Managing a Workforce in Turkey Versus the US: 5 Key Differences




Multinational employers operating in both the US and Turkey need to be aware of each country’s employment laws that apply throughout the employment relationship.  While there are numerous nuances between the laws in the US and Turkey, some laws in particular are more strikingly different than others.  A US employer may find some of Turkey’s laws more onerous than that which it is accustomed to.

Below are five key employment law differences between the US and Turkey global employers need to know:

1.       Employee Leave and Vacation

Turkey provides employees with greater leave rights than under US federal law in terms of maternity and vacation. With respect to leave entitlements, eligible Turkish employees are entitled to receive the following:

  • 16 weeks of maternity leave, starting eight weeks before the expected date of birth and ending eight weeks after the birth;
  • 3 days’ paid leave on the occasion of their marriage;
  • 3 days’ paid leave in the event of the death of their parent, spouse, child or sibling;
  • 3 days’ paid leave if they adopt a child;
  • 5 days’ paid leave for male employees in the event of their spouse giving birth; and
  • 10 days of paid leave per year for a parent to care of his or her child with a severe disability or a chronic disease.

Employees who have completed one year of service with their employer (including any probationary period) are entitled to paid annual leave entitlement of between 14 and 26 days, depending on length of service. In addition to paid annual leave, employees are entitled to a paid day off on various public holidays, for a total of 14.5 days per year.

2.       Wage and Hour

In the US, nonexempt employees are entitled under federal law to overtime at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. An employee may be entitled to additional overtime or other premium pay under state laws.

In Turkey, where an hours-averaging scheme is in operation, only hours worked in excess of an average of 45 hours per week over the reference period are considered overtime and must be paid for overtime hours at least 50% above the normal hourly rate. If an employee’s agreed normal weekly working time is less than 45 hours, hours worked in excess of the agreed normal working time, but less than 45 hours per week are not considered overtime but instead “additional” hours to be paid at a premium rate of at least 25%.

There is also a cap on the number of hours overtime permitted each year (270 hours).

3.       Sunday Work

Although some states restrict Sunday work, no federal law prohibits employees from working on Sundays in the US.  Turkey on the other hand, requires that an employee’s statutory weekly rest day must generally fall on a Sunday, unless the employer and employee agree otherwise.

4.       Employment Contracts

In the US, there is no legal requirement for a written contract, and most employees do not have one because they are employed at-will.  In Turkey, an employment contract is established when an offer of work is made by an employer and accepted by an employee with the intention of creating an employment relationship.  Written employment contracts must be drafted in the Turkish language. Contracts may be written in another language alongside the Turkish language but, in the event of a dispute, the Turkish version will prevail.

5.       Notice Period

In Turkey, during the notice period, the employer must allow the employee to take time off for at least two hours per day during working hours, without loss of pay, to seek new employment, regardless of whether it is the employer or the employee that gives notice of termination. If the employee requests and gives advance notice, the entitlement to time off may be added together and taken in a single block. If the employer does not grant time off or grants less than two hours of time off per day, it must pay the employee double his or her wages for the time off not taken.  There is no comparable requirement in the US.