The fulfillment of an employee’s job duties outside the workplace is referred to as remote work. Remote work can be performed at home or outside the workplace using technology. It is a working method that we have encountered extensively in recent years due to the pandemic. The proliferation of remote work has raised various questions in the Turkish labor market. Discussions revolve around the nature of remote work, the formal requirements for establishing remote work, and whether remote work can be carried out in every job. While academic literature and expert opinions continue to address the details of remote work, this article will focus on engaging in remote work with individuals living abroad.
According to the remote work regulations, remote work performed outside the employee’s home can only be done using technological communication tools. The work performed remotely must not be among the “jobs that cannot be performed remotely” specified in the regulations, and it must be suitable for remote work in practice. A written remote work agreement must be signed, according to both Article 14 of the Labor Law No. 4857 and the recently published Remote Work Regulation. The contract should specify the job description, the method of performance, and the duration of the work. The time period and duration of remote work should be stated in the employment contract. The arrangements regarding the location where remote work will be carried out should be completed before starting the work. The employer is responsible for informing the remote worker about the protection and sharing of data related to the workplace and the work performed as well as taking necessary precautions for data protection. The remote worker is required to comply with the company rules established by the employer for the protection of personal data. Occupational health and safety measures must also be taken for remote workers working abroad.
Remote Work by Employees Residing Overseas
Upon agreement between the employee and the employer, remote work can be carried out at the request of the employee or due to compelling reasons. According to the Labor Law, the employee and the employer can determine the place of work through their contract. The provisions of the “Remote Work Regulation” mentioned above also apply to employees who work remotely while living abroad. However, issues around wages, annual leave, public holidays, occupational health and safety, working hours, and working conditions are subject to discussion for employees working remotely from abroad. The assessment of remote work carried out abroad depends on many factors such as where the work is actually performed, where the benefits and outcomes of the work occur, where the wages are paid, and where the employment relationship is established. There is no definitive judgment on whether the labor laws of the workplace will change in the case of remote work carried out from abroad.
There are also certain risks regarding social security in remote work conducted from abroad. When an employee’s insurance is registered with a company established in Turkey while the employee is abroad, the passport records, the dates of entry and exit from the country by the employee are transferred to both the Social Security Institution (SSI) workplace file and the employee’s SSI records. These files are checked when the employee applies to the institution for rights arising from the Law, such as retirement and incapacity for work. When registering an employee with an insurance at a company established in Turkey while the employee is physically abroad, an examination can be carried out to determine whether the services are based on actual work. The units responsible for inspection and audit within the Social Security Institution pay attention to certain issues during inspections. Documents such as international assignment documents, overseas travel allowances, records of meetings conducted by the employee on behalf of the company abroad, issued invoices, and other official documents related to payments made to the employee (salary, bonuses, etc.) can be requested by the institution. Additional information and documents may also be requested by the inspection staff. The evaluation of remote work conducted from abroad will be determined based on the results of the inspection.
It is important to pay attention to the above-mentioned points in order to ensure the continuity of remote work by an employee residing abroad and the proper execution of work within the framework of the law. However, it should be noted that since the provisions regarding remote work in our legislation are relatively new, certain practices have not yet been clearly defined. It is important to apply the existing laws and regulations and seek expert opinions in such cases.