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Cross Border Employment: Is it Legal in Turkey?

Cross Border Employment: Is it Legal in Turkey?

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Considering the environmental, social, political and economic developments, it is considered as a more profitable and efficient way for companies located abroad to employ foreign nationals in Turkey. If certain conditions are met, it is possible to meet the demands of companies in this direction. Persons who will work in Turkey are required to obtain a "work permit" in accordance with the rules and criteria set by the International Labor Law No. 6735.

While 21st century which is also called “information age” or “digital age” puts technological developments, pandemics, political developments, and demographic changes are seriously transforming the rules and needs of business life. Especially with the disruption of the business operations around the world due COVID-19 pandemic and being forced employers to close their doors indefinitely, finding a fast alternative to traditional in-office work has become critical to maintaining a sustainable business model. Many companies have adapted to the "remote working" practice as much as possible and have started to update their business models in accordance with the "remote working” method. Remote working and hybrid working models, which have recently entered our lives, are expected to be a part of working life after the pandemic. Thus; the legislator did not ignore this situation and in this direction the “Remote Working Regulation” entered into force on 10.03.2021.

Considering all of these developments, employing foreign citizens in Turkey by companies located abroad can be considered as a more profitable and efficient way for them. If certain conditions are met, it can be said that it is possible to fulfill the demands of the companies in this direction.

What is Required for Foreign Citizens to Work in Turkey?

People who will work in Turkey are required to obtain a "work permit" in accordance with the rules and criteria set by the International Labor Law No. 6735. The work permit is issued by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services of the Republic of Turkey. Since the work permit gives the foreigner the right to reside within the borders of the Republic of Turkey, there is no need to obtain a residence permit for the foreign national after the permit is granted.

In order to obtain a work permit, first of all, there must be an employment contract between the foreign citizen to be employed and the employer. Afterwards, the employer must apply to the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services of the Republic of Turkey to obtain a work permit. This application can also be made electronically.

In order for the company located abroad to have the title of "employer" in Turkey, it must have an active workplace or establish a new workplace within the borders of Turkey, and if it does not exist, this company should establish a new company within the borders of Turkey.

How Difficult is it to Establish a New Company in Turkey?

If the type, capital and field of activity of the company planned to be established are determined, the company establishment procedures can be completed in a very short time and effortlessly.

What are the Criteria for Obtaining a Work Permit?

Applicable law and competent authorities seek a number of criteria for the employer to employ foreign workers. Some of these criteria are briefly mentioned below;

  • Five citizens of the Republic of Turkey must be employed for each foreigner in the workplace for which a work permit is requested. In case the foreigner requesting a permit is a company partner, the aforementioned "five-person employment requirement" is sought for the last six months of the one-year work permit to be given by the Ministry.
  • The paid-in capital of the workplace must be at least 100,000 TL or its gross sales must be at least 800,000 TL or the last year's export amount must be at least 250,000 USD.
  • The foreign partner of the company requesting permission must have at least 20 percent of the capital, provided that it is not less than 40,000 TL. 
  • The monthly wage declared to be paid to the foreigner by the employer must be at least as follows;

     - It must be 6.5 times the minimum wage for senior managers and pilots,

     - It must be 4 times the minimum wage for unit or branch managers, engineers and architects,

     - It must be 3 times the minimum wage for those who will work in jobs that require expertise and mastery and for teachers,

     - It must be the minimum wage for foreigners to be employed in domestic services and also it must be 1.5 times the minimum wage for foreigners to be employed in other professions,

     - The minimum wage must be doubled for foreigners who will work in animation organization companies as acrobats and similar titles, and for foreigners who will work in jobs such as masseurs, masseuses and SPA therapists.

As of the date of this article, the minimum wage, is 5.004 Turkish Liras in gross.

The criteria sought are not limited to the above, other criteria may be sought depending on the nature of the job or there may be certain relevant exceptions.

What is the Sanction of Working Without a Work Permit?

Administrative and penal sanctions may be imposed on foreign employees without a work permit, as well as the risk of deportation of the foreign citizen. Administrative fines for employees who do not have a work permit are as follows;

For employers who employ foreigners who do not have a work permit, for each foreigner they employ: 16,066 TRY

For foreigner working under an employer without a work permit: 6,423 TRY

In addition, the employer or employer's representative must cover the accommodation expenses, the necessary expenses for their return to their country and when necessary, health expenses of the foreigner who does not have a work permit and, if any, of his/her spouse and children. If these expenses and costs are covered by the budget of the Directorate General of Migration Management, the amounts paid in accordance with this article are collected from the employer or employer's representative in accordance with the "Law on Collection Procedure of Public Receivables" dated 21/7/1953 and numbered 6183.

If certain conditions are met, it is possible for foreign citizens to work in Turkey. It is possible for companies located abroad to employ foreign nationals by establishing a company within the borders of Turkey and obtaining work permits from the relevant authorities. If the parties agree, the relevant employees can also work remotely in line with the "Remote Working Regulation". In the light of above information; getting professional consultancy service has a critical importance for pursuance the processes regarding company establishment processes, obtaining a work permit and the execution of other necessary procedures and process follow-up.

By Onur Kucuk, Managing Partner, and Alperen Kocalan, Associate, KP Law

KP Law at a Glance

Based in Istanbul, Turkey, KP Law is an independent full-service law firm providing multidisciplinary solutions to the clients worldwide. With over 55 lawyers and specialists, KP Law makes the best of agile & holistic approach as a strategic partner to your business with well analyzed reality checks, risk monitoring and pragmatic solutions. The firm has a distinguished status with built trust, a consistent high quality and stands out as a preferred vendor of Big4 as well as large size consultancy firms. Thanks to this accumulated knowledge and track record international experience, the team is intensely committed to high quality strategic approach and value-based delivery with commercial awareness and deep understanding of industry dynamics.

KP Law is led by Founding Partner Att. Onur Kucuk, a skilled negotiator, trusted by top executives, multinational clients to advise on critical projects and large-scale, cross-border transactions with 25+ years of experience in corporate and M&A. He leverages his professional and communication skills to be an inspiring leader for each and every one of his teams. He is a prominent speaker, author, and lecturer with contributions to industry publications and mainstream press, in cooperation with various organizations including Harvard Business Review Türkiye, Bahçeşehir University, and Board Membership Mentoring and Development Program and member of International Bar Association (IBA).

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