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Private Sector Employee Rights

What are private sector employee rights?

Private Sector Employee Rights


Private sector employees may face situations such as discriminatory treatment in the workplace, failure to ensure their rights provided by the employment contract or workplace practice*, failure to ensure work safety, and dismissal without valid or legitimate reason. Knowing their own rights and the legal remedies to be applied in case of violations of rights makes them happier in business life. In this blog post, we have written about the rights of private sector employees within the scope of Labour Law No. 4857. Since the evaluation to be made according to the characteristics of each case may vary, we recommend that you seek professional support before applying for a legal remedy.

Right to Equal Treatment

Every employee has the right to equal treatment in the labour relationship. The employer may not discriminate against employees on the basis of language, religion, race, colour, sex, marital status, conscientious conviction, religious sect and similar reasons.

Unless there are justified reasons, the employer may not treat employees who work full-time and part-time, or who work remotely, or who work under a fixed-term contract and who work under an indefinite-term contract differently.

Mobbing, which is the continuous and systematic negative behaviour of the employer towards the employee, is also considered as a violation of the equal treatment obligation. In this case, the employee may file a lawsuit against the employer to claim discrimination compensation in the amount of four months' wage and the deprived rights.

Right to Wage

The essential element of the employment contract is the right to wages that the employee will be entitled to in return for his/her work. It is the employer's responsibility to regularly pay the wage determined for the employees in return for their work within the scope of their employment contracts. The hourly wage of the employee cannot be below the hourly minimum wage.

Failure to calculate or pay the wage of the employee in accordance with the provisions of the law or the terms of the contract constitutes a justified termination for the employee. Underpayment of the insurance premium is also a justified reason for termination for the employee. 

Overtime Work Wage Right

Employees are entitled to overtime wages for work exceeding 45 working hours per week. In the work of the employee exceeding 45 hours per week, the wage corresponding to the hourly wage for each extra hour worked is calculated with a 50% increase.

Week-end Holiday Right

Employees are entitled to at least one uninterrupted rest day in each week they work. For the unworked week holiday day, the employer must pay the full wage of that day. If the employee is worked by the employer on the holiday day after completing the 45 hours of weekly working hours, the employee must be paid a total of 2.5 days' wage by adding 1.5 days' wage, which is the daily wage with a fifty percent increase, to the 1-day wage.

National and General Holiday Right

Employees have the right not to work on national holidays and general holidays.  On these days, employees are paid the full wage of that day. If employees are made to work on national holidays and general holidays, the employee is also paid a daily wage for each day worked.

Annual Leave Right

Employees are entitled to annual paid leave if they have worked in the workplace for at least one year from the day they started work, including the trial period. The duration of annual paid leave to be given to the workers shall not be less than fourteen days for those with a service period of one year to five years (including five years), twenty days for those with more than five years and less than fifteen years, and twenty-six days for those with fifteen years (including) and more.

The duration of annual paid leave to be granted to workers aged eighteen and under and workers aged fifty (50) and over shall not be less than twenty days.

Although it is compulsory to give annual paid leave continuously, if the parties agree, a part of it may be divided into three at most, not less than 10 days.

Right to Demand Occupational Health and Safety

The employer is obliged to ensure the occupational health and safety of employees; to prevent occupational risks, to take all measures, including training and information, to organise, to provide the necessary tools and equipment, to adapt health and safety measures to changing conditions and to improve the current situation.

Right to Break

Employee is entitled to give a break for work of four hours or less, fifteen minutes, for work of more than four hours and up to seven and a half hours (including seven and a half hours) half an hour, for work of more than seven and a half hours one hour.

Right of Non-Consent to Substantive Changes

The employer may make a fundamental change in working conditions (wage, place and time of work, working hours at the workplace, fringe benefits) only by notifying the employees in writing. Changes not made in writing or not accepted in writing by the employee within six working days are not binding on the employee. The employer reserves the right to terminate the employment contract by explaining in writing that the change is based on a valid reason or that there is another valid reason for termination and by complying with the notice period.

Right to Compassionate Leave on Certain Days

Employees are entitled to three days' paid leave in the event of marriage or adoption or the death of their parents, spouse, siblings or children, and five days' paid leave in the event of the birth of their spouse.

Maternity Leave Right

Female workers are entitled to leave for a total of sixteen weeks, eight weeks before the birth and eight weeks after the birth. In case of multiple pregnancies, two more weeks are added to the eight weeks before the birth. If the health condition of the female employee is appropriate, with the approval of the doctor, she can work at the workplace up to three weeks before the birth if she wishes. In this case, the periods worked by the female employee shall be added to the postnatal periods. The female employee shall be granted unpaid leave for up to six months from the end of her maternity leave upon her request. From the end of the maternity leave, for the care and upbringing of the child and provided that the child is alive, the female worker and the female or male workers who adopt a child under the age of three are given unpaid leave for sixty days in the first birth, one hundred and twenty days in the second birth, and one hundred and eighty days in subsequent births for half of the weekly working hours. In case of multiple births, thirty days are added to these periods. If it is documented with a doctor's report that the child is born with a disability, this period is applied as three hundred and sixty days. 

