Regulation of wages in other law in Turkey

Apart from the Labor Law No. 4857, legal texts that function to protect and guarantee regulation of wages in Turkey can be found in the Occupational Health and Safety Law, the Code of Obligations, the Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law, the Civil Code, the Unemployment Insurance Law, the Vocational Education Law, the Private Education Institutions Law, the Turkish Employment Agency Law and the Mining Law.

1. Some of the regulation in Turkey in other laws for the protection of wages are found in the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331. Some of these are related to the fact that the employee will be entitled to wages when he/she does not perform his/her main job due to being on duty or attending training, and some of them are related to the fact that he/she will be entitled to wages when he/she does not work due to avoidance of work or stoppage of work.

In the occupational health and safety legislation, one of the situations where the employee is entitled to wages in Turkey even though he/she does not perform his/her main job is the participation in occupational health and safety training. This issue is regulated in Article 17/7 of the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331 and Article 8 of the Regulation in Turkey on the Procedures and Principles of Occupational Health and Safety Training of Employees. Accordingly, the time spent in trainings will be counted from the working time.

In the event that the time spent in training exceeds the weekly working hours, these periods will be considered as overtime work or working for excessive periods.

Another situation evaluated within this scope is when the employee takes part in the occupational health and safety committees established at the workplace. According to Article 9/ç of the Regulation in Turkey on Occupational Health and Safety Committees, the periods to be spent in the meetings of this committee should be counted as working time.

In other words, the employee will be entitled to wages in these cases in Turkey. For example, in a workplace where the working hours are determined as 40 hours, if the working week totals 40 hours in total, but not 45 hours, the difference in between should be paid as overtime work and if 45 hours are completed, the difference above 45 hours should be paid to the employee as overtime wage.  As mentioned above, this conclusion can be reached very easily in the case of training, based on the provision of the law. In the case of participation in board activities, this conclusion can only be reached in accordance with the principle of interpretation in favour of the employee.

Another situation where the employee is entitled to wages without performing his/her main job is in the case of being an occupational safety specialist or workplace physician or other health personnel. In the context of the second paragraph of Article 10 of the relevant regulations, occupational physicians and occupational safety specialists and in the context of the second paragraph of Article 17 of the relevant regulations, other health personnel have the right to participate in organisations such as training, seminars and panels to ensure their professional development, provided that they work with a full-time employment contract. A total of 5 working days in a year from the time spent in such organisations will be counted as working time, so no deduction can be made from their wages in Turkey.

The first issue in which the employee is entitled to wages despite not working is in the context of the right to refrain from working regulated in Article 13 of the law. Accordingly, if the conditions are met, if the employees refrain from working, their wages and other rights arising from the laws and labour contracts will be reserved. In other words, the payment of wages and other rights will continue.

Another situation arises during a work stoppage. According to Article 13 of the Regulation in Turkey on Suspension of Work in Workplaces, employers are obliged to pay the wages of employees who are unemployed due to the suspension of work or to give them another job according to their profession or situation, provided that their wages are not reduced.

Another consequence of counting certain periods as working time is that these periods should also be taken into consideration in the calculation of the employee’s other rights related to working time (severance and notice pay, annual paid leave, week holiday pay, national holiday and general holiday pay, etc.).

2. Apart from the Labour Law, the most important law on the protection of wages is the Code of Obligations in Turkey.

Article 407 of the Code of Obligations. The first paragraph of Article 407 of the Code of Obligations evaluates the payment of wages through a bank under the title of wage protection. Accordingly, payment through a bank is a situation that protects the wage.

The second paragraph of the article is related to the settlement process. In this context, Article 144 should also be evaluated, since it is a general regulation in Turkey on clearing and settlement. One of the regulations on the protection of the wage is included in Article 144 of the Code of Obligations. Accordingly, the part of the wage that is necessary for the livelihood of the worker and his/her family cannot be exchanged without the consent of the worker. 407. Article 407 of the Code of Obligations specifically regulates the relationship between wage and exchange, and stipulates that the employer may not exchange the wage receivable from the employee and the wage obligation without the consent of the employee. Thus, the scope of the limitation in Article 144 is further extended. 407. In Article 407, the consent of the employee, which is required for the part of the wage that is necessary for the subsistence of the employee’s family, has been taken into consideration for the entire amount of the wage. 407. According to the provision of Article 407, this limitation will be removed if the worker has intent in the occurrence of the damage. However, even in this case, the damage must be a fixed damage, the intention of the worker in the occurrence of the damage must be revealed by a judicial decision, and the amount to be exchanged must not exceed the attachable part of the dowry.

The said Article 407. A final issue regulated by the last paragraph of Article 407 is the use of the wage in favor of the employer. According to the aforementioned regulation in Turkey, agreements that the wage will be used in favor of the employer are invalid.

Another issue is the default of the debtor (employer).  Article 408 of the Law. According to Article 408 of the Law, the default of the employer refers to the unjustified refusal of the employer to accept the work although the worker is ready to perform the work. In this case, the employee has the right to demand the wage even if he does not perform the work. However, while exercising this right, the money earned by the employee in another job within the framework of the rules of equity, the money saved by not working and the money he deliberately avoided earning should be deducted from the amount. In this regard, it is important whether the employment contract is of definite or indefinite duration.

Another situation in the law is in Article 409. Article 409. This situation arises in case the employee stops working. In a long-term service relationship, if the employee is unable to work for a short period of time due to illness, military service or work and similar reasons arising from the law, the employer has the obligation to pay the employee an equitable wage for this period of inability to work, unless it is met in another way.

