It is frequently observed that unpaid leave in Turkey is granted to the employees or the employee requests such leave due to the general conditions of the country, the characteristics of the workplace, the private life of the employee and similar issues. In addition to these, there are also some unpaid leaves that must be granted legally. For this reason, it is useful to divide the subject into two as mandatory unpaid leaves and voluntary unpaid leaves.
Article 74 of the Labour Law generally includes some types of unpaid leave in Turkey in case of maternity. These leaves are systematised in the Regulation on Part-Time Work After Maternity Leave or Unpaid Leave and the right to unpaid leave for half of the working period is defined in Article 6 of the regulation and the right to unpaid leave for up to six months is defined in Article 7. According to Article 6 of the Regulation
- From the end of the maternity leave, for the care and upbringing of the child and provided that the child is alive, female workers and female or male workers who adopt a child under the age of three will be given unpaid leave in Turkey for sixty days for the first birth, one hundred and twenty days for the second birth, and one hundred and eighty days for subsequent births for half of the weekly working hours,
- In case of multiple births, thirty days will be added to these periods,
- If it is documented with a doctor’s report that the child was born with a disability, this period will be applied as three hundred and sixty days and
- A female worker who benefits from unpaid leave in Turkey may not be granted a total of one and a half hours of breastfeeding leave per day to breastfeed her child under one year of age.
According to Article 7 of the Regulation, the female employee will be granted unpaid leave in Turkey for up to six months from the end of the maternity leave, and this right will be granted to one of the spouses or the adopter in case of adoption of a child under the age of three for the same periods. This unpaid leave period will not be taken into account in the calculation of the annual paid leave right.
Another unpaid leave related to maternity leave is stipulated in Article 8 of the Regulation on the Conditions of Employment of Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women, Breastfeeding Rooms and Child Care Facilities. If the pregnant worker is required to work in a lighter job with a doctor’s report and it is not technically and reasonably possible to give another job, the worker must be considered to be on unpaid leave at the request of the worker within the period necessary to protect the safety and health of the worker.
Another situation where unpaid leave may be required is stipulated in Article 56 of the Labour Law. Accordingly, workers who will spend their annual leave in a place other than the place where the workplace is located should be given unpaid leave up to a total of 4 days upon their request to cover the time elapsed during the year.
It is frequently observed that unpaid leave is granted to workers for reasons such as general economic conditions, decrease in orders, renovation, relocation, etc., and cash shortage. Although there is no provision in the law, it is beneficial to carry out certain procedures in order to ensure that unpaid leave is not understood as a default in certain cases, that the workers are not victimised, and that the burden of proof can be fulfilled in disputes that may arise afterwards:
- Unpaid leave must be announced at the workplace in terms of reasons and duration. The reason should be understandable and the duration should not exceed a reasonable period of time.
- In determining the workers to be taken unpaid leave in Turkey, priority should be given to those who are willing.
- The consent of the workers must be obtained in writing.
If the request for unpaid leave is made by the worker, the request must be accepted in writing and the answer must be given in writing.