Supreme Court Decision: Changing Working Days Qualified for Severance Pay

Current legislative provisions regulating business relations that determine the rules in working life are largely carried out in accordance with the Labor Law No. 4857. Working hours in the workplaces are regulated in Article 63 of the law and applied as 45 hours at most and divided equally by the working days of the week unless otherwise agreed. As stated in the law, the employee and the employer can make changes in working hours in accordance with the rule of 45 hours per week, provided that they do not exceed 11 hours a day.

In case of a change in the current working conditions after the employment relationship has been established between the employee and the employer and the employment contract is signed, the principles determined by the law should be followed. In Article 22 of the Labor Law, “… can make a fundamental change in working conditions only by notifying the worker in writing. Changes that are not made in accordance with this form and not accepted in writing by the worker within six working days do not bind the worker. ” It has been clearly stated that the parties must mutually agree in order to change the working conditions.

Supreme Court’s Decision on the Subject

Changes in working conditions have been a subject of controversy many times and resulted in exemplary judicial decisions. As a matter of fact, it is stated in the article 22 of the Law no. 4857 that the worker may file a lawsuit according to the provisions of the Articles 17 and 21 in case of possible termination.

In the 2016/10753 decision of the 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, is as follows:

  • The plaintiff worker claimed that the working conditions have changed from 5 days on weekdays to new working hours including Saturday with a document, which he signed fait accompli, and requested severance pay, overtime, annual leave and last month’s wage from the employer.
  • The defendant employer demanded the rejection of the case, arguing that the new regulation did not contain any issues contrary to the employment contract, since all receivables were paid at the time of the worker’s exit.

Based on the evidence collected and the expert report, the local court rejected the severance pay and overtime claims, and decided to accept the annual paid leave and wage.

However, the decision was appealed and the severance pay claim was accepted on the grounds that this change, which worsened the working conditions, was contrary to the contract concluded at the beginning of the business relationship and that the worker did not have a statement that he accepted in the documents he signed regarding the new working arrangement, and that the employment contract was terminated by the employee for a justified reason.

Based on this Supreme Court decision, it can be concluded that in case of a fundamental change in the working schedule, the worker must have a written statement proving that he accepts the new work arrangement. In cases where the employee does not have a declaration of acceptance, the employment contract may be terminated for a just cause and severance pay may be requested.

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