Working in Turkey as an expatriate offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in a vibrant culture, develop professional networks, and gain invaluable international experience. However, understanding the local regulations and requirements governing employment is critical to ensuring a smooth and rewarding work experience in the country. With this comprehensive guide, we aim to provide expats in Turkey with the essential knowledge they need to navigate the complex landscape of Turkish employment regulations.

Turkey, being a diverse and dynamic country, presents intriguing possibilities for expatriates in search of new professional opportunities. However, to maintain a legally compliant, enjoyable, and fulfilling career in Turkey, it is essential for expats to be aware of the various rules and requirements surrounding their employment. Familiarizing oneself with these regulations can help avoid potential legal disputes, ensure fair treatment, and facilitate a hassle-free working experience.

Throughout this article, we will address crucial topics, including the process of obtaining a Turkish working permit, the key components of an employment contract, and employee rights under Turkish law. As expatriates in Turkey, understanding these issues is vital in order to maintain full compliance with local regulations and secure a positive working environment.

Obtaining a Work Permit: Steps and Requirements

Before expats can begin working in Turkey, they must obtain the appropriate work permit from the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security. The application process consists of several steps, starting with the employer submitting a preliminary request for the permit on behalf of the prospective employee. Next, the expat must apply for his or her work visa at a Turkish consulate in their home country, providing the required documentation, including:

  1. A passport with at least six months validity beyond the visa's issuance date
  2. A completed visa application form with a recent passport-sized photograph
  3. An employment contract or offer letter from the Turkish employer
  4. Proof of educational and professional qualifications relevant to the position

Once the work visa is granted, the expat must enter Turkey and apply for a residence permit at the local immigration office within 30 days. Keep in mind that the application process can take several weeks, so it is advisable to begin the process well in advance of the proposed employment start date.

Understanding Employment Contracts and Conditions

Upon obtaining a work permit and residence permit, an employment contract should be agreed upon and signed by both the employee and the employer. Ideally, the contract should be written in both English and Turkish and cover crucial information, such as:

  1. Job title and description
  2. Start date and duration of the contract
  3. Salary and payment terms
  4. Working hours and overtime pay
  5. Holiday entitlements and leave policies
  6. Probation period, if applicable
  7. Terms of termination

A thorough understanding of the employment contract is essential for expats to ensure their rights are protected and to avoid misunderstandings with their employers.

Employment Rights and Obligations: What Expats Need to Know

Expats working in Turkey are afforded the same rights and obligations as Turkish citizens. Familiarizing oneself with these protections and requirements can help ensure a successful employment experience. Some key employment rights and obligations include:

  1. Work Hours: The maximum working week in Turkey is 45 hours, usually split across six working days. Employees may work more hours with overtime pay, but overtime should not exceed 270 hours per year.
  2. Leave Entitlements: Employees are entitled to paid annual leave – 14 days for employees with at least one year of service, 20 days for those with five or more years, and 26 days for workers with 15 or more years of experience.
  3. Sick Leave: Employees can take sick leave when necessary, with the employer responsible for covering a portion of wages for a specific period, depending on the worker's length of service.
  4. Maternity and Paternity Leave: Female workers are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave (with additional leave granted for multiple births), while fathers receive five days of paternity leave.
  5. Workplace Safety: Employers must provide a safe working environment, adhering to local regulations and ensuring proper training of employees in occupational health and safety.

Taxation and Social Security: Making Contributions

Expats employed in Turkey are subject to income tax on their earnings. The tax rate is progressive, ranging from 15% to 35%, depending on the taxable income. Employers are responsible for deducting these taxes from the employee's salary and making the necessary contributions on their behalf.

In addition to taxes, expat workers must also contribute to Turkey's social security system, which covers pensions, health insurance, and unemployment insurance. The employer and employee each contribute a percentage of the employee's gross salary to the social security fund. Expats should familiarize themselves with these contributions to ensure they are meeting all legal requirements and making proper financial plans.

Termination of Employment and Severance in Turkey

In the event of termination, employees in Turkey have certain rights, including notice periods and severance pay. Notice periods depend on the employee's duration of service, ranging from two to eight weeks. Severance pay is applicable to those who have worked for at least one year and amounts to 30 days' salary for each year of service.

If an employee becomes unemployed, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Eligibility depends on meeting certain criteria, including having paid into Turkey's unemployment insurance fund for a specified period.

Exploring Entrepreneurship and Freelancing in Turkey

For expats seeking to establish their own businesses or work as freelancers in Turkey, specific regulations and requirements must be followed. Starting a business in Turkey involves several steps, such as obtaining a tax ID number, registering a trade name, and procuring necessary licenses and permits. Freelancers should secure a valid work permit and residence permit, maintain proper documentation of income and expenses, and meet all taxation and social security obligations.


Understanding and abiding by Turkish employment regulations is vital for expats working or seeking work in the country. By familiarizing themselves with work permits, employment contracts, taxation, and social security matters, expats can ensure a compliant and gratifying professional experience in Turkey. Armed with this knowledge, expats can confidently pursue their chosen careers in this dynamic, expanding economy while embracing the enriching cultural opportunities that working in Turkey offers.

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