In the wake of the Soma mine disaster in May, the Turkish Parliament recently adopted a law amending numerous employment and social security laws and regulations and imposing new responsibilities and liability in connection with the use of subcontractors. Many of these changes apply to all employees of subcontractors, while others are limited to the mining industry.
Mining industry-specific changes
Effective 11 September: In addition to statutory annual paid leave, miners working underground are now entitled to an additional four days' leave. The retirement age for underground employees has also been reduced from 55 to 50, and now includes entitlement to a seniority payment without the previous minimum requirement of one year of seniority. Also, the minimum salary for miners' work in lignite and anthracite coal mines cannot be less than two times the statutory minimum salary provided by law, i.e., TRY 2,268 (approx. USD 1,015).
Effective 1 January 2015: Underground work hours for a miner cannot exceed six hours per day and 36 hours per week. Moreover, miners cannot be forced to work overtime except in the urgent cases specified in the Labor Code. If miners do work overtime, their hourly wage is doubled per each overtime work hour.
Changes applicable to all subcontracting
Employers must monitor whether their subcontractors have fully and timely paid employee salaries. If the employer finds that a subcontractor has failed to pay its salaries, the employer must deduct equivalent amounts due to the subcontractor and deposit the payments directly into the subcontractor employees' bank accounts.
In addition, employers utilizing subcontractors must now ensure that their subcontractors' employees take all annual paid leave provided by law. To facilitate this, subcontractors must provide employers the annual paid leave records which subcontractors are required to keep by law.
Actions to consider
Employers using subcontractors should work with their subcontractors to implement mechanisms for ensuring compliance with the Labor Code, including timely payment of salaries. Furthermore, mining companies should monitor whether their subcontractors allow their employees to use all of their statutorily mandated annual paid leave.