Living and working in Turkey

30 Kovas 2022

  •   Population: 83 million (2021)
  •   Real GDP growth: 11.0% (2021)

Data source: Eurostat

Eurofound provides research, data and analysis on a wide range of social and work-related topics. This information is largely comparative, but also offers country-specific information for potential candidate countries.

Eurofound seeks to strengthen the ongoing link between its own work and national policy debates and priorities related to the quality of life and work – in Member States and in potential candidate countries. The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance programme 2014–2020 is an important tool that supports these countries in better preparing the implementation of public administration reforms, improving their economies and achieving the objectives set during the reform process. In this context, Eurofound country profiles offer a wealth of information on key components of working life in the enlargement countries.

2015 Eurofound EWCS survey results in Turkey: 64% of respondents can always or most of the time apply their own ideas at work 

Living in Turkey

Quality of life

Quality of life

Findings from Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) show that many of the indicators about quality of life in Turkey are below the EU28 averages. For instance, average life satisfaction in Turkey was 6.0 in 2016, lower than the respective EU28 average of 7.1 (on a scale of 1–10). Furthermore, the share of respondents feeling free to decide how to live their lives stood at 14% in Turkey in 2016, also lower than the EU28 average of 26%.

The share of people reporting difficulties in making ends meet has decreased substantially in Turkey during the period of observation. In 2003, 76% of respondents in Turkey reported difficulties in making ends meet, whereas this level fell to 46% in 2016, although still somewhat higher than the respective EU28 average of 39%.

Life satisfactionMean (1-10)
Taking all things together on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are?Mean (1-10)
Optimism about own futureAgree & strongly agree---59%
Optimism about children’s or grandchildren’s futureAgree & strongly agree---52%
Take part in sports or physical exerciseAt least once a week--18%21%
In general, how is your health?Very good-14%17%14%
WHO-5 mental wellbeing indexMean (1-100)-475658
Making ends meetWith some difficulty, difficulty, and great difficulty76%74%63%46%
I feel I am free to decide how to live my lifeStrongly agree- 24%14%
I find it difficult to deal with important problems that come up in my lifeAgree & strongly agree---39%
When things go wrong in my life, it generally takes me a long time to get back to normalAgree & strongly agree---39%

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

According to the EQLS, work–life balance is relatively low in Turkey in comparison to the EU28 average. Of all the surveyed countries, Turkey has the highest share of people experiencing two out of the three work–life balance related problems at least several times a month. Turkey has the highest number of respondents having difficulties to fulfil family responsibilities and also having difficulties to concentrate at work because of family responsibilities. In 2016, 80% of respondents in Turkey have come home too tired from work to do some of the household jobs which need to be done at least several times a month, compared with the EU28 average of 59%. Furthermore, 71% of respondents in Turkey said that it has been difficult to fulfil family responsibilities because of work at least several times a month in 2016, much higher than the EU28 average of 38%. Regarding the third work–life balance problem, some 60% of respondents in Turkey reported having difficulties to concentrate at work because of family responsibilities at least several times a month in 2016, again far above the EU28 average of 19%.

(At least several times a month)   
I have come home from work too tired to do some of the household jobs which need to be doneTotal54%67%73%80%
It has been difficult for me to fulfil my family responsibilities because of the amount of time I spend on the jobTotal50%53%60%71%
I have found it difficult to concentrate at work because of my family responsibilitiesTotal27%34%41%60%

Quality of society

Quality of society

The Social Exclusion Index score was 2.6 in Turkey in 2016, higher than the EU28 average of 2.1 (on a scale of 1–5 where a higher value means a higher incidence of social exclusion). Furthermore, only 5% of respondents in Turkey volunteered at least once a month in 2016, significantly lower than the EU28 average of 10%. Turkey also had the lowest share of respondents among all the surveyed countries who felt safe when walking alone after dark, at 13% in 2016 versus the significantly higher level of 35% in the EU28.

However, average trust in people in Turkey stood at 5.3 in 2016, which was slightly above the EU28 average of 5.2 (on a scale of 1–10). Additionally, only 25% of respondents in Turkey perceived a lot of tension between poor and rich people in 2016, which was lower than the EU28 average of 29%.

Social exclusion indexMean (1-5)
Trust in peopleMean (1-10)
Involvement in unpaid voluntary work% "at least once a month"--4%5%
Tension between poor and rich people% reporting 'a lot of tension'
Tension between different racial and ethnic groups% reporting 'a lot of tension'
I feel safe when I walk alone after darkStrongly agree---13%

Quality of public services

Quality of public services

Quality ratings for seven public services

Note: scale of 1-10, Source: EQLS 2016.

The perceived quality of many public services in Turkey was similar to the EU28 averages, and some were perceived to be better than on average in the EU. For instance, the perceived quality of the state pension system in Turkey stood at 6.1 in 2016, higher than the EU28 average of 5.0 (on a scale of 1–10). Furthermore, the quality rating for social housing in Turkey was 6.4 in 2016, also higher than the EU28 average of 5.6.