Another situation that protects the wage in terms of the regulations in the Code of Obligations is related to the attachment, transfer and pledge of wage receivables regulated in Article 410. Accordingly, more than one quarter of the wages of the workers cannot be seized, transferred or pledged.  On the other hand, the amount determined by the judge for the dependent family members of the worker shall not be included in this ratio.  The rights of alimony creditors are reserved. Accordingly, in case of attachment, transfer or pledge, the alimony determined by the judge for the dependents of the employee will be deducted from the wage first, and then one fourth of the remaining amount will be calculated.

Article 436 of the Code of Obligations stipulates that in the event of insolvency of the employer, the employee may request a guarantee for the wage within a reasonable period of time, and in case of failure to fulfil this guarantee, the employee may terminate the employment contract.

3. 206. and 207. According to the provisions of Articles 206 and 207 of the Execution and Bankruptcy Law, labour receivables are privileged receivables and labour receivables come after public receivables and receivables secured by pledge. These provisions have been amended by the Law No. 4949, but the element of wages in Turkey being a privileged receivable has been preserved. With this amendment, labour receivables are accepted in the first place. Accordingly, in Article 206 of the Execution and Bankruptcy Law Within Article 206 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law, in Article A, the receivables of the workers based on the labour relationship and accrued within one year prior to the opening of the bankruptcy, including notice and severance payments, and the notice and severance payments to which they are entitled upon the termination of the labour relationship due to bankruptcy are listed.

Again, according to Article 317 of the Execution and Bankruptcy Law, when the President of the Republic grants long terms to the debtors to pay their debts, especially in extraordinary circumstances such as economic cherries, such debt postponement decisions and the grace period granted are not valid for wages in accordance with the provision of Article 326 of the same law.

4. By recognising the right of legal mortgage on immovable property in relation to the non-payment of wages of craftsmen under Articles 893 et seq. of the Turkish Civil Code No. 4721, a wage security is created in relation to the unpaid wages of the person in Turkey who works as a craftsman if he is employed with an employment contract, in other words, in the status of employee.

Again, the right of imprisonment, the conditions and provisions of which are determined by Article 950 and the following articles of the Turkish Civil Code numbered 4721, also has a quality applicable to wage claims. Accordingly, the creditor (employee) is authorised to imprison the movable property or negotiable instruments belonging to the debtor (employer) and owned by the debtor with the consent of the debtor, until the debt is paid, if the debt is due and the nature of this property is related to the debt. According to Article 953 of the Civil Code, if the debt is not fulfilled and adequate security is not provided, the employee may request that the imprisoned goods be converted into money in accordance with the provisions of pledge subject to delivery by notifying the employer in advance.

5. Additional Article 1 of the Unemployment Insurance Law No. 4447 stipulates that in case of insolvency of the employer, a wage guarantee fund will be established for the payment of the last three months in case of non-payment and a regulation in Turkey will be issued in this regard.

Again, the short-time working allowance, which is included in the Additional Article 2 of the Law No. 4447 and which can be considered as a wage guarantee in a certain sense, is a payment that must be made to the worker when the situation defined in the relevant regulation arises.

6. According to Article 25 of the Vocational Education Law No. 3308, the wage to be paid to candidate apprentices shall not be less than 30% of the net amount of the minimum wage appropriate to their age, and the wage to be paid to students receiving vocational training in enterprises shall not be less than 30% of the minimum wage in workplaces employing twenty or more personnel, and 15% in workplaces employing less than twenty personnel.

7. According to Article 9 of the Law No. 5580 on Private Education Institutions, those who provide management and education and training services in private schools shall not be paid less than the salary paid in equivalent public schools according to their seniority (except pensioners) and additional payment amounts within the scope of social assistance.

This is also valid for the payment of additional course fees. However, the additional course fee shall not exceed twice the additional course fee determined for public schools, if the personnel are assigned as paid from public schools and institutions.

8. The Law No. 4904 on the Turkish Employment Agency also contains a number of regulations regarding the protection of wages in Turkey. Articles 17, 18 and 19 of the Law authorize the establishment of private employment agencies and regulate the conditions of employment, and the Regulation on Private Employment Agencies was issued. Later on, Article 90 of the Labour Law authorized the Turkish Employment Agency and the private employment agencies permitted by the Turkish Employment Agency to act as intermediaries in finding jobs and workers. Later, with the Regulation in Turkey on Private Employment Agencies published in the Official Gazette dated 19.03.2013 and numbered 28592, the Regulation dated 2008 was abrogated. In terms of wage deductions, Article 19 of the Law stipulates that in the event that private employment agencies make agreements with jobseekers regarding wages other than those specified in the relevant regulation, receive wages from them or obtain benefits in any way, the agreements made between the private employment agency and the employer will be deemed invalid. According to Article 12 of the Regulation, it is possible to receive remuneration from job seekers if the job seekers are professional athletes, technical directors, coaches, models, photomodels and artists or if they are general managers and equivalent higher level managers. However, for this purpose, according to Article 13 of the regulation, a written agreement must be made with these persons in order to receive remuneration.

9. According to the Additional Article 9 of the Mining Law No. 312, the amount of wages to be paid in Turkey to the workers working underground in the workplaces where lignite and hard coal are extracted from the Group 4 mines listed in Article 2 of the Law shall not be less than twice the minimum wage determined in accordance with Article 39 of the Labour Law No. 4857.

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