Breastfeeding Leave Right

The periods to be specified for breastfeeding women workers to give milk to their children shall be included in the daily working hours. The female worker shall be given a total of one and a half hours of milk leave per day to breastfeed her child under one year of age.

Right to Severance Pay

Employees who work for one year or more under an indefinite-term employment contract are entitled to severance pay if they terminate their employment contract for just cause, or if their employment contract is terminated by the employer without just cause. Female employees can be entitled to severance pay by terminating their employment contract within one year from the date of marriage without any justification.

Male employees are entitled to severance pay if they leave their jobs due to military service, employees are entitled to retirement or leave their jobs due to the completion of the required insurance period and premium days other than age, female employees leave their jobs voluntarily within 1 year due to marriage or death of the employee.

Right to Payment in Lieu of Notice

In indefinite-term employment contracts, without prejudice to the right of immediate termination based on just cause, the notice period for the termination of the employment contract is two weeks for employees who have worked for less than six months, four weeks for employees who have worked for six months to one and a half years, six weeks for employees who have worked for one and a half years to three years, and eight weeks for employees who have worked for more than three years, starting from the day of notification. In the event that the employment contract is terminated without complying with these periods, the party who does not comply with the period must pay compensation in the amount of the wage for the notice period.

Within the notice periods, the employer is obliged to give the employee the necessary job search leave to find a new job during working hours and without deduction of wages. The duration of the job search leave cannot be less than two hours a day and the employee may combine the hours of job search leave and use them collectively if he/she wishes.

Grounds for Termination Based on Valid Reason and Right to Request Reinstatement

In order for the employer to terminate the employment contract of employees with an indefinite employment contract who have at least six months of seniority in workplaces employing thirty or more employees, the employer is obliged to base the termination notice on a valid reason arising from the employee's competence or behaviour or the requirements of the enterprise, workplace or business.

Employees whose employment contract has been terminated by the employer without giving a reason in the termination notice or who claim that the reason given in the termination notice is not based on a valid reason and for whom the conditions in the above paragraph have been fulfilled, may file a lawsuit before the labour courts with a request for reinstatement within one month from the date of notification of the termination notice. If the reemployment lawsuit is accepted and became final, the employee has to declare in writing to the employer within 10 days that he/she wants to start work, and the employer has to invite the employee to work within 1 month. Employers who do not reinstate the employee as a result of the lawsuit must pay compensation to the employee for at least 4 months and at most 8 months of wages.

If the workers who have left their jobs due to any military or legal duty wish to be employed within two months starting from the end of this duty, the employer is obliged to employ them immediately if there is a vacancy in their former jobs or similar jobs, or if not, to employ them in the first job to be vacated, preferring other applicants, under the conditions at that time. If the employer fails to fulfil his obligation to conclude an employment contract even though the conditions required are met, he shall pay compensation in the amount of three months' wages to the former employee who requests employment.

Unemployment Pay

Insured employees who quit their jobs against their own will and fault can benefit from unemployment pay if they have paid at least six hundred days of insurance premiums within three years before the date of leaving the job and if they have worked uninterruptedly for one hundred and twenty days before the date of leaving the job. Periods of work; Insured unemployed who have worked as insured for 600 days and paid unemployment insurance premiums can benefit from unemployment benefits for 6 months, insured unemployed who have worked as insured for 900 days and paid unemployment insurance premiums for 8 months, insured unemployed who have worked as insured for 1080 days and paid unemployment insurance premiums for 10 months.

Did you know?

!       All kinds of physical or mental damages suffered by the worker at the employer's workplace or when he/she is sent to another place outside the workplace on duty are considered as occupational accidents.

!       When the workplace or a part of the workplace is transferred to another person based on a legal transaction, the labour contracts existing in the workplace or a part of it on the date of transfer pass to the transferee together with all rights and obligations. The mere transfer of the workplace does not change the fate of the employment contracts of the employees.

!       Most of the claims under the Labour Law are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations. Therefore, since wage or other labour claims are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations from the date of their arising, it is necessary to request early from the employer in order to avoid the statute of limitations for past receivables after the termination of the employment contract.

* For detailed information about the employee's right to immediate termination for just cause, see: Labor Law No. 4857 https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuatmetin/1.5.4857.pdf