The quality ratings for the seven public services examined in the EQLS have also increased in Turkey during the period of observation. For example, the perceived quality of health services improved constantly between all the survey years, from 3.9 in 2003 to 6.9 in 2016, also rising slightly above the EU28 average of 6.7. Moreover, the perceived quality of the education system increased from 4.5 in 2003 to 6.4 in 2016.

Health servicesMean (1-10)
Education systemMean (1-10)
Public transportMean (1-10)
Childcare servicesMean (1-10)-
Long-term care servicesMean (1-10)--6.56.3
Social housingMean (1-10)--6.36.4
State pension systemMean (1-10)

Working life in Turkey


  • Autorius: Banu Uçkan Hekimler
  • Institution: Anadolu University
  • Published on: Ketvirtadienis, Birželis 27, 2019

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Turkey. It aims to complement other EurWORK research by providing the relevant background information on the structures, institutions and relevant regulations regarding working life. This includes indicators, data and regulatory systems on the following aspects: actors and institutions, collective and individual employment relations, health and well-being, pay, working time, skills and training, and equality and non-discrimination at work. The profiles are updated regularly.

Key figures

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Turkey




Percentage (%) or percentage point (pp) change

GDP per capita

58 PPS

64 PPS*


Unemployment rate – total



+2.5 pp

Unemployment rate – women



+3.6 pp

Unemployment rate – men



+1.1 pp

Unemployment rate – youth



+4.9 pp

Employment rate – total



+4.6 pp

Employment rate – women



+5.7 pp

Employment rate – men



+3.2 pp

Employment rate – youth



+5.8 pp

Note: *2016 data. Purchasing power standards (PPS), is an artificial currency unit calculated by Eurostat. In theory, 1 PPS can buy the same amount of goods and services in every country and therefore more readily allows comparisons to be made.

Source: Eurostat [tec00114] and TÜİK data for 2012, 2016 and 2017.



Economic and labour market context

In April 2018 the European Commission adopted its annual Enlargement Package assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy which is based on established criteria and fair and rigorous conditionality. The current enlargement agenda covers the partners of the Western Balkans and Turkey. Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014) and Turkey (2005). North Macedonia has been a candidate country since 2005 and Albania obtained candidate status in 2014. Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

Turkey has a population of slightly more than 80 million, half of whom are under the age of 30. Employment rates were 78.2% for men and 37.5% for women in 2017, having increased from 75% and 31.8% respectively. The total unemployment rate in 2017 increased to 10.9% and remained significantly higher for women at 14.4%. Youth unemployment rose to 20.7% in 2017, with almost one-third of all young people not in employment, education or training. As of May 2019, marked regional disparities persist in employment. State subsidies (reduction in social security contributions and tax exemptions) for employers recruiting additional young or female employees were extended to December 2020.

Legal context

The Turkish Constitution of 1982 provides a general framework for individual and collective labour law in Turkey in Articles 48–55 and 60–62. There are three major pieces of legislation on labour relations: the Labour Act No. 4857, the Trade Unions and Collective Agreements Act (TUCAA) No. 6356 and the Public Servant Unions and Collective Agreements Act (PSUCAA) No. 4688.

The Labour Act, adopted in 2003, provides the most fundamental and comprehensive regulation of individual labour relations and labour contracts. In 2016 and 2017, a number of amendments were made to the act. In 2016, private employment agencies were authorised to provide temporary workers, remote working was introduced and some new rights were provided to mothers, parents and people adopting a child. From the beginning of 2018, it became mandatory to apply for mediation in legal actions brought by employees concerning their rights arising from statute, the contract of employment, collective agreement or for their reinstatement before filing the lawsuit.

Industrial relations context

Industrial relations in Turkey are characterised by low union density, decentralised collective bargaining and hostile labour–employer and labour–state relations. As a result of statist economic policy in the early years of the Turkish Republic, the state became the leading actor in industry and the biggest industrial employer, adopting various acts to regulate both individual and collective labour relations. Labour rights gained in Europe through intense struggle were conferred unilaterally in Turkey by the state, without the involvement of workers or employers. This, in turn, led to in-depth legislation that does not exist in other European countries. However, the legislation restricts union rights and contradicts most conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Following the failed army coup of 15 July 2016, a state of emergency was declared for three months; as of May 2019, it has been renewed seven times. Two trade union confederations – Aksiyon-İş (for workers) and Cihan-Sen (for public servants) and their 19 affiliated unions comprising some 50,000 members – were closed by decree in 2016 on grounds of allegedly supporting the coup. Five strikes in four different sectors (metal, banking, glass and chemicals) were deferred in 2017 and a strike involving 130,000 workers in the metal sector and its accompanying lockout was deferred in January 2018. Following the strike postponement at Soda Kromsan in May 2018, the strike at İzban, a commuter rail system connecting the western province of İzmir’s suburban area to its metropolitan area, was also deferred, just before the local elections in 2019.

Actors and institutions

Actors and institutions

Trade unions, employers’ organisations and public institutions play a key role in the governance of the employment relationship, working conditions and industrial relations structures. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes the European, national, sectoral, regional (provincial or local) and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Turkey.

