As the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe, the virus has become a primary concern for employers in Turkey.
The President of the Turkish Republic delivered a speech on March 18, 2020 where he stated that the government will furnish short-term working allowances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the application process for short-term working allowance will be facilitated and shortened.
In this regard, the Law No. 7226 on Amendments to Certain Laws (“Law“) was published in the (second) Official Gazette dated March 26, 2020 and numbered 31080. The Law, among others, also amends the Law No. 4447 on Unemployment Insurance (“Law No. 4447“), in terms of the short-term working allowance.
What Does the Law Say?
The amendments entered into force on March 26, 2020 and are applicable retroactively as of February 29, 2020. These amendments relate to applications for short-term working due to COVID-19.
Pursuant to the Law:
- Applications for short-term working due to COVID-19 can be filed until June 30, 2020.
- Employees must fulfill certain conditions, such as paying unemployment insurance premiums and having worked under an employment for a certain period, to benefit from the short-term working allowance. The time periods for these conditions have been reduced in relation to short-term working allowance due to COVID-19.
Accordingly, employees who (i) paid unemployment insurance premiums for at least 450 days in the three years prior to the start of the short-term working; and (ii) worked under an employment agreement for the last 60 days prior to the start of the short-term working, can benefit from the short-term working allowance due to COVID-19.
- Employers are required not to terminate any employees during the short-term working period in order to be able to benefit from the short-term working due to COVID-19. The only exemption is if the employer terminates an employee for just cause due to the reasons that are contrary to ethics and goodwill and similar cases as regulated under Article 25/1-II of the Labor Code No. 4857.
- Applications for short-term working allowance due to COVID-19 shall be evaluated within 60 days as of the application date.
- The Presidency of the Turkish Republic is authorized to extend the application for short-term working due to COVID-19, until December 31, 2020.
COVID-19 substantially affected Turkey and the Turkish employment practice. The government continues to take certain steps to provide assistance to employers. We recommend employers to monitor all developments as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.