Request for Retrospective Breastfeeding Leave

Turkish Labor Law grants working women a breastfeeding leave upon finishing their maternity leave. Working mothers are entitled to 1.5 hours of breastfeeding leave per day until their child reaches the age of 1. Breastfeeding leave is recognized as an assurance for women within the 74th article of the Labor Law numbered 4857 in order for them to balance work life and motherhood.

“Female workers are given a breastfeeding leave of one and a half hours a day to breastfeed their children under one year old. The employee determines herself the time and frequency of breastfeeding based on her individual needs and work needs. This period is considered as part of the daily working period. “

As a result, breastfeeding leave, which is a paid leave, cannot be deducted from the wages of the working mother. 

Can Breastfeeding Leave Be Used Collectively?

There is no provision regarding the collective use of breastfeeding leave in the Labor Law. However, in some judicial decisions, it is of the opinion that collective use of breastfeeding leave is harmful because it conflicts with the purpose of breastfeeding, and in essence, breastfeeding leave should be given for the baby at different time intervals and at certain periods in order to meet the needs of the baby. Collective use of breastfeeding leave is negatively evaluated.

What Should Be Done If Breastfeeding Leave Is Not Used?

In the Labor Law, there is no administrative sanction for employers that do not allow breastfeeding leave.

Administrative fines may be imposed on the employer who does not allow breastfeeding leave due to not conforming with the Article 104 titled “Violation of the Provisions Regarding the Regulation of the Work” of the Labor Law numbered 4857. An administrative penalty is stipulated for the employers who employ pregnant women or women who have given birth during the periods before and after the birth or who do not give unpaid leave in contradiction with the provision of the article 74, but they are not included in the scope of violating the breastfeeding leave included in the Labor Law.

Working mothers can terminate their employment contract for justified reasons if their breastfeeding leave is not granted.

Can One Request Breastfeeding Fee Instead of Breastfeeding Leave?

Although the Labor Law emphasizes the need for breastfeeding, considering the health of the mother and the baby, there is no provision regarding whether the wage will be paid if this leave is not given by the employer. The following decision was made by the Supreme Court regarding the breastfeeding leave fee:

if the employer does not grant its employee breastfeeding leave and makes her work despite her breastfeeding leave request, the compensation for these works must be paid as overtime wage. And this overtime pay can be applied in retrospect. For example, a female worker who has not been granted breastfeeding leave can claim a wage for 5 years retrospectively (conform with statute of limitations). According to Article 32 of the Turkish Labor Law, any worker who was not granted breastfeeding leave can demand an increased wage for the past 5 years.

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