Public authorities involved in regulating working life

The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services (MFLSS) is the main public authority regulating the world of work. The major labour market institutions related to the MFLSS are the Social Security Institution (SGK) and the Employment Organisation (İş-Kur). The SGK aims to provide modern standards of social insurance and universal health insurance to all individuals. İş-Kur is the main institution for labour placement. It is also responsible for increasing employment, reducing unemployment, implementing the unemployment insurance scheme and facilitating employment opportunities for disabled people and former prisoners in the private and public sectors (which are obliged to employ a certain number of disadvantaged persons).

The Labour Inspectorate is also the responsibility of the MFLSS. Its main tasks are to supervise, inspect and follow up on working conditions. There are two types of inspectors: social inspectors supervise the implementation of and compliance with the working condition provisions of the Labour Act, and technical inspectors supervise the occupational, health and safety conditions.

The labour courts in Turkey handle labour law cases – that is, disputes arising from the relationship among employers, workers and trade unions. The new Labour Courts Act No. 7036, implemented in 2017, introduced mandatory mediation in disputes related to employer or worker receivables and compensation and reinstatement claims arising from law, labour or collective labour contracts. Compensation claims arising from occupational diseases and work accidents are not subject to compulsory mediation.

Trade unions

About trade union representation

According to Article 17 of the TUCAA , any person aged at least 15 years old and who is considered a worker may join a trade union. According to Article 17 of the TUCAA and Article 14 of the PSUCAA membership in a trade union is optional; no one shall be forced to be a member. Trade unions can only be established on an industrial (economic activity) basis; occupational/craft and establishment-based unions are implicitly prohibited. There are two types of trade unions in Turkey, each of which is divided into rival confederations with significant political and policy differences. The first includes unions organising mainly blue-collar employees under the jurisdiction of the Labour Act and operating on the basis of the TUCAA. They are commonly known as labour unions ( işçi sendikaları). The second type involves unions organising public servants who are under the jurisdiction of the Public Servants Act No. 657 and operating on the basis of the PSUCAA. They are called public servant unions (memur sendikaları).

There are more than 100 labour unions, most of which are affiliated to five divergent and rival labour confederations (Türk-İş, DİSK, Hak-İş, Tüm-İş and Birlik-İş). Confederations do not have the competence to conclude collective agreements. The oldest, largest labour confederation is the centrist Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş). The left-wing (formerly Marxist and militant) Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) and the conservative (formerly Islamic and religious) Confederation of Righteous Trade Unions of Turkey (Hak-İş). These three labour confederations are members of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). Tüm-İş and Birlik-İş were founded in 2015 and 2017 respectively, but they represent a minority of workers. There are 1.859.038 unionised workers and the union density rate was 12.18% in 2017, 12.38% in 2018 and 13.86% in January 2019.

There are also more than 100 public servant unions, most of which are affiliated to one of nine rival public servant union confederations:

  • the Confederation of Public Servant Trade Unions (Memur-Sen)
  • the Confederation of Civil Servants Trade Union of Turkey (Türkiye Kamu-Sen)
  • the Confederation of Public Employee Trade Unions (Kamu Emekçileri Sendikaları Konfederasyonu, KESK)
  • BASK
  • Birleşik Kamu-İş
  • Hak-Sen
  • Çalışan-Sen
  • Tüm Memur-Sen
  • Anadolu-Sen

The dominant unions among these are Memur-Sen, Türkiye Kamu-Sen and KESK. Memur-Sen is a conservative confederation, which has close relations with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Türkiye Kamu-Sen emerged as a confederation with a right-wing and nationalistic perspective but shifted to a less pro-government position after the outstanding growth of Memur-Sen (although its ideological principles have remained constant). KESK, a driving force behind the creation of a legal framework for public servant unions, is critical of government policy. Only KESK is a member of the ITUC and the ETUC. There are 1,684,323 unionised public servants and the union density rate was 71.64% in 2016, 69.28% in 2017 and 67.65% in July 2018. Public servant confederations may sit at the collective bargaining table.

Main trade union confederations, 2019

Long name



Involved in collective bargaining?

Türkiye İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Hak İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Türkiye Devrimci İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Birleşmiş İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Tüm İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Source: MFLSS

Main public servant union confederations, 2018

Long name



Involved in collective bargaining?

Memur Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Türkiye Kamu Çalışanları Sendikaları Konfederasyonu

Türkiye Kamu-Sen



Kamu Emekçileri Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Birleşik Kamu İşgörenleri Sendikaları Konfederasyonu

Birleşik Kamu-İş



Tüm Memur Sendikaları Konfederasyonu

Tüm Memur-Sen



Çalışanlar Birliği Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Bağımsız Kamu Görevlileri Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Kamu Çalışanları Hak Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Anadolu Eksen Kamu Çalışanları Sendikaları Konfederasyonu




Source: MFLSS

Employer organisations

About employer representation

According to the TUCAA, employer organisations must be constituted on an industrial basis by employers in the same branch of activity (Article 3/I). However, public sector employer organisations do not have to be constituted by public employers in the same branch of activity (Article 3/II). The public sector employer organisations are Kamu-İş, Tühis and Miksen.

