Remote working has been explicitly regulated in Turkish Law since the amendment made in Labor Code numbered 4857 (the “Code”) in 2016. As stated in Article 14 of the Code, remote working refers to the employment relationship built with a written agreement, based on the principle that the employees perform their work at home or outside the workplace with technological communication tools within the scope of the work organization established by the employer.
Although the Code provides provisions on remote working, due to the increase in the tendency to work remotely after the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become necessary to regulate the legal issues in employment relationships within the scope of remote working. Therefore, the Regulation on Remote Working (the “Regulation”) entered into force with its publication in the Official Gazette numbered 31419 and dated 10 March 2021.
The regulations on the procedures and principles of the remote working set out under the Regulation are as follows:
Form and content of the employment agreement:
Employment agreements related to remote working shall be concluded in writing. The provisions on the description of the work, the method of conducting the work, the duration and the place of work, issues regarding the salary and the payment of the salary, the working tools and equipment provided by the employer and the obligations on the protection of the respective tools and equipment, the communication rules between the employer and the employee along with the other general and specific conditions of work must be explicitly regulated in the respective employment agreements.
Arrangement of the workplace:
If necessary, arrangements for the place where the remote working will be performed must be completed before the work starts. The method of covering the costs arising from such arrangements shall be determined jointly by the employer and the employee.
Supply and use of materials and working tools:
Unless otherwise agreed in the employment agreement, materials and working tools required for the production of goods and services shall be provided by the employer. The usage principles, maintenance, and repairment conditions of materials and working tools must be notified to the employee. The list of working tools and their values on the date of delivery to the employee must be submitted to the employee in writing by the employer. A signed copy of the submitted document will be kept by the employer in the employee's personal file.
Covering the production expenses:
Details of determining and covering the necessary expenses directly related to the production of goods and services arising from the performance of the work must be specified in the employment agreement.
Determination of the working hours:
In the employment agreement, the time interval and duration of remote working shall be specified. Working hours may be changed by the parties within the framework of the restrictions stipulated in the legislation. According to legislation, overwork shall be done upon the written request of the employer and the approval of the employee.
The employee and the employer will determine the method of communication and the time interval during the remote working.
The employer must inform the employee about the business rules and legislation related to the protection and sharing of data about the workplace and the work. The employer is also obliged to take the necessary measures for the protection of data. Business rules established by the employer to provide data protection must be followed by the employee. The definition and scope of the data to be protected must be determined by the employer in the contract.
Measures regarding occupational health and safety:
By taking into consideration the nature of the work done by the employee, the employer is obliged to inform the employee about the occupational health and safety precautions, to provide necessary training, to ensure health surveillance, and to take the necessary occupational safety measures related to the equipment provided to the employee.
Transition to remote working:
Parties can agree to remote working at the beginning of the employment relationship. However, the current employment agreements can also be converted into remote working agreements upon the agreement of the parties.
Further, the employee has the right to request a transition to remote working. Upon the written request of the employee, the employer evaluates the request in accordance with the procedure specified in the workplace. The employee must be notified of the evaluation result within thirty days. In case of the acceptance of request by the employer, the employment agreement must be concluded in line with the Regulation.
The employee transferred to remote working can later request to work again at the workplace. A request for work in the workplace is subject to the procedure established for a request for remote working.
If remote working will be applied to the whole or part of the workplace due to force majeure, the request or approval of the employee will not be sought for the transition to remote working.
For further queries, please contact:
Dogukan Berk Aksoy, LL.M.
Attorney at Law