In order to reduce COVID-19 pandemic’s adverse effects, some measures have been taken regarding social and economic life in Turkey. With the Law on Establishing Digital Mediums Committee and Amending Several Acts, which has been published in the Official Gazette dated July 28, 2020, (“Law”) Digital Mediums Committee is established and various laws are amended including extension of employer’s termination restriction and short time working allowance periods.

Employment Contract Termination Restriction

Previously, employer’s termination of any employment contract whether under the scope of the Labor Law numbered 4857 (“Law No. 4857”) or not was prohibited as a COVID-19 measure, except for termination due to immoral, dishonorable or malicious conduct or other similar behavior. Additionally, the employer was entitled to grant furlough for the period of termination restriction.  Being entitled to furlough does not give the employee the right to terminate the contract based on the justified reason. The employee’s consent is not required to grant furlough and it is possible to grant partial or complete furlough in a workplace.

With the Law, the Law No. 4857 regarding employer’s termination restriction is amended with the purpose to clarify exceptions to the termination restriction and extend the restriction period. With this respect, end of employment contract due to end of the term of the contract for employment contracts for a defined period, closing of a workplace and suspension of business, and completion of procurement of services and construction works will be excluded from termination restriction. Additionally, the President is authorized to extend the termination restriction for three months each time, until June 30, 2021. End of employment contracts by mutual termination with settlement agreement is not under the scope of the mentioned termination restriction.

In case of a violation of the relevant provisions by the employer or his / her representative who terminates the employment contract, they will be given an administrative fine at the monthly gross minimum wage amount for the employee whose contract is terminated.

Extension of Short Time Working Allowance Periods

In addition, the Law on Unemployment Insurance No. 4447 (“Law No. 4447”) is amended to authorize the President to extend the deadline for short time working allowance application due to COVID-19 and to extend short time working allowance period for individual sectors or in general.

For workplaces that have applied for short time working allowance prior to July 1, 2020 and benefited from short time working allowance, a premium support of three months, will be provided, to be effective as of the beginning of August 2020. Accordingly, after short time working period is over and weekly normal working time starts being applied in a workplace, premiums required to be paid by the employer would be covered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund stipulated under Law No. 4447. This premium support will be applicable for employees who would start to work for normal weekly working hours, who had been granted furlough and benefited from the monthly stipend provided under the Law No. 4447. Premium support would not exceed the monthly average of the days that the relevant employee had been provided short time working allowance or monthly stipend. In addition, exceptions to the premium support are regulated under the Law.

In case it is determined that the application of short time working or monthly stipend for the employees who have been granted furlough was not compliant with the relevant legislation in the first place, employer’s premium obligation would not be covered. With this respect, the President is authorized to extend the abovementioned period of three months for premium support.

Occupational Health and Safety Liabilities are Postponed

With the amendment of the Law on Occupational Health and Safety numbered 6331, employers’ liabilities regarding occupational health and safety including employing a workplace doctor and government support for occupational health and safety matters are postponed for workplaces that employ less than 50 employees and public institutions until the end of 2023.

Digital Mediums Committee is established

To review, discuss, report and advise on precautions to prevent malicious internet usage breaching the law, personal rights, right of privacy, and other fundamental rights and freedoms or harming physical and psychological development of children, the Digital Mediums Committee consisting of seventeen Parliament members is established with the Law. 

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