There is only one confederation of employer organisations, the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK). By 2019, only 20 employer organisations were members of TİSK. TİSK has representatives in the ILO, BusinessEurope, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (which represents the OECD business community), the International Organisation of Employers, BusinessMed and the Union of Black Sea and Caspian Confederation of Enterprises. TİSK represents the interests of its members in various national and international social dialogue mechanisms. However, according to the TUCAA, confederations are not authorised to engage in collective bargaining.

Tripartite and bipartite bodies and consultation

The Work Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ESC) and the Tripartite Consultation Board are the main tripartite social dialogue institutions at national level. However, the meetings of these bodies are neither regular nor frequent.

The Work Assembly, the oldest social dialogue institution in Turkey, was established in 1946. It is an ad hoc advisory body and has 58 members comprising representatives of employees, employers and the government, as well as universities. The assembly submits non-binding opinions and views on socioeconomic issues at the request of the MFLSS. Only 11 meetings have been convened since 1946; the last one took place in December 2015 when the partners discussed employment policies but reached no agreement.

The ESC is a ‘tripartite-plus’ consultative body comprising representatives of government, trade unions, employer associations and chambers of commerce. The government has a dominant position with a minimum of 16 members. It advises the government on major economic issues and mediates in industrial relations. Although the ESC should convene every three months, and despite becoming a constitutional body following amendments to the constitution in 2010, as of May 2019 it has not convened since 2009 and did not convene regularly prior to that.

The Tripartite Consultation Board, comprising government, labour and employer representatives, exists to comply with ILO Convention No. 144 and Recommendation No. 152. Its purpose is to express views on the amendments, preparation and implementation of labour laws and to promote efficient consultation, information and dialogue between the social partners in the harmonisation process of Turkish legislation with the EU’s acquis communautaire. The board should meet every three months but, as of May 2019, the last meeting took place on 15 October 2018.

Main national tripartite bodies


Issues covered

Economic and Social Council

Major socioeconomic issues and industrial relations

Work Assembly

Industrial relations

Tripartite Consultation Board

Amendments, preparation and implementation of labour laws

Employee representation at establishment level

In the figure, we see a comparison between Turkey and European Union for the people with 'Establishment size : All' when asked 'Official structure of employee representation present at establishment'. For the 'Yes' answer, Turkey's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'No' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score.

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

The central concern of employment relations is the collective governance of work and employment. This section looks into collective bargaining in Turkey.

Bargaining system

In 2017, collective agreements covered only 1,282,525 workers. Collective agreements are legally binding. Unless otherwise stated in the collective agreement, the provisions of an individual employment contract may not contravene the collective agreement. If the contract does contravene the collective agreement, it is declared null and void and must be altered to comply with it. Although the TUCAA opens the door to industry-level agreements (the so-called framework collective agreements), collective bargaining in Turkey is mainly decentralised. Collective agreements in Turkey are mainly at establishment (plant), enterprise (company) and group levels.

Bargaining levels

According to the TUCAA, neither national nor sectoral-level collective agreements can be concluded. The most important levels of collective bargaining for the setting of pay and working time are at company level, establishment level and group level. Company-level agreements describe collective agreements made for a workplace or workplaces. In cases where there is more than one company belonging to a real person, corporate body, public institution or organisation in the same branch of activity, the collective agreement may only be concluded at establishment level. A group agreement is a collective agreement that is concluded between a trade union and employer organisation that covers such companies and establishments owned by multiple employers in the same branch of activity.


There is no provision for articulation; according to the TUCAA, collective agreements may only be concluded at company level and there should be no possibility of subjecting a company to more than one collective agreement for a designated term.

Timing of the bargaining rounds

Authorisation of a new collective agreement may begin within the 120 days preceding expiration of an existing agreement. The period of collective bargaining shall be 60 days, starting from the date of the first meeting.


There is no coordination between company-level collective agreements.

Extension mechanisms

The TUCAA allows for the extension of a collective agreement concluded by the biggest union in the sector concerned (Article 40), but this provision has not been implemented since 2009.

Derogation mechanisms

There are no derogation mechanisms.

Expiry of collective agreements

A collective agreement shall be concluded for a period of not less than one year and not more than three years.

Peace clauses

The parties of a collective agreement are obliged to maintain industrial peace for the duration of the agreement.

Other aspects of working life addressed in collective agreements

Because many issues are regulated in great detail by law, collective bargaining is essentially wage bargaining. The social partners tend to expect more from laws than from collective bargaining. As a consequence, Turkish labour law covers a broad spectrum of issues, such as job security, paid leave, fair treatment and occupational health and safety, which in other countries are the subjects of collective bargaining.

Industrial action and disputes

Industrial action and disputes

Legal aspects

According to the Turkish Constitution of 1982, workers have the right to strike in the event of a labour dispute arising during negotiations for the conclusion of a collective agreement (Article 54). The TUCAA also defines a lawful strike as any strike called by workers for the purpose of safeguarding or improving their economic and social position and working conditions in the event of a dispute during negotiations to conclude a collective agreement (Article 58/2). This means that the right to strike is permissible and lawful only in this context. Other types of strikes and industrial actions, such as political, general, solidarity and wildcat strikes, slowdown and/or work to rule, have been implicitly prohibited. An employer or employer association can also call a lockout only if there is a dispute during collective negotiations that has led the trade union to call a strike.

