The Turkish Labour Law defines the working week as a maximum of 45 hours per week spread evenly over five or six working days. Workers are entitled to at least one day of rest in each week. Work outside the standard hours may be paid as overtime subject to the agreement of your employer. Typical office hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm, but some employees give an extended lunch break on Fridays to allow Muslim staff to observe Friday prayers.
In Turkey, annual leave is given to employees who have completed a year’s service and entitlement increases on a progressive scale thereafter. The minimum entitlement under working legislation is:
- 14 working days for employees with 1 to 5 years of service
- 20 working days for employees with 6 to 14 years of service
- 26 working days for employees with over 15 years of service
Although these are the legal minimums, some employers offer their own holiday scales on an incentive basis. Sick leave and maternity leave are also usually paid in Turkey, so ask your employer for details of the terms.
Turkey has six national holidays each year, the dates of which usually remain unchanged. Labour law states that employees are entitled to these dates as paid leave. Alternatively they should receive time off in lieu or an additional day’s pay instead. Turkey also observes a number of regional and religious holidays including the major Islamic festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Public holiday dates
New Year’s Day: 1st January
National Sovereignty and Children's Day: 23th April
Labour and Solidarity Day: 1st May
Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day: 19th May
Victory Day: 30th August
Republic Day: 29th October
Visas and eligibility to work
Turkey operates a limited visa exemption system which allows citizens from some countries to visit for between 28 and 180 days without a visa. To check whether you will require a visa to gain entry and see the visa costs, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. If you wish to apply for a residence permit, you must visit your local police station within 30 days of your arrival to do so. To work in Turkey as a foreign national you will also need a work permit. Residence and work permits must be renewed periodically and a fee applies each time. While Turkey generally welcomes foreign workers, be aware that some professions are restricted to Turkish nationals only.
If you remain in Turkey for the long term, you can apply for Turkish citizenship which would remove the need to renew visas or permits. To gain citizenship you must be of adult age and have lived in Turkey for 5 years or more. You may also need to prove that you speak some basic Turkish, have no criminal record and have some means of supporting yourself in Turkey.
Tax and social security
The tax year in Turkey runs from January to December. Income is taxed on a sliding scale depending on your earnings, with tax rates ranging from around 15% to 35%. Tax is usually paid quarterly, although most employers will deduct it directly from your wages. To work in Turkey, you must apply for a tax number through your local tax and finance department. Generally speaking you are considered resident for tax purposes after living in Turkey for six months, although some foreigners on fixed contracts are exempt from income tax. You may also be required to pay social security contributions, although exemptions may be made if you are paying social security in your home country.
Pensions and benefits
Foreign nationals living and working in Turkey may be entitled to some benefits if they are contributing to the social security fund, but some are restricted to Turkish citizens only. For more information, visit the Social Security Institution website. Some employers offer access to private pension funds as part of their overall remuneration package.
Under the Turkish Disability Act, employers in Turkey are obliged to offer employment opportunities for disabled people. Unusually, there is a quota system in place for larger businesses, although this is not always strictly enforced.