LexisNexis

Implications of Turkey’s Remote Work Regulation

Monday 13 December 2021

N Can Artüz
Bozoglu Izgi Attorney Partnership, Istanbul
can.artuz@bi.legal

Simge Kublay Can
Bozoglu Izgi Attorney Partnership, Istanbul
simge.kublay@bi.legal

M Tuğrul Demir
Bozoglu Izgi Attorney Partnership, Istanbul
tugrul.demir@bi.legal

Introduction: remote work in Turkey

Pursuant to Turkey’s new Remote Work Regulation (the ‘Regulation’) (No 31519), dated 10 March 2021, the rules for remote work must be outlined in a written contract. The contract must capture:  

  • job description;
  • duration and location of the remote work;
  • how the work is conducted;
  • agreed salary and terms regarding payment;
  • equipment to be provided by the employer and the obligations for the protection of such;
  • method of communication between the employee and employer;
  • arrangement of the working environment;
  • payment of expenses arising directly from the production of goods or services; and
  • data protection measures and measures regarding occupational health and safety.

While the list appears long, every aspect may be captured in a short employment contract or in an additional protocol. Even though employment contracts for indefinite duration are not required to be made in writing in Turkey, it is of note that any employment contract regulating remote work must be made in writing.

There are some works that may not be performed remotely. This includes any company working with hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, or the disposal of such materials, or where these materials are being processed and/or involve working processes with risk of exposure to biological effects. Other than the above, there are no statutory limitations on the types of work that may be conducted remotely, provided the nature of the business is suitable for remote work.

Eligibility of non-Turkish nationals for remote work

In Turkish labour legislation, namely the Labour Law (No 4857) and relevant regulations including the Regulation, the term ‘employee’ is defined as ‘a real person working with an employment contract’. It is not relevant whether the employee is of Turkish nationality or not in either the Labour Law or the Regulation. Thus, for the purpose of conducting remote work, it does not make any difference if the employee is a Turkish national or not. However, a non-Turkish national requires a valid work permit and enrolment in Turkey’s social security system to be able to work in the country, whether physically or remotely.

Work permits

The main legislation regulating work permits for non-Turkish nationals is the International Labour Force Law (No 6735). According to the International Labour Force Law, any non-Turkish national must hold a work permit to be able work in the country.

There are four work permit categories:

  1. A definite term work permit is the most common work permit. The permit holder must be employed by the employer and carry out their role in the workplace stipulated on the permit. The permit is valid for up to one year at first issuance.
  2. An indefinite term work permit will only be issued to a non-Turkish national if they have held a definite term work permit for at least eight years or if they hold an indefinite residency permit.
  3. An independent work permit is a special type of work permit issued under specific conditions. The permit enables the permit holder to work for any employer or to establish their own workplace.
  4. A turquoise card is an exceptional type of work permit that appeals to highly skilled foreign workers looking to relocate to the country. It requires a recommendation from the International Labour Force Committee.

A non-Turkish national requires one of the above work permits or an exemption from holding a work permit to work remotely from Turkey. As there are many special conditions and/or exemptions, legal advice should be sought when making an application.

Social security enrollment

If the non-Turkish national is to work in Turkey for more than three months, they must be enrolled in the Turkish social security system (though people from countries that have social security agreements with Turkey are exempt).

The terms, conditions and exemptions vary greatly under the individual social security agreements between countries. Local professional advice should therefore be sought regarding social security issues for those intending to work in Turkey for more than three months.

Conclusion

While there are no limitations arising from Turkish labour legislation regarding working remotely from Turkey, the main challenges for non-Turkish nationals are obtaining the appropriate work permit and obliging with the social security enrollment rules, both of which require careful consideration since conditions may differ on a case-by-case basis.