Industrial action developments 2013–2016

In 2015, over 20,000 metal workers in Renault, Fiat, Ford, Türk Traktor and suppliers to these multinational corporations initiated spontaneous strikes to protest against both the employer association (Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries – MESS) and the labour union (Türk Metal). The strike was triggered after a collective agreement had been signed between Türk Metal and Bosch following a two-year-long union rivalry between Türk Metal and Birleşik Metal-İş. The agreement was concluded with a wage increase of almost 60%. As a consequence, workers in other factories demanded the revision of their existing collective agreements. However, the demand was refused by both MESS and Türk Metal. Additionally, the strike call of Birleşik Metal-İş at 38 member companies under MESS was banned by the government in January 2015. Following the ban, Birleşik Metal-İş called on employers to resign from MESS and sign individual agreements to maintain peace at their workplaces. Fifteen companies accepted this demand and signed agreements with Birleşik Metal-İş, agreeing to a wage increase of almost 25% in total including social benefits. These developments in the metal sector articulated a wave of protests by the workers. The first protest happened at Renault in Bursa where 5,000 workers stopped production and refused to leave the factory on 14 May 2015. Following this strike, workers started protests at Fiat-Tofaş in Bursa, Ford-Otosan in Kocaeli and Türk Traktor in Ankara and Sakarya. Although Mercedes and Arçelik workers also started protests, their actions did not become a formal strike. Workers in some major suppliers also joined this wave of strikes. After long days of negotiations, most of the companies accepted the workers’ demands at the end of May or the beginning of June, and significant numbers of workers resigned from Türk Metal.

The postponement of legal strikes, an accepted legal practice borrowed from the United States’ Taft–Hartley Act, has also been a telling feature of Turkish industrial relations, particularly between 2014 and 2019 under the AKP government. According to the TUCAA, the President may postpone a strike or lockout for 60 days if, according to the President, an existing lawful strike or lockout is likely to disrupt public health, national security or economic and financial stability in banking services, or cause disruption in municipal urban mass transport services. Upon expiration of the 60-day postponement period, the Supreme Arbitration Board should settle the dispute (TUCAA, Article 63). In effect, therefore, strike or lockout postponement means that strikes or lockouts are prohibited in Turkey.

Strike deferrals, 2014–2019




Number of workers


Trade union



National security and public health





Çayırhan ve Çöllolar Kömür İşl.

National security and public health



T. Maden-İş


MESS Group agreement

National security



Birleşik Metal-İş


Asil Çelik

National security



Birleşik Metal -İş



National security



Birleşik Metal-İş



Economic and financial stability






National security





Mefar İlaç

Public health





MESS Group agreement

National security



Türk Metal, Birleşik Metal-İş, Çelik-İş


Soda Kromsan

National security






Urban transportation




Industrial action developments, 2014–2017






Total working days lost





Number of workers involved





Source: MFLSS

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms

According to the TUCAA, a mediation process must be started, when there is a collective labour dispute, before taking any strike or lockout action or before resorting to compulsory arbitration where strikes and lockouts are not permissible (Article 50). The main function of the mediator is to make every effort possible to help the parties settle and, although this is not mandatory, to offer recommendations that the mediators can incorporate into their final report in the event of a failure to reach agreement. In 2017, only 125 out of 3,499 collective labour disputes were settled by the mediation process. Strikes and lockouts have been explicitly banned in certain sectors, such as funerals, mortuaries and cemeteries and water, gas and electricity supply. For these sectors, compulsory (official) arbitration by the Supreme Arbitration Board must be invoked if mediation fails. This board’s decisions are final and binding, effectively acting as a collective agreement (Article 51). Following expiration of the postponement of strike or lockout, the dispute must be settled by the board (Article 63). In 2016, 1,612 collective agreements were concluded by the Supreme Arbitration Board.

According to the PSUCAA, public servants do not have the right to strike. The collective dispute resolution mechanism for public servants is compulsory arbitration by the Public Servants Arbitration Board.

Individual dispute resolution mechanisms

As of May 2019, it is mandatory to apply for mediation before initiating lawsuits regarding worker or employer receivables and compensations – for example, severance pay, notice payment, annual leave pay, overtime pay, job security compensation and reinstatement. However, compensation claims arising from occupational diseases and work accidents are not subject to compulsory mediation.

Use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms

According to the Mediation in Civil Law Disputes Act No. 6352, enacted in 2012, labour disputes can be brought to the mediator voluntarily. In 2015, it was observed that 72% of the civil disputes brought to the mediator were labour disputes, nearly all disputes were concluded satisfactorily and 85% of them were concluded within a day. The Labour Courts Act, in effect since January 2018, also introduced mandatory mediation for labour disputes regarding receivables, compensations and reinstatement as a condition of litigating in courts. As of May 2019, however, there are no statistics on mandatory mediation available.

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations are the relationship between the individual worker and their employer. This relationship is shaped by legal regulation and by the outcomes of social partner negotiations over the terms and conditions governing the employment relationship . This section looks into the start and termination of the employment relationship and entitlements and obligations in Turkey.

