Rights of the Employee on Mandatory Annual Leave

Annual leave is a basic employee right secured by the Labor Legislation. Every worker who completes one year at the same workplace is entitled to paid annual leave. 

According to the law, while the worker cannot give up this right, the employer is responsible for the use of the leave. Thus, can the employer put his workers on annual leave? What are the rights of the workers whose employer put them on compulsory annual leave?

Annual Leave Right in Legislation

Annual leave is granted in proportion to the seniority period of the workers working for the same employer for a minimum of 1 year. The entitled leave is to be taken in the next service year. The leave days entitled are as follows according to the Turkish labor law:

  • 14 days for those with seniority between 1-5 years (inclusive),
  • 20 days for those with seniority between 6-14 years (inclusive),
  • 26 days for those with 15+ years (inclusive).

If the worker is 18 years old or younger, or 50 years old or older, a minimum of 20 days of leave is required by law. For workers working in underground work, 4 days are added on top of these leave days.

These periods are minimum leave requirements by law; more days of annual leave can be determined by employment contracts or collective agreements.

Who Determines When/How to Take Annual Leave?

When to take leave is determined by the worker who is required to request his leave in writing at least 1 month prior to the requested leave date. However, the laws give the employer the right to say the final word, taking into account the order of the workplace and the continuity of work. The leave request by the worker can be rejected by the employer after evaluating the workload and leave days of other workers. In order to evaluate this process, it is necessary to establish a “leave board” or “leave representatives” at the workplace in accordance with the procedures and principles specified in the Annual Paid Leave Regulation.

It is mandatory to establish a leave board at workplaces employing 100 or more workers. In workplaces with fewer than 100 workers, this task is carried out by a person appointed by the employer / employer representative and a representative designated by the workers. Leave committee or the leave representatives are in charge of matters such as submission of leave request schedule to the approval of the employer, severance period of the workers and follow-up of the leave entitlements. The employer has the approval authority.

The employer can determine the periods of the year the annual leaves can be taken in the workplace by consulting the leave board or the permission representatives. The employer must do this by announcing it to all workers at the workplace. When determining the leave period, the work’s nature, workload and other criteria are taken into consideration for business continuity.

It is also the employer’s authority to set an annual leave period for the workplace. In a workplace that has only set summer months as an “annual leave period”, the employer may not give permission to the employee who wants to use annual leave during the winter.

Worker and Employer Rights Regarding Leave

The employer does not have to approve the leave dates requested by the employee. After consulting with the leave board, the employer can conclude that the overall leave schedule of workers would lead to disruption of work and ask the particular worker to request other leave dates. 

The worker who works without an annual leave despite his request and whose leave right is prevented by the employer, can terminate his employment contract for a just cause.

In case the worker does not request any annual leave, the employer can take the worker on annual leave without his approval. It is not possible for the worker to renounce or prevent the worker’s right to rest. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the worker’s right to rest. Therefore, putting a worker on a mandatory annual leave will not give the worker the right to terminate the employment contract.

It is the worker who decides on the number of leave days. Annual leave days cannot be divided by the employer, as required by law, it is essential to take them as a whole without interruption. However, if the parties agree upon the request of the worker, the leave can be taken in parts but a minimum of 10 days rule applies.

Differentiation of Annual Leave from Other Leave Types

Annual leave should be differentiated from medical leave, notice period, job search leave, excuse leave, unpaid leave, and maternity leave. All other paid and unpaid leaves are excluded from the annual leave.

The annual leave period of the worker who receives a medical leave (rest report) while on annual leave is to be extended as long as the medical leave’s period. At the same time, week holidays, national holidays and general holidays within the annual leave are not counted as annual leave.

Right to Unpaid Road Leave

In cases where the worker will spend his annual leave in another city, he also has the right to unpaid road leave. For this leave, the worker who will go to another city for his annual leave can use an unpaid road leave for up to 4 days. The employer is obliged to approve this leave upon the worker’s request.

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