New Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic on the Economic and Social Life and the Law regarding Amending Certain Legislation numbered 7244 (17/04/2020)

  • Amendments to the Labour Law:

LIMITATION ON TERMINATION AND UNPAID LEAVE (FURLOUGH)

Within the scope of the Law, Temporary Article 10 is included in the Labour Law numbered 4857 and provisions related to temporary employment assurance are regulated.

“TEMPORARY ARTICLE 10- Regardless of the fact whether or not they are regulated under this Law, no employment or service agreement can be terminated by the employer, except for breach of integrity and goodwill principles regulated under subparagraph (II) of the first paragraph of article 25 and similar reasons under relevant provisions of other laws, for a period of 3 months as of the enforcement date of this article.

The employer may make the employee use unpaid leave (furlough) partially or completely, provided that it shall not exceed 3 months as of the enforcement date of this article. Using unpaid leave under the scope of this article does not entitle the employee to terminate the agreement with just reason.

The employer that terminates the employment agreement in violation of the provisions of this article will be subject to an administrative fine for each unlawfully terminated employee, amounting to monthly gross minimum wage applicable on the date of such termination.

The President of Turkey is entitled to extend the periods of 3 months up to 6 months.”

AMENDMENT ON SHORT-TERM WORKING

With the Law, temporary articles 24 and 25 are included in Unemployment Insurance Law numbered 4447 and certain significant amendments related to short-term working are regulated. The relevant regulation is stated in detail below:

“TEMPORARY ARTICLE 24- A salary support in cash in the amount of 39.24 Turkish Liras per day will be paid from the [Unemployment] Fund to the employees, who are working under employment agreements but put on unpaid leave by the employer as per temporary article 10 of the Law numbered 4857 and who cannot benefit from short-term working allowance on the enforcement date of this article, and employees, whose employment agreements are terminated within the scope of article 51 after 15 March 2020 and who cannot benefit from unemployment allowance as per other provisions of this Law, provided that they are not receiving a retirement pension from any social security institution and that the period, in which termination cannot be performed as set forth in temporary article 10 of the Law numbered 4857 is not exceeded, for the duration of unpaid leave or unemployment within such period. No deductions can be made on the payments, except for stamp duty. In the event it is determined that the employee, who has taken unpaid leave and is benefiting from salary support in cash within the scope of paragraph 1, is actually being employed, an administrative fine amounting to the monthly gross minimum wage on the date of performance of the act that is determined in accordance with article 39 of the Law numbered 4857 will be applied separately for each employee employed as such and for each month of employment by the provincial directorates of Labour and Employment Agency and the paid salary support in cash is collected from the employer, along with the legal interest to accrue as of the payment date. Among the persons who benefit from salary support in cash within the scope of this article, persons that are excluded from the scope of persons insured under general health insurance or dependents of such persons pursuant to the Law numbered 5510 are considered as persons insured under general health insurance within the scope of subparagraph (g) of paragraph 1 of article 60 of the same Law and their premiums related to general health insurance are covered by the Fund. The ministry is authorized to determine the principles and procedures for payment related to salary support in cash and to remove any ambiguities that may arise in respect of the implementation of this article.”

“TEMPORARY ARTICLE 25- Payment related to short-term working is performed in accordance with the declarations of the employers, without waiting for the completion of the determination of suitability, in respect of the short-term working applications due to the reason of force majeure that are made by the employers due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Excessive payments and improper payments made due to the provision of wrongful information and documents by the employer will be reimbursed from the employer along with their legal interest.”

In addition to the above mentioned, “except for determinations of suitability” expression is added to the last sentence of paragraph 2 of Temporary Article 23 of Unemployment Insurance Law numbered 4447 and the relevant article is regulated as follows. 

