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Differences between Turkish and Dutch Labor Law

Every country regulates labor differently depending on its national policies and strategies. This article summarizes some of the differences between Turkish Labor Law and Dutch Employment Law.

Labor law identifies the minimum rights and obligations for the employer and employee. In addition to the labor law, the rights of the employer and employee may also be strengthened by the contract they agree upon. There are several differences between Turkish and Dutch Law that stand out:

1)      Discrimination

2)      Working hours

3)      Minimum wages

4)      Working conditions and rights

5)      Maternity leave for women

6)      Employment ending

Ad 1    Both in the Turkish and Dutch constitution, discrimination on any ground whatsoever is prohibited. In the Dutch Equal Treatment Act and The Turkish Labor Law, discrimination on the following grounds is explicitly prohibited: religion, personal benefits, political opinion, race, sex, nationality etc. However, Dutch law has also specified the sexual orientation as one of the main anti-discrimination areas

Ad 2    Regarding the working hours in the Netherlands, the employee should not work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. Depending on the industry, a maximum of nine hours per day and 45 hours per week is possible, but no one is allowed to work more than 2.080 hours a year. Consequently, the average working time in a week in the Netherlands is approximately 40 hours. There is also the option of a “four-day week” meaning that the employee can work 10 hours per day. In order to benefit from this option a specific agreement with the employer should be made in advance (http://www.iamexpat.nl/career/main/environment). There are also some rare exceptions which are used in particular situations.

According to Turkish Labor Law, working time is a maximum 45 hours per week. Unless the contrary has been agreed upon, working time shall be divided equally by the days of the week. Provided that the parties have so agreed upon, working time may be divided by the days of the week provided that the daily working time does not exceed 11 hours. In this case, within a time period of 2 months, the average weekly working time of the employee shall not exceed the regular weekly working time of 45 hours.

Ad 3    The minimum wages in the Netherlands is 1.495 euro for the ages 23-65 in 2014. The minimum wage in Turkey is 891 TL(~300 euro) in Turkey. (at 26th of  August 2014)

Ad 4    The working conditions and rights of the children are also regulated by legislation, both in Turkey and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, the minimum age for employment is 16 years, and for full-time employement, it is conditioned on completion of the mandatory 12 years of schooling. Holiday work and after-school hours jobs are tied to very strict rules, which are set in the Work-Time Act, the child labor regulation (for children under 16 years), and the Working Conditions Decree. For instance, people under 18 are prohibited by law from working at night, or in areas which could be dangerous to their physical or mental well-being. Children over 12 years are allowed to perform some types of labor, as long as the work is not done during school hours. For children over 12 only, easy non-industrial work, easy work in connection with school, and delivering morning papers are allowed. As stated by Turkish Labor Law, employment of children who have not completed the age of 15 is prohibited. However, children who have completed the full age of fourteen and their primary education may, be employed on easy assignments that will not hinder their physical, mental and moral development, as long as it does not prevent their school attendance. The types of works where employment of children and young employees who have not completed the full age of 18 is prohibited. However, exceptional circumstances are determined in a regulation by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Ad 5   Another topic that is regulated in both of the countries is the maternity leave for women. As stated by Dutch regulation, employees have the right to 16 weeks of maternity leave. During this maternity leave, the employee will receive certain minimal benefits from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). The employer will have to pay at least 70% of the last earned wages (Article 7:629 Dutch Civil Code), but can deduct the aforementioned benefits. According to Turkish Labor Law, in principle female employees must not be engaged in work for a total period of 16 weeks, 8 weeks before confinement and 8 weeks after confinement. In case of multiple pregnancies, an extra 2 week period shall be added to the 8 weeks before confinement during which female employees must not work. However, a female employee whose health condition is suitable as approved by a physician’s certificate may work at the establishment if she so wishes up until the three weeks before delivery. If the female employee wishes, she shall be granted an unpaid leave of up to 6 months after the expiry of the 16 weeks, or in the case of multiple pregnancy, after the expiry of the 18 weeks which is indicated above.

Ad 6   Finally, both of the countries also regulate the ending of employment. According to Dutch Law, the contract can be terminated in various ways;

  • By expiry of the agreed term (temporary contract);
  • Notice (dismissal) by employer or employee;
  • Termination by mutual consent;
  • Setting aside of the contract by the court;
  • Death of the employee.

This article is just a brief comparison between Dutch and Turkish written rules on Labor law. Especially in Turkey these rules are not always applied in practice. It is therefore not uncommon to encounter children working on construction sites. As economic circumstances in Turkey improve, these extreme situations luckily become more rare.

Göksu Özok