Start and termination of the employment relationship

Requirements regarding an employment contract

The employment relationship starts with a valid employment contract. The parties to an employment contract must have legal discretion. Those under interdiction (because of drunkenness, misuse of family property, etc.) may enter into employment contracts only with the consent of their guardians and the Labour Act prohibits the employment of children under the age of 15. However, children over 14 who have finished their primary education may be employed in light work that will not hinder their physical, mental or moral development. Furthermore, children that have not reached 14 years of age may also work in arts, culture and advertising activities (Article 71).

Any employment contract of one year or more should be in written form. Team contracts (between an employer and a team of workers represented by one of the workers acting as the team leader), on-call work contracts and telework contracts should also be in written form.

Dismissal and termination procedures

According to the Labour Act, employment contracts made for an indefinite (open-ended) period may be terminated by either party provided advance notice is given (Article 17). Additionally, if an employer dismisses an employee on an open-ended employment contract (who has completed a minimum tenure of six months in an establishment with 30 or more employees), the employer must provide a valid reason, citing the capacity or conduct of the employee or the operational requirements of the establishment or service.

Contracts with a definite or indefinite period may also be terminated by either party for just cause (health reasons, serious misconduct and immoral behaviour, force majeure and absenteeism due to the worker being detained or arrested) with no obligation to respect an advance notice term (Article 24, 25).

Entitlements and obligations

Parental, maternity and paternity leave

According to the Labour Act, pregnant workers shall not work at all for eight pre-natal and eight post-natal weeks. In the case of a multiple pregnancy, an extra two weeks must be added to the eight weeks pre-natal no-work term. However, the pregnant worker may work until three weeks before delivery if her health permits it. In this case, she can add the time she has worked to her leave after delivery. New mothers can also take unpaid leave up to six months from the expiry of the 16 weeks (or 18 weeks in the case of a multiple pregnancy). New mothers shall also be granted, upon request, unpaid leave for one-half of their working hours for a period of 60 days for the first child, 120 days for the second child and 180 days for any subsequent child. The worker’s loss of income, in case of unpaid leave for one-half of her working hours, is supported by unemployment insurance. Either of the working parents is also allowed to work part-time until the child goes to school, and all these rights are also granted to adopting parents (Article 74).

There is neither parental nor paternity leave in Turkey.

Maternity leave arrangements

Maximum duration

16 weeks (18 weeks for a multiple pregnancy)


Maternity pay (two-thirds of the full wage)

Who pays?

Turkish Social Security Institution

Legal basis

Social Insurance and General Health Insurance Act No. 5510, Article 18

Sick leave

Sick leave entitlement depends on the seniority of the worker. According to the Labour Act, in cases of illness or accident that are not the employee’s fault, the employer may terminate the employee’s contract if the employee is still off work more than six weeks beyond the notice period (a minimum of two to eight weeks depending on the seniority of the worker, as defined by Article 25/I-b). Sick leave can therefore last a minimum of two weeks plus six weeks, or maximum of eight weeks plus six weeks. Sick leave is unpaid due to the suspension of the employment contract. However, workers who have paid contributions for 120 days during the previous 12 months receive sickness benefit. The benefit is equal to 50% of earnings if the worker is hospitalised, rising to 66% if the worker is being treated as an outpatient.

Retirement age

If compulsory pension contributions (7,200 premium paid days) are paid up to 31 December 2035, the retirement age will be 60 for men and 58 for women. After 2035, the retirement age will gradually increase so that, after 2047, the retirement age for both men and women will be 65.



Pay: For workers, the reward for work and main source of income; for employers, a cost of production and focus of bargaining and legislation. This section looks into minimum wage setting in Turkey and guides the reader to further material on collective wage bargaining.

The wages increase relative to employees’ level of education, age and years of work experience. Employees with higher education (graduate and postgraduate degrees) earned the highest wages. In 2014, on average they earned TRY 50,468 for men (€7,310 as of May 2019) and TRY 41,490 (€6,010 as of May 2019) for women. The highest average gross earnings were observed in the following sectors: financial and insurance activities, information and communication, accommodation and food service activities, administrative and support service activities.

Minimum wages

There is a national statutory minimum wage in Turkey. According to the Labour Act, the minimum wage shall be determined at least every two years by the MFLSS through the Minimum Wage Determination Board (Article 39/1). The minimum wage is applied to all workers working under employment contracts covered by the Labour Act, the Maritime Labour Act, the Press Labour Act and the Obligations Act. The Minimum Wage Determination Board has 15 members representing the state, employers and the workers (five representatives from each group).

A worker may not be paid a wage lower than the minimum wage. Where a wage is lower than the minimum wage agreed in the employment contract or the collective agreement, this shall be replaced by the minimum wage determined by the board. Furthermore, the minimum monthly salary to be paid to public servants must not be less than the monthly amount of the current minimum wage.

Minimum wages (TRY)









Minimum wage








Source: MFLSS

Working time

Working time

Working time: ‘Any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’ (Directive 2003/88/EC). This section briefly summarises regulation and issues regarding working time, overtime, and part-time work as well as working time flexibility in Turkey.

