Turkish Labor Law (“Labor Law”) defines the remote work as the employment relationship based on the principle that the employee performs his/her job at home or outside the workplace with technological communication tools under the work organization developed by the employer. As result of the implications of COVID-19 in employment and working life Turkey’s Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services (“Ministry”) has recently published the longstanding Regulation on Remote Work (“Regulation”) which has been promulgated on the Official Gazette dated March 10, 2021.

The Regulation requires the employment contracts for remote work to be made in a written form and shall include the terms for scope and manner of work, the duration and place of the work, wage, and the matters regarding the payment of wages, the work tools provided by the employer, the equipment and the obligations regarding their protection, the employer's communication with the employee and the general and special work conditions.

The Regulation allows the parties to enter remote work contract for those who will be employed first time or switch the existing contracts to remote work contracts subject to mutual covenant of both the employee and the employer.

The transition to remote work can also be requested by the employee which requires to submission of the written request.  

In case the remote work will be performed in the whole or a part of the workplace due to the act of providence, the request or approval of the employee will not be sought for switching the contract type. The act of providence is defined as “Conditions that occur regularly arising from external effects which are not caused by the employer's own management and administration and not predictable and consequently cannot be eliminated and resulting in a temporary reduction of working time or a complete or partial suspension of the activity; or situations such as earthquake, fire, flood, landslide, epidemic, mobilization”.

Besides, the Regulation restricts certain works to apply remote work regime such as works related to dangerous chemicals and radioactive materials; processing such materials or works related to wastes of those; works having the risk of exposure to biological factors. Further, work units, projects, or services that are rendering services to public authorities and organization and strategically important in terms of national security shall not move to remote work regime.

The Regulation requires employers to supply the materials and work tools to employee to perform the work unless otherwise agreed in the employment contract and the principles of use and maintenance and repair conditions of those should be well clarified.

The parties are required to make necessary arrangements regarding the place of remote work before it is initiated, and the Regulation entitles employees to be paid for costs arising due to such arrangements.

With respect to data protection, the employer shall inform the employee about the protection and sharing of data regarding the workplace and the work and to take all necessary measures for privacy purposes. Scope of the data subject to protection shall be stated on the employment contract. Besides, the employer shall to i) inform the employee about occupational health and safety precautions, ii) provide the necessary training, iii) provide health surveillance, and iiii) take the necessary occupational safety measures related to the equipment considering the nature of the work.

In conclusion, the remote work regime has been remained on the agenda all year-round due to the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak in work life and now been clarified with all details of and became clearer with such an accurate legal basis.

Nihan Ünal