· Features

A postcard from... Turkey

Our 'postcard from' series keeps your updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

Turkey was ranked as the third fastest-growing G20 economy in the third quarter of 2017, outstripping China and India. Its success is partially due to the lira’s fall in 2017. Exporters rolled out more than 1.54 million lira into car models including Renault, Peugeot and Toyota, most of which were to be exported to countries in the EU.

However, Turkey’s economic performance has been significantly tested over the past few years. Political disruption, including war with the so-called Islamic State and tensions with the West, has recently threatened the Turkish economy. But after the failed coup in 2016 it has slowly begun to pick up.


The population of Turkey stands at just 80 million and is relatively young, with 25.9% falling into the 14 and under age bracket. According to the OECD from 1990 to 2008 the population grew by 29%. Islam is the largest religion in Turkey according to the state, with 99.8% automatically registered as Muslim (anyone whose parents are not of any other recognised religion is registered as this). In 2017 the unemployment rate stood at 10.3%.

Legal lowdown

Employment law in Turkey is governed primarily by trade union and labour laws. Any work beyond 45 hours in a single week is considered overtime, which is compensated with a 50% raise of the worker’s hourly rate. There are no standard work weeks or regulations for specific working hours in Turkey; employers may arrange the number of days and decide on the specific hours worked. Any employment arrangement lasting at least one year must be expressed in a written contract.

Employee benefits

To benefit from the Turkish social security system residents must enrol on the Turkish Social Security Fund (SGK). However, agricultural workers, the self-employed, and people receiving benefits from other organisations in the system are not eligible for SGK benefits.

Turkish employment law allows pregnant women 16 weeks’ maternity leave, with eight weeks to be taken before the birth and eight after. It is not possible to take the whole period of leave after the birth. There are six paid public holidays per year plus two paid periods of religious holiday.

From the HR frontline

Heather Buglass, HRD for Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and China at pladis Global, reports that building trust with colleagues is important. It’s common to have very close friends at work, and colleagues will be keen to ask detailed questions, she adds. She explains that Turkey’s young workforce is especially tapped in to social media and new technology. “Flexibility, agility, and resilience” are all distinctive traits among Turkish workers, Buglass says.