Working time regulation

According to the Labour Act, the maximum weekly working time, excluding overtime, is 45 hours. Unless it is decided otherwise, working time is divided equally by the number of weekdays worked at the establishment. If the relevant parties agree, working time may be distributed over the days of the week in different ways, on condition that the daily working time must not exceed 11 hours (Article 63). Moreover, parties to individual labour contracts and collective agreements may determine the maximum working time limits for daily and/or weekly working hours. The Labour Act also regulates equalising (balancing), which is consistent with EU Directive 93/104/EC. This balancing period (two months) may be increased by up to four months by collective agreements (Article 63), the employer adjusting and scheduling working time accordingly. In other words, the employer shall determine the work commencement and ending times, including break hours.

Overtime regulation

Work exceeding the 45-hour weekly maximum is defined as overtime work. Wages for each hour of overtime must be remunerated at 1.5 times the normal hourly rate. If the worker so wishes, instead of receiving overtime pay, they may get time off in lieu, of one hour and 30 minutes for each hour of overtime worked. The worker cannot work overtime of more than 270 hours in a year to increase output. However, compulsory and emergency overtime work may exceed 270 hours. The Labour Act has also defined a new concept: ‘work at extra hours’. In cases where the weekly working time has been set by contract at less than 45 hours, work that exceeds the average weekly working time, and which may last up to 45 hours per week, is deemed to be work at extra hours. Each extra hour must be remunerated at 1.25 times the normal hourly rate. As is the case with overtime, a worker is free to ask for time off in lieu instead, of one hour and 15 minutes for each extra hour worked (Article 41).

Part-time work

According to the Work Times Regulation, work taking up to two-thirds the time of similar work done under a full-time contract is considered to be part-time work (Article 6). For instance, if full-time work in an establishment normally comprises 45 hours, then any work requiring less than 30 hours should be considered as part-time. On-call work contracts are also defined as a special form of part-time employment contract by the Labour Act (Article 14).

Persons employed part-time in Turkey and the EU (% of total employment)








Total – Turkey







Total – EU







Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsi_pt_a] – Persons employed part-time (20 to 64 years of age) – total and by sex

Involuntary part-time work

Night work

According to the Labour Act, ‘night-time’ refers to the period between 20:00 at the latest and 06:00 at the earliest and lasts for a maximum of 11 hours (Article 69/1). The worker and the employer may adjust the start or end times of the work shift, however night work must not exceed 7.5 hours in any case (Article 69/3). Consequently, no overtime is available for night work.

Shift work

Shift work is not defined in the Labour Act, but there are some restrictions for night shifts. In establishments where operations continue day and night by alternating shifts of employees, the alternation of shifts must be so arranged that employees are engaged in night work for not more than one week and are then engaged in day work the following week. Alternation of work on night and day shifts may also be carried out on a two-week basis. Employees must have a minimum rest break of 11 hours before changing from one type of shift to the other.

Weekend work

Workers who work at the weekend (for example, Sunday plus another day of the week) are paid their weekend wage plus 1.5 times that wage, since work exceeding 45 hours is considered overtime.

Rest and breaks

According to the Labour Act, daily breaks should be taken as close as possible to the middle of the working day. The length of breaks has been linked to the length of daily working hours. The length of daily breaks shall be 15 minutes for work lasting 4 hours or less, 30 minutes for work lasting between 4 and 7.5 hours and 1 hour for work lasting more than 7.5 hours (Article 68).

The Labour Act also prescribes that workers shall have a minimum of 24 hours’ uninterrupted break in a seven-day cycle. The weekend break, in principle, should be on a Sunday, but workers who usually work on Sundays take their weekly rest on another day.

Working time flexibility

According to the Labour Act, weekly working time may be distributed over the days of the week in different ways provided that daily working time does not exceed 11 hours in any one day. Furthermore, a compressed working week is also applicable by an equalising (balancing) period. The equalising period is a maximum of two months, but it may be increased up to four months by collective agreement. Within the equalising period, the weekly working time may exceed 45 hours in some weeks provided that, within a two-month period, the average weekly working time must be equal to 45 hours (Article 63). In such a case, when the worker works more than 45 hours some weeks, no overtime fee shall be paid. Similarly, if the worker works fewer than 45 hours some weeks, no deduction shall be applied to the wage.

Do you have fixed start and finishing time in your work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Turkey and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have fixed starting and finishing times in your work?'. For the 'No' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Turkey's score is higher than the European Union score.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015. More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s  European Working conditions survey.

Health and well-being

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be a high priority for workers and employers alike. Health is an asset closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. A healthy economy depends on a healthy workforce: organisations can experience loss of productivity through the ill-health of their workers. This section looks into health and safety and psychosocial risks in Turkey.

Health and safety at work

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) No. 6331, based on the principles of EU Directive No. 89/391, was adopted in 2012. All employees in the public and private sectors, including apprentices and interns, are covered by the OHSA. The OHSA obliges employers to decrease occupational risks by:

  • taking risk assessment and accident prevention measures
  • employing occupational health and safety staff
  • setting up occupational health and safety boards (in companies with more than 50 employees)
  • reporting and recording accidents and occupational sickness

According to the Risk Assessment Regulation, a risk assessment has to be made and renewed at least every two years for very hazardous workplaces, every four years for hazardous workplaces and every six years for slightly hazardous workplaces (Article 12/1).

