Working in Turkey

Hours, culture, working conditions

Turkey´s Labor Code defines the work week as 45 hours. Major companies are open from 8:30-17:00, Monday through Friday, though this often changes depending on the job.

In spite of the law, there is no standard work week in Turkey. While corporate employees may indeed work 45 hours a week with little overtime, foreigners working in the tourism industry (especially in the bar and restaurant sector) may find themselves assigned much longer hours.

You may be surprised to see children working in service and even industrial industries. Turkish workers are eligible for full-time employment at the age of 15, and widespread poverty means that many of them take full advantage of it. Children as young as 13 are eligible for part-time employment so long as it is not hard physical labor and they are attending school. Even still, illegal child labor is not uncommon in Turkey, especially among poor and rural families.

Vacations and holidays in Turkey

Most Turkish companies offer two weeks vacation time each year. It takes years of loyal work before this amount increases, and unsurprisingly, it does not apply to part-time workers or most English teachers. These groups have to remain content with one day off a week.

Foreign workers should not expect all standard western holidays (such as Christmas and Easter) to be recognized by their employers unless they work at major international companies. Time off is given for Turkish holidays, however, unless you are working in the tourism industry. If so, you will have to wait for the slow winter season. Many part-time employees work 7 days a week during the busy summer tourist season.

Turkish unions

Full-time employees benefit from union support, though Turkish unions face certain restrictions that unions in other countries do not. For example, for unions to be legally recognized as bargaining agents they must represent 10 % of Turkish employees in their field. In addition, there are certain industries that are not allowed to strike: education, national defense, sanitation and utilities fall into this category.

All things considered, you might say that the Turkish Labor Code is still a work in progress. Therefore, do not be afraid to stand up for yourself in the workplace if you feel you are being mistreated.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: