Access to the labour market

Turkey

Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

Asylum seekers may apply for a work permit after 6 months following the lodging date of their international protection application.[1]

The principles and procedures governing the employment of applicants or international protection beneficiaries shall be determined by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services in consultation with the Ministry of Interior.[2] On that basis, the Regulation on Work Permit of Applicants for International Protection and those Granted International Protection adopted on 26 April 2016 confirms that applicants may apply to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services for a work permit through an electronic system (E-Devlet) after 6 months from the lodging of their asylum application.[3]

Applicants must hold a valid identification document in order to apply,[4] meaning that those applicants who do not hold an International Protection Identification Card – due to Admissibility grounds or the applicability of the Accelerated Procedure – are not permitted to apply for a work permit. In any event, it would be difficult for these categories of applicants to obtain a right to access the labour market given the general 6-month waiting period to apply for a work permit.

An exemption from the obligation to obtain a work permit is foreseen for the sectors of agriculture and livestock works. In these cases, however, the applicant must apply for an exemption before the relevant Provincial Directorate of Family, Labour and Social Services.[5] The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services may introduce province limitations or quotas in these sectors.[6] More generally, the Regulation entitles the Ministry to impose sectoral and geographical limitations to applicants’ right to employment, without providing further detail as to the applicable grounds for such restrictions.[7] In addition, applicants cannot be paid less than the minimum wage.[8]

In the Cohesion Strategy and National Action Plan (2018-2023)[9] priorities for the labour market, include:

– Providing reliable and standardised information on labour market;

– Research on professional qualifications of migrants and access to the labour market;

– Protection of right to work as well as information on rights and working conditions.

The action plan includes:

– A website with information on conditions for access to the labour market depending on status;

– Awareness raising on rights and working conditions;

– Strengthening recognition of migrants’ qualifications.

In an interesting case Istanbul Marmura Magistrate Court examined the situation of a person who had a deportation decision who was found to be working without a work permit. An administrative fine of 249 TL had been charged. In its judgment the Court noted that the person had to survive and to do that had to work. Although there had been a violation of a specific law from the constitutional perspective there was no violation as the person had to survive. The fine was cancelled.[10]

In practice, it currently takes the authorities 1-2 months to process work permit applications.[11] The number of work permits issued to the main nationality groups of asylum seekers from 2015 to 2018 remains meagre. The following table refers to work permits issued to Afghan, Iraqi and Somali nationals, not necessarily limited to applicants for international protection:

Work permits issued to Afghan, Iraqi and Somali nationals: 2015-2018

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

Afghanistan

305

444

609

823

Iraq

692

1,031

1,137

1,365

Somalia

0

0

0

0

Source: (former) Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Work permit statistics: https://bit.ly/2U5RJyB. Source 2018: http://bit.ly/33mO6GN.

 

Although there are not updated statistics for 2019, reports quote 113,134 work permits issued to immigrants in Turkey between January to October 2019, mainly to immigrants from Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Russia.[12]

Applicants for international protection continue to face widespread undeclared employment and labour exploitation in Turkey, similar to temporary protection beneficiaries (see Temporary Protection: Access to the Labour Market).

The Regulation also foresees the possibility for applicants to have access to vocational training schemes organised by the Turkish Job Agency (İŞKUR).[13] In practice, Public Education Centres under provincial Governorates and İŞKUR offer vocational courses to asylum seekers in many localities.

A new project was launched in early 2020 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on creating accelerators for entrepreneur refugees in Turkey.[14] According to research, in the nine years since the Syrian crisis, over 10,000 companies have been established in Turkey by Syrians that have created around 100,000 jobs and Syrian businesspeople have invested over 1,5 billion TRY in Turkey.[15]

 


[1] Article 89(4)(a) LFIP.

[2] Article 89(4)(ç) LFIP.

[3] Articles 6-7 Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[4] Article 6(1)-(2) Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[5] Article 9(1) Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection. Provisionally, however, these applications are lodged with the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services: Provisional Article 1 Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[6] Article 9(2) Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[7] Article 18(1) Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[8] Article 17 Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[9]See DGMM, Uyum Strateji Belgesi ve Ulusal Eylem Planı 2018-2023, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2VIssZY.

[10] Istanbul Marmura Magistrate Court decision 2018/8, date 2 February 2018.

[11] Refugees International, I am only looking for my rights: Legal employment still inaccessible for refugees in Turkey, December 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2ylz434, 5.

[12]Hürrıyet, ‘Türkiye 113 bin yabancıya iş kapısı oldu’, 14 December 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2wNKGRp.

[13] Article 22 Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.

[14]More information is available at: http://bit.ly/3aZ4CiF.

[15]See, UNDP Turkey, UNDP to Bring Turkish and Syrian Businesses Together at Mersin, 16 January 2020, available at: http://bit.ly/33q1Ikp.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Turkey
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection