The Supreme Court General Assembly on the Unification of Judgments recently concluded that penalty clauses agreed for the unjust termination of a fixed-term employment contract before its end date are valid and enforceable even if the contract is deemed to be of an indefinite nature due to a lack of objective conditions required by law to conclude fixed-term contracts.
Applying for mediation was recently made a prerequisite when filing a lawsuit concerning monetary claims by employees or employers arising out of employment contracts, collective labour agreements or reinstatement claims. Mandatory mediation was introduced to accelerate legal proceedings and lower the costs in employment disputes.
The Supreme Court recently found that the failure of employees to use appropriate language in their written workplace correspondence with superiors or colleagues constitutes a valid reason for termination. The court held that although the actions of the employee in question had not been serious enough to constitute just cause for termination and deprive him of his termination benefits, the employer could not be expected to continue the employment relationship.
Minimum wage, severance payments and administrative fines prescribed by the Labour Act are revised at the beginning of each calendar year. The minimum wage rate was recently increased to TL2,558.40 (gross) and the maximum severance payment was increased to TL6,017.60 (gross). In addition, the rate of administrative fines was increased by 23.73% compared with 2018.
The recently published Presidential Executive Decree 85 amended Decree 32 on the Protection of the Turkish Currency. In the field of employment law, it is unclear whether foreign nationals fall within the scope of the decree and how their salaries will be paid going forward. Since the decree uses the term 'Turkish residents', the general understanding is that it also applies to foreign employees, as they must have a residential address in Turkey in order to have a work permit.
The Supreme Court recently issued a number of decisions setting out how to calculate overtime pay and how employees can prove any overtime owed when required. Among other things, the decisions state that signed payslips can be used as material evidence. Further, where an employee has not signed a payslip and overtime payments have been made via bank transfer, the employee must prove that they worked the disputed overtime with documentary evidence.
The Supreme Court recently issued a decision concerning an employee's dismissal for borrowing money from their employer's customer. The Supreme Court reversed the first-instance labour court decision and ruled that the termination was lawful based on the fact that the employee had acted against the rule of integrity and honesty and damaged the employer's reputation.
The Labour Courts Act has introduced a number of changes and amended the appeal procedure for labour disputes. The legislature hopes to shorten the duration of actions which, by their nature, should be resolved as quickly as possible. Although it is still questionable whether these amendments will produce the anticipated returns in terms of reaching the desired duration for trial processes, they mark an important attempt to limit the two-phase appeal stage for certain cases.
The Amendment Act of August 25 2016 introduced the automatic enrolment of employees in private pension plans. As a result, employees under the age of 45 must be enrolled in a private pension plan as part of a pension agreement between their employer and a pension company. As the majority of employees have withdrawn from the system, the Ministry of Finance recently prepared a draft omnibus law which introduced new provisions regarding automatic enrolment in the private pension plan system.
Overtime in Turkey is regulated by the Labour Act and the Regulation on Overtime. Following criticism from legal scholars, the Regulation on Overtime was recently amended. The amendment has clarified that an employee's written consent for overtime can be obtained through an employment contract or during the employment relationship if needed. Therefore, obtaining employee consent at the beginning of each year is no longer required.
The Labour Courts Act, which was recently published in the Official Gazette, aims to ease the judiciary's workload and accelerate the judicial process in employment cases. The act has introduced a number of changes, the most important of which include mandatory mediation for employers and employees before initiating lawsuits, an amended procedure for reinstatement cases and a reduced statute of limitations of five years for several types of compensation.
The Supreme Court recently rendered an important decision concerning the protection of employees' privacy rights. The court reversed a first-instance labour court decision and ruled that the dismissal of an employee was unlawful on the grounds that the employer had used the employee's WhatsApp conversations (obtained in an impermissible way) as evidence, thus violating the employee's right to privacy.
The right of employees to annual paid leave is regulated by Articles 53 to 60 of the Labour Act and the Regulation on Annual Paid Leave. In principle, employees are expected to take their annual leave en bloc. Recent amendments to the act and the regulation maintain the right of employees to continuous rest, but provide flexibility to those who wish to divide their holidays into several parts in a given year.
The Supreme Court recently issued a decision concerning an employee's dismissal on the grounds of (among other things) recording a conversation with his supervisor without his consent. The court reversed a first-instance decision and ruled that the termination was lawful based on the fact that the employee had been handling personal business during working hours without authorisation and secretly recorded a conversation.
A long-awaited legal arrangement on employees' automatic enrolment in private pension plans by their employers was introduced into Turkish law by way of an amendment law published in 2016. The amendment law adds new provisions to the Private Pension Savings and Investment System Act 2001. Accordingly, employees under the age of 45 will be enrolled in a private pension plan with a pension agreement between the employer and a pension company.
The Ministry of Justice recently prepared a new draft Law on Labour Courts and shared it with the relevant public institutions and organisations for review. The draft law aims to ease the judiciary's workload and accelerate the judicial process in employment cases. The most important amendment stipulated in the draft law is the introduction of a mandatory mediation phase. If the draft law is adopted, it will be mandatory for employees to apply for mediation before initiating certain lawsuits.