Working days lost due to accidents at work (four days’ absence or more), 2013–2016
















Source: SGK

Accidents and deaths represent Turkey’s most significant problems at work. The annual statistics published by the Social Security Institution reported 286,068 work accidents and 597 occupational diseases in 2016. Work-related accidents are concentrated in certain sectors, such as mining, metal and construction. One of the largest work accidents in Turkey caused 301 deaths and more than 80 injuries in the Soma coal mine in 2014.

Psychosocial risks

There are no specific regulations addressing psychosocial risks at work.

Work intensity: Do you have enough time to get the job done?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Turkey and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have enough time to get the job done?'. For the 'Always or most of the time' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Rarely or never' answer, Turkey's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Sometimes' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015. More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Skills, learning and employability

Skills, learning and employability

National system for ensuring skills and employability

As of May 2019, training opportunities after formal education remain limited in Turkey. Through its vocational training centres and public education centres, alongside İşkur, the Ministry of National Education provides most of the training programmes. Turkey has reformed its vocational training system through an EU-funded project implemented between 2002 and 2006. Following the establishment of the Vocational Training Authority in 2006, the Lifelong Learning Policy Strategy and the Turkish Qualifications Framework (TQF) were adopted in 2009 and 2015 respectively. The TQF is the national qualifications framework designed to be in harmony with the European Qualifications Framework and describes the qualifications awarded in vocational, general education and academic training programmes, including primary, secondary and higher education, as well as those achieved in other learning environments. The TQF covers quality-assured qualifications achieved in all learning environments at all levels within Turkey’s education and training system. The TQF has been designed with eight levels. More information on the TQF level descriptors can be found in the link below.

Social partners are generally not involved in ensuring skills and employability.


Turkish employment agency İşkur has a major role in improving employability by organising on-the-job training programmes, vocational training courses, entrepreneurship training programmes and public work programmes. In 2016, İşkur organised 112,027 active labour market programmes, and a total of 420,638 trainees joined these programmes (119,172 trainees for vocational training courses covering a wide range of vocations, 63,261 trainees for entrepreneurship training programmes and 238,205 trainees for on-the-job training programmes).

Training: Have you had any on the job training in the past year?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Turkey and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Have you had on-the-job training in the last 12 months?'. For the 'No' answer, Turkey's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015 More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Work organisation

Work organisation

Work organisation underpins economic and business development and has important consequences for productivity, innovation and working conditions. Eurofound research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Therefore, developing or introducing different forms of work organisation are of particular interest because of the expected effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of companies, as well as on workers’ working conditions. Ongoing research by Eurofound, based on EurWORK, the European Working Conditions Survey and the European Company Survey, monitors developments in work organisation.

Work organisation: Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Turkey and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?'. For the 'No' answer, Turkey's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Turkey's score is higher than the European Union score.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015. More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey.

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality and non-discrimination at work

The principle of equal treatment requires that all people, and in the context of the workplace all workers, have the right to receive the same treatment, and will not be discriminated against on the basis of criteria such as age, disability, nationality, sex, race and religion.

According to the constitution

every person is equal before law irrespective of differences in language, colour, sex, political thought, religion, sect and other similar features. Men and women have equal rights; the state must take measures to provide for this equality

(Article 10)

The Labour Act has incorporated this constitutional principle into labour law:

No discrimination based on language, race, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sex or similar reasons is permissible in the employment relationship.

Unless there are essential reasons for differential treatment, the employer must not make any discrimination between a full-time and a part-time employee or an employee working under a fixed-term employment contract (contract made for a definite period) and one working under an open-ended employment contract (contract made for an indefinite period).

Except for biological reasons or reasons related to the nature of the job, the employer must not make any discrimination, either directly or indirectly, against an employee in the conclusion, conditions, execution and termination of his (her) employment contract due to the employee’s sex or maternity. […]

If the employer violates the above provisions in the execution or termination of the employment relationship, the employee may demand compensation up his (her) four months’ wages plus other claims of which he (she) has been deprived.

(Article 5)

Equal pay and gender pay gap

According to the Labour Act, differential remuneration for similar jobs or for work of equal value is not permissible (Article 5), but differential wages may be paid where there are differences among employees’ levels of skill, training, seniority, merit or dexterity. If employees are granted flat-rate wage increases, however, the Court of Cassation holds that the principle of equal treatment should apply.

While the overall gender pay gap favours female employees, it favours male employees at all levels in education. The gender pay gap was -1.1% and -0.4% in 2010 and 2014 respectively. This can be explained by the distribution of wage earners by academic achievement: more female than male employees went on to higher education after school, while more male than female employees finished their education at primary school and/or below.

Quota regulations

According to the Labour Act, in establishments employing 50 or more workers, employers shall employ disabled persons at a rate of 3% in the private sector, disabled persons at a rate of 4% and ex-convicts or victims of terrorism (those who are injured during military service as a result of terrorism acts without becoming disabled and close relatives of those becoming disabled or who died) at a rate of 2% in the public sector in jobs consistent with such persons’ occupational skills and physical and mental capacities (Article 30).



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