Private employment agencies

Private employment agencies only officially entered the market in late 2003. Before this date, they did exist but as consultancy organisations with limited activities. In 2003 the Labor Law (4857) acknowledged private employment agencies as a private-sector alternative to ISKUR, the public employment agency, and granted them the authority to:

  • act as an intermediary in providing employees with jobs suitable to their qualifications; and
  • assist employers in finding employees qualified for different kinds of work.

Private employment agencies can act as alternatives to ISKUR by obtaining a licence from the Ministry of Labour.

Most major corporate employers in Turkey prefer private employment agencies, but the state has not granted the same support and privileges to them as to ISKUR. In particular, mid-sized employers struggle to benefit from their recruitment services efficiently. However, private employment agencies are undeniably more flexible at providing business solutions.

Temporary employment

The May 2016 amendments to the Labour Law regarding temporary employment will open up an additional business line for private employment agencies.

The concept of temporary employment was introduced into Turkish law in 2003, and aims to create flexibility for employers, particularly those with seasonal, variable workloads. This type of seasonal employment is also a necessity for agricultural employers, as well as those acting in the tourism sector. From the union standpoint, trade unions dislike this working concept because it hinders their influence and prevents long-term relations with workers in the workplace. According to the recently amended Labour Law, the total number of temporary workers should not exceed one-quarter of the total headcount in a workplace. However, most collective bargaining agreements contain stricter provisions regarding the volume and term of temporary employment due to the hostility of trade unions towards temporary work. The headcount limits prevent widespread temporary employment, especially in unionised sectors such as metal work, the automotive industry and textiles.

Before the May 2016 amendment, temporary work relations could be established only between holding companies or companies that are engaged in the same or similar activities. A company could only assign its employees to temporary work with a company under the same holding umbrella as the employee's principal employer or in the same sector. Following the amendment, private employment agencies can also provide temporary workers to employers and may establish temporary work relations for their temporary workers.

Under the new regulation, private employment agencies will be the principal employer of temporary employees and will be required to carry out a written agreement with them covering their working conditions. The temporary working period at each workplace can be for a maximum of four months and may be renewed only twice, provided that the total working period at any workplace does not exceed eight months. While the new regulation grants a new service line to private employment agencies, being the principal employer of temporary workers will create significant legal responsibilities for them.

However, employers using temporary worker services remain ultimately responsible for providing compensation to the temporary employees if it is not provided by the private employment agency, and for ensuring equality between full-time and temporary employees. For example, if a private employment agency does not make the salary payment on time and in full, the employer using the temporary worker services can deduct these amounts and directly pay them to the temporary worker for up to three months. In addition, employers must grant the same rights to temporary workers as to full-time workers with the same duties. The equal treatment rule applies to all aspects of employment, including workplace safety.

In order to prevent the abuse of temporary employment, the amendment prohibits employers from hiring former employees as temporary workers, unless six months have elapsed since their terminations.

The temporary employment amendment strictly prohibits temporary work in the mining sector due to serious accidents in past years caused by a lack of workplace safety measures, as well as the weak bargaining position of mineworkers against their employers.

Considering the new role of private employment agencies in temporary employment, their business domain is likely to expand in the near future and more employers will seek out their services. However, private employment agencies will have to deal with more employment disputes as a result of their heightened responsibilities towards employees.

For further information on this topic please contact Tolga Danisman or Bige Göksel at Hergüner Bilgen Özeke by telephone (+90 212 310 1800) or email (tdanisman@herguner.av.tr or bgoksel@herguner.av.tr). The Hergüner Bilgen Özeke website can be accessed at www.herguner.av.tr.

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