“TEMPORARY ARTICLE 23- In order to be applicable until 30 June 2020, in relation to the short-term working applications made with the reason of force majeure arising from the new coronavirus (Covid-19), the provision related to the meeting of entitlement conditions to unemployment insurance, except for termination of the service agreement that is stipulated for entitlement to short-term working allowance by the employee set out in paragraph 3 of additional article 2, shall be applied as payment of premiums for unemployment insurance and being worked subject to insurance for 450 days in the past 3 years in respect of the employees that are subject to employment agreement within the last 60 days prior to the commencement date of the short-term working. Employees who fail to meet those conditions will continue to benefit from the short-term working allowance for the period remaining from the last unemployment allowance right ownership, provided that it does not exceed the short-term working period. In order to benefit from short-term working within the scope of this article, the employer must not terminate employees, except for reasons set out in sub-paragraph II of the first paragraph of article 25 of Labour Law numbered 4857 during the term of the short-term working applied at the workplace. The applications made in respect of this article will be concluded in 60 days following the application date, except for determinations of suitability. President of Turkey is authorized to extend the date of application to be made under this article until 31 December 2020 and to amend the number of days stated in the first paragraph above.”

  • Amendments to the Turkish Commercial Code

With the provisional article added to the Turkish Commercial Code, the dividend payments have been restricted for companies until 30 September 2020.

By these changes to the Law, it has been regulated that until 30 September 2020, the companies may only distribute up to 25% of the net profit for the financial year 2019, and no dividends can be distributed from profits of previous years or reserved funds. The companies with more than 50% of shares owned directly or indirectly by the state are exempted from this provision. 

It has been regulated that this restriction, which is effective until 30 September 2020, may be further extended by the President for 3 months or may be shortened.

In cases where a general assembly meeting decision was taken by the shareholders regarding the distribution of dividend for the financial year of 2019, however, no payments were yet made to the shareholders, fully or partially, the payments relating to the portion that exceeds 25% of the net profit for the financial year 2019 will be deferred until 30 September 2020 (as may be extended or shortened).

For Amendments made to other laws see: https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2020/04/20200417-2.htm

Law amending Higher Education Law 7243 and other laws (17/04/2020)

Within the scope of Covid 19, the following article has been added to the Law on National Education:

  • “Teachers are on two-month leave during the summer holidays. However, they are obliged to participate in vocational studies that will be determined by the regulation during the holidays, which remain untouched for these two-month leave periods.
  • Counseling teachers can be assigned during the leave and vacation periods, if needed, in the studies to be carried out depending on preference counseling, field and course selection, student identification process. In this case, the leave of guidance teachers cannot be less than a month.
  • If education and training activities cannot be completed within the academic year due to pandemics, natural disasters, unfavorable weather conditions affecting the general life in the district, province or country, the leave of teachers can be shortened by the Ministry of Education due to the educational activities to be carried out during the summer holidays. In this case, the leave of teachers cannot be less than a month.
  • Teachers assigned to administrative positions as second task and teachers working in educational institutions without face-to-face education and teachers assigned to the Ministry's central organization and provincial/district national education directorates (including management) may use their annual leaves according to the provisions of article 102 of the Civil Servants Law No. 657 and the first paragraph of Article 103. School principals and vice-principals may use their leaves in a determined order, on condition that they arrange and organize their school work during the holidays. ”

Statement of Ministry of family, Labour and Social services regarding Short Term- Working Allowance (16/04/2020)

  • It is announced that the payments will be made in line with the employers' declaration, without waiting for the completion of the determination of compliance in order to make payments quickly for short term workings. 
  • Expressing that they secure the employees with the law proposal adopted on 16 April 2020, Minister Selçuk said that any employment or service contract cannot be terminated for a period of 3 months.
  • He stated that during the 3-month period, employment or service contracts could not be terminated, except for certain just causes, and an administrative fine of gross minimum wage at the date of termination would be imposed, if any. 
  • Employees who are entitled to unpaid leave and who cannot benefit from the Short-Term Work Allowance and who an unemployed after March 15, receive a monthly leave of 1,177 TL and those who benefit from cash wage support will be considered as General Health Insured and the insurance premiums will be met from the unemployed fund.
  • It is also reported that the income criterion and severe disability requirement for the elderly and disabled people who need institutional care are temporarily removed for 3 months.

Statement on the Regulation on Working Hours to be Applied in the Pharmacies by the Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists on Saturday, 18 April 2020 within the Scope of Curfew (15/04/2020)

  • The number of pharmacies on duty in Istanbul was tripled, and schedules for drug sales and services have been announced.

The Decision on the Draft Procedures and Principles Regarding Application for Termination of Subscription Agreement via e-Government Gateway by Information and Communication Technologies Authority (15/04/2020)

  • In the electronic communication sector, the Draft Procedures and Principles Regarding Application for Termination of Subscription Agreement via e-Government Gateway in order to allow the subscription applications to be made by the subscribers through the e-Government Gateway in accordance with the legislation; It was unanimously decided to publish it on the website of the Authority for ten (10) days in order to obtain a public opinion in accordance with the provision in the first paragraph of Article 44 of the Information and Communication Technologies and Authority Regulation.

The Decision on the measures taken by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority regarding Consumer Rights (15/04/2020)

  • During the Covid-19 outbreak process, it is decided that some physical reports that operators should send in accordance with the authorization legislation can be sent electronically in this process.
  • It is decided to meet the RL frequency demands in the 7-13-80 GHz band that the operators need to meet their increased capacity needs; provided that the minimum information is provided.
  • Necessary coordination is provided with the relevant institutions for the convenience of the base station license and facility for uninterrupted mobile communication services.
  • Operators are instructed on the measures to be taken, including working from home, so that call center services are not adversely affected by this process.
  • Operators were informed about providing discounted flexibility and convenience to subscribers providing in terms of bill payment, line restriction, closure, enforcement follow-up 
  • Considering the effects of the pandemic by sending printed invoices, a decision was made to allow invoices to be sent by e-mail and SMS.
  • In order to reduce physical contact during the pandemic process, subscribers have an opportunity to receive subscription applications via their own web pages, to receive related contracts after the signing by the consumer and to deliver to the operator.
  • Following the signature of the subscription contract, it has been extended to 4 months, taking into account the conditions that it is necessary to display it in the online transaction center within 3 months.
  • Following the signature of the subscription contract, the period to be transferred from the dealer to the operator’s archive has been extended to 3 months from 2 months.

The Decision on the measures taken by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority regarding the Postal Sector (15/04/2020)

  • The list of employees who need to travel between cities, in case of necessity, has been received from the service providers for the postal services to be carried out without interruption and has been sent to the relevant institutions.
  • Service providers have been instructed to have adequate human resources available and to ensure staff redundancy to ensure that postal services, which are in the nature of public service, can be operated without disruption.
  • Within the framework of the measures proposed by the Ministry of Health, service providers have been informed that they should check the state of health of the employees.
  • With the condition that the required distance between the customer and the employee is kept constant, arrangements have been initiated in branches/agencies to have three people at the same time or as many customers as the number of employees providing related services.
  • Considering the recommendations of the Ministry of Health; during this period, signature and Turkish Republic contactless delivery methods (such as the door front, mailbox) have been implemented without the identification number of the user.
  • Necessary notifications were made to the service providers to give priority to the delivery of hygiene products and medical supplies which can be transported within the Law and be required by the relevant institutions.

Statement on the Supervision of Markets and Supermarkets by the Ministry of Interior (15/04/2020)

  • In accordance with the General Sanitary Law and the relevant article of the Turkish Criminal Code, judicial or administrative proceedings were applied to the markets for those who do not provide service between 09.00-21.00 throughout the country, the number of customers is more than one-tenth of the total area served directly to the customer, and do not comply with the social distance rule inside and outside the market.

Statement by the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services on additional measures regarding the Nursing Homes (14/04/2020)

  • It has been stated that particular attention is paid not only to fever measurements, but also to hypothermia (body temperature below 36 degrees), and the number of respiration is followed in the follow-up forms of the elderly in nursing homes.
  • In order to minimize the risk of contamination; 64.000.000 TL allowance has been sent to nursing homes for cleaning, Labouratories, medical supplies, medicines, and other special supplies.
  • It has been stated that they have been carrying out all preventive measures quickly, including keeping the elderly returning from Umrah in quarantine for 14 days in a specially equipped household social service establishment and implementing a 14-day fixed shift practice in all private-official nursing homes.
  • It has been stated that elderly people who will stay on leave with their relatives will not be charged to nursing homes during their leave.

Decision taken by the President (14/04/2020)

The people will be exempted from the first article of the Law on the Amendment of the Goods and Services Tariffs Produced by Public Institutions and Organizations and Certain Regulation numbered 4736 in order to benefit from:

  • All kinds of personal protective equipment recommended for use against disease,
  • Tests, kits and other equipment used in the diagnosis of the disease,
  • Medicines provided centrally for use in the treatment of disease.

 This decision will come into force on the date of its publication, effective from 1 March 2020.