The rights ensured through law, contracts and workplace procedure should be claimed within the legal period.
If not, the problem of statutory limitations will arise for the employee.
Statutory limitation stands for the maximum time for the right to claim due wages after which the case will not qualify for legal proceedings. As the definition suggests, the right to claim the due wages is not removed but it turns into “imperfect obligation” and it can be no longer subject to a law suit. In this respect, once the statute of limitations on a case runs out, if a party raises it as a defense and that defense is accepted, any further litigation is foreclosed and the court will not be able to examine the facts of the case.
In partial lawsuits, the fact that the rights pertaining to surplus is reserved does not invalidate statutory limitations for the reserved part; it only invalidates the amount of the debt that is subjected to the case. As long as it is not objected that the defense is extended; a late claim for statutory limitations does not hinder an examination.
Statutory limitations start when the debt is accelerated. In other terms, the statutory limitations begin when the debt is accelerated (matured, payable and immediate.) When the acceleration of the debt is bound at a notification, statutory limitations begin on the day the notification is made.
Conditions for statutory limitations can be listed as:
a) Existence of a debt to which the statutory limitations can be applied
b) Acceleration of the debt
c) Running out the statutory limits defined in the law
While calculating the period of limitation, the day on which statutory limitations started is not counted and the statute of limitations is valid only after the last day of the period passed without any claim.
According to article 125th of Turkish Code of Obligations, as long as no other date is defined in the law, the statutory limitation period for any case is ten years. In other words, if no special period is defined, any case is subjected to period of limitations after ten years.
Article 126th of Turkish Code of Obligations, on the other hand, defines debts and cases that are subject to five years of statutory limitation. Accordingly, subordinates or employees of second party, servants, day-laborers and employee wages are subject to five years of statutory limitation period.
The wages are paid within one month at the latest. That period can be reduced up to one week with employment contracts and collective labor agreements.
Wage may be paid on a monthly basis at the latest. The time of remuneration may be reduced down to one week by employment contract or by collective agreement.
Upon the expiration of the employment contract, employee’s wage claims as well as all the benefits based on the employment contract and law must be paid in full.
Statutory limitation on wage claims is five years. If the debt is payable on the day of payment, it is claimable. This is the start of statutory limitations period. The limitations accrue throughout the service contract. Statutory limitation on wage claims is five years. The unclaimed rights of a working employee which are gained seven years ago are subject to statutory limitation. Upon any claim from the employee, the employer can sue for statutory limitation plea and avoid the liability to pay them.
In accordance with the several rulings of the Supreme Ccourt, standard wages, overtime payment, weekly rest days, annual leave with pay, individual wage raises defined in individual or collective employment contracts, bonus, food and transportation benefits, in-kind benefits, religious holiday and holiday payments are employee rights defined through different means.
After the statutory period expires, it is justified by the arguments rulings that debt acknowledgement addressed to the claimant becomes tacit abdication. Moreover, it forms the basis for prohibition of contradiction for the claimant that sues against the debtor after expiration of the statutory limitation period and it is contradictory to Code of Civil Law article two. It is not a legally secured right.
According to Code of Labor Courts no 5521 article 7th, oral proceedings are employed in Labor Courts. For that reason, statutory limitation plea can be made only until and at the latest in the first session.
In law suits regarding wage claims, if the statutory plea is made, “date of payment” is assigned and looking five years back from the date of trial, it is decided whether statutory limitations apply.
Statutory limitation period starts on the date of expiration of employment contract. In the light of this information, statutory limitation periods on some employment rights are as follows:
- Statutory limitation on wage claims is five years.
- Statutory limitation on severance pay and pay in lieu of notice are ten years in accordance with article 125th of Code of Obligations.
- Statutory limitation on wage and bonus claims are five years, going back from the date of trial
- Overtime earnings, payments for weekly rest days, national or general holidays and annual leave are employee rights and are bound to five years of statutory limitation.
- Statutory limitation on overtime earnings, payments for weekly rest days and national or general holidays are five years.
- Statutory limitation on annual leave that is not used by the employee is five years.
Source: Dünya Gazetesi