Effects of COVID-19 on Work

1. What are the measures that the employer should take in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The employer is obliged to take occupational health and safety measures and protect the health, physical and mental integrity of the worker within the scope of the debt of supervising the worker. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Law, ensuring the health and safety of the employees is among the obligations of the employer.

In this context, the Occupational Health and Safety Board, if any, is gathered and announced to the employees by determining the action plan and measures to be taken; It is recommended to ensure compliance with the measures taken by the employees and to carry out conformity checks continuously.

With the “Measures to Be Taken by Occupational Health and Safety Professionals within the Scope of the New Coronary Virus” at the Workplace, published by the General Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety on 25 March 2020, the use of service vehicles, travel, entry and exit to the workplace, working environment, meetings and trainings and cafeteria Minimum requirements for rest areas have been determined. In the guide, it is stated that additional measures should be taken in accordance with the characteristics of the employers such as the field of activity of the workplace, the number of employees, the working environment, the methods used, and the announcements of the competent authorities should be followed.

2. Can the employer measure fever at the time of their employment or ask employees to inform them if they show the symptoms of COVID-19?

There is no obstacle in measuring the fever of employees or obtaining information about disease symptoms by the workplace doctor. However, if personal data containing health data cannot be collected through the workplace physician or it will not be possible to provide it continuously, it is important to obtain clear consent of the employees regarding the processing of the health data to be collected and to provide appropriate illumination in all cases in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Law.

3. If an employee shows symptoms of COVID-19, is there an obligation to report this to the employer?

Employees are expected to share their illness symptoms with the employer in accordance with their loyalty debt and the obligation not to endanger the health and safety of other employees.

As an employer, it is recommended to develop policies to encourage employees in this direction and to inform the COVID-19.

4. Is it possible for the employer to leave employees on annual leave during the COVID-19 outbreak ?

Although, as a rule, the annual leave request must come from the employee, there are opinions that, in view of the extraordinary situations created by the COVID-19 epidemic, a flexibility in this requirement can be created for this period and that it is possible for the employer to be on annual leave by the employer.

5. Is it possible for the employer to provide her employees with collective leave during this process?

In accordance with the Annual Leave Regulation, it is possible for the employer to apply collective leave for all or some of its employees from the beginning of April to the end of October. In this case, the employer may exclude a sufficient number of workers from collective leave for compulsory situations such as the protection of the workplace, maintenance, cleaning or security of the tools and equipment in the workplace.

6. Is it possible for the employer to leave employees for free leave during this process?

Unpaid leave can only be applied if the employee and employer agree mutually. Free leave can be offered by the employee or by the employer; however, the employer cannot force an employee to go on unpaid leave. Insistence by the employer in the unpaid leave offer that is not accepted by the employee may mean termination of the employment contract in the actual sense and may result in invalid termination. In this case, severance and notice pay should be paid to the employee. If the conditions are met, the employee will also be able to sue for reinstatement.

7. In workplaces temporarily closed by administrative decisions do the parties have the right to terminate?

In case of temporary closure of the workplace by administrative decisions taken by the state institutions within the scope of COVID-19 combating measures, a compelling reason will arise for the termination of the employment contract for both the employee and the employer, and the rightful termination of the employment contract may be in question for both parties. In order for this right to arise by law, a one-week waiting period is foreseen for both parties. If the contract is terminated by either party at the end of this waiting period, the employee will be entitled to severance pay.

8. If the workplace is temporarily closed by administrative decision, does the employer’s obligation to pay wages continue?

During the one-week waiting period, the employer is obliged to pay the employee half an amount for each day.

9. What are the conditions to benefit from the short-time working allowance?

In order for the employees to benefit from the short-time working allowance, the weekly working hours at the workplace should be reduced by at least one third, or the activity at the workplace should be temporarily stopped, at least for four weeks, not to exceed three months. If the employer’s application is approved, the Agency will pay the workers a short work allowance for a maximum period of 3 months.

With the Law No. 7226 on the Amendment of Some Laws that entered into force on March 26, 2020, the conditions for benefiting from the short-time working allowance for employees were extended for short-term applications made due to compelling reasons originating from the new coronavirus (Covid-19). In this context, the employee has to work without interruption in the last 60 days prior to the start of the short work and have been paid an unemployment insurance premium for at least 450 days in the last three years.

However, in order to benefit from the employer’s short-time work, it is not necessary to employ workers in the short-work period. The only exception to this situation is termination with just cause.

10. When can compensation work come to the agenda?

In cases where the work is stopped due to compulsory reasons, or if it is worked significantly below normal working hours in the workplace for a similar reason, or is entirely holidayed, or if the employee is given permission outside of their contractual or legal permits, the employer can make compensatory work within four months. Compensatory work can not be more than three hours a day, provided that it does not exceed the maximum working time of 11 hours per day, and compensatory work is not considered as overwork. The President is empowered to double the four-month period.

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