pressures, more and more employees are being employed in what is called an ‘a-typical work contract’. These work contracts diverge from the standard and take the form of short-term contracts, agency work, part-time work or other forms. In many European countries, legislators changed regulation in order to increase the use of these type of contracts as they would make the European labour markets more ‘flexible’.

Also Turkey changed its legislation in 2003 with the enactment of a new labour code. A direct objective of this regulative change was making the labour market more flexible (Dereli, 2012). The Turkish labour unions nevertheless participated in the establishment of the 2003 labour code with as a primary objective to fight against the flexibilization of the labour market. As a result, the 2003 labour code is a difficult compromise between flexibility and security (Dereli, 2012).

But what about the situation on the field? Building on the Eurostat data, we can see that the use of both temporary and part-time employment contracts in Turkey lies well below the eurozone average (figure one). Over the years, the share of part-time employment contracts is rising, while the use of temporary contracts is relatively stable.

Temp & Part

From these figures it seems like the objective of creating a ‘flexible labour market’ was not met. Yet, these figures are only based on the formal employment, the registered employees. Employees which are not registered and work in the informal sector are therefore not included in these statistics. These employees nevertheless have so-called ‘very a-typical contracts’ or no contracts at all. Figure two shows the estimations of the share of unregistered workers from the Turkstat and the ILO. While the estimation is very different depending on the source, the overall image is striking: informal employment is a huge problem in the Turkish labour market.

Furthermore, there’s no significant difference in the pre-2003 and post-2003 period. The new labour code thus didn’t result in a significant decrease of the use of informal employment. Rigid labour legislation is nevertheless frequently mentioned as one of the sources of a large informal labour market in Turkey.


The conclusions of these two figures are significantly different. From the first figure we would conclude that a-typical work is a relative rarity in Turkey and that most employees are employed standard, full-time and permanent contracts. The second figure nevertheless shows that while a-typical work might be a rarity, ‘very a-typical’ work is a widespread.

Publication date: 20/03/2013


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This entry was posted on March 20, 2013 by in Safety at work, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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