Companies in Turkey re-evaluated their remote work rules during the pandemic. This has led to an amendment to the labor law.
The amendment outlines the procedures and details for onboarding remote workers. The Regulation on Remote Work that helps employers understand the legalities around hiring remote employees was announced in March.
“Because of the pandemic, the remote work tendency has increased. So the regulation has been drafted to actually [align] with the new requirements and the new practices born out of this remote work.”Altuğ Özgün, Attorney with Cetinkaya in Istanbul
Highlights of New Remote Work Rules
- The employer and the employee must be bound by a written contract before starting remote work.
- Employers and employees must come to a mutual agreement on the definition and kind of work, the working hours, the duration of this remote work setting, payment methods for salary payments, and the equipment and tools that will be provided to the employee by the employer.
- The arrangement must be mutually agreed upon, except in extreme circumstances.
“The regulation doesn’t say that there is a requirement by an employer to choose remote work, but it only says that under some conditions the employee may request it, and upon the agreement of the employer, the remote-work relationship can start. During some force-majeure times, like a pandemic or an earthquake or something else, the employer can also decide to continue to work in a remote-based relationship. … Other than that, you cannot change the employment conditions only with the employer’s decision. You need to have the consent of the employee as well.” Altuğ Özgün, Attorney with Cetinkaya in Istanbul
This amendment has been in discussion since 2016. However, it is the pandemic in 2020 that led to remote work becoming the norm and subsequently pushed for the new amendment to be made.
Having said that, making changes to traditional Turkish work culture to allow new remote work rules could be a challenge.
“In Turkish culture, we are very based on verbal relationships rather than written relationships. I’m hearing from my colleagues, especially from managers or directors, that they found it very hard to assess whether the employees are working efficiently or not. And the quality of the communication has decreased dramatically. During this pandemic, my colleagues who are working remotely say that they cannot really understand whether their manager is upset or happy from an e-mail conversation.”Altuğ Özgün, Attorney with Cetinkaya in Istanbul
According to Özgün, multinational companies in Turkey are more likely to continue allowing remote work than domestic ones.
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