Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Act. No 4857: The labour law

Enacted in 2003, the Turkish labour law (Act. No. 4857) regulates the individual employment relations between a employer and an employee. The law covers both the employment contract of blue- and white-collar employees, yet public service employees are excluded.

For an extensive review of the properties, content and discussion on the details of the law, we kindly refer to the part 1 of Dereli’s (2012) monograph ‘Labour Law in Turkey’ (link).

Some history:

Before the 2003 labour act, the employment relation in Turkey was regulated by the 1936 Act no. 3008, and subsequently by the 1971 Act No. 1475. Nevertheless, these laws were not fully in line with ILO conventions and EU acquis. Further, employers opposed the relatively rigid character of these old legislations and therefore, a revision of the law needed. In February 2001, the government, the employers’ organization (TISK) and workers’ organizations (DISK, Türk-Is & Hak-Is) agreed on the establishment of a ‘committee of academics’ which was to prepare a draft law. All parties choose a member of this 9 member committee. In June 2002, the committee finished a second draft of the law, the committee managed to reach consensus on most, yet not all, subjects treated in the law. The parliament finally approved the new labour act in June 2003.

Some important articles are:

  • Article 2: defining the concept of ’employee’, ’employer’, ‘establishment’ and other concepts
  • Article 4: excluding certain categories of workers from the application of this law. As such, sea and air transport employees, small scale agriculture enterprises, domestic workers, apprentices, sportsmen and some other categories are excluded from the application of the labour law.
  • Article 5: prohibiting any form of discrimination based on race, gender, political opinion, religion etc. Putting a border on discrimination between full-time and part-time employees and between permanent and temporary staff.
  • Article 7: defining and regulating the temporary employment contract.
  • Article 8: defining the ’employment contract’.
  • Article 17: on the termination of the employment contract.
  • Article 29: regulating collective dismissal.
  • Article 39: on the minimum wage.
  • Article 53: on the annual paid leave of employees.
  • Article 63-76: regulating the working time.
  • Article 77-89: regulating occupational health and safety

A English translation of the Turkish Labour Law can be found here.

Limitations of the law:

While the 2003 labour law is clearly a step forward on different aspects, the law certainly has its limitations. As such, large parts of the employees in Turkey are excluded from its application. Moreover, knowing that a large proportion of the workers in Turkey are employed in the informal economy (source), the impact of the law is reduced.

Further reading:

Dereli, T. (2012). Labour Law in Turkey. Aspen Pub.
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