COVID-19 outbreak, which was announced to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020, the date on which the first case was encountered in Turkey, inevitably had certain impacts on the economic life. The measures taken to minimize these impacts had eventually forced labour law to be restructured according to the pandemic circumstances. In this respect, duration of compensatory working practice, which is stipulated under the Labour Act, has been increased.
As per Article 64 titled “Compensatory Working” of the Labour Act, in the events where i) the work stops for compulsory causes, ii) the workplace is closed before or after the national and general holidays, or iii) the following occurs for similar reasons;
- Normal working hours are significantly decreased at the workplace; or
- The workplace is closed completely; or
- The employee is granted leave on request;
the employer is entitled to impose compensatory working for the off periods within two months, and such work is not qualified as overtime working or working for extra hours.
However, with the Law No. 7226 on Amendment of Certain Laws (“the Amendment Law”), published in the repeated Official Gazette dated 26 March 2020 and numbered 31080, it has been set forth that the employer will be entitled to impose compensatory working within four months, whereas it was previously stipulated as two months. Furthermore, as per the Amendment Law, it has been provided that the President will be entitled to increase this term up to two times.
Also, it must be noted that, as per Article 64 of the Labour Law, compensatory working cannot be imposed on holidays, and cannot exceed three hours per day, on condition that it is not above the daily maximum working hours.
9th Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation has ruled that, with the decision dated 17.3.2008 and numbered 2007/27667 E. and 2008/5298 K., termination of an employee who abstained from compensatory working practice exceeding three hours per day, which was imposed on a Saturday at a workplace where Saturday is set to be a contractual holiday, is not qualified to be relying on a just or valid reason. Therefore, as per the Court of Cassation decision referred above, compensatory working cannot be imposed on Saturday for the employees who do not work on Saturdays.
To conclude, in scope of the measures taken to minimize the negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on economic life and business life, duration of the compensatory working practice has been increased from two months to four months. In this regard, the employers will be entitled to impose compensatory working for the off periods within four months, once the impacts of the current extraordinary circumstances on enterprises are reduced, and the activities return to their ordinary course. We would like to further note that, employee’s consent is not sought for implementing compensatory working.
Authors: Beril Yayla Sapan & Asena Aytuğ Keser
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