Social Security for Employees Residing / Working Abroad

Employees can continue their social security while working abroad. There exists social security agreements between certain countries and Turkey. These bilateral agreements secure the work of the citizens of the participating countries. In case such agreements do not exist, it is still possible to work abroad; however, differences regarding social security applications may emerge.

It is possible to consider the social security of those residing and working abroad from two perspectives: social security of those who reside abroad and work in a company established in Turkey or those who work in the country where they are located.

Remote Work Living Abroad for a Company based in Turkey

There are no legal obstacles to working abroad. The work location of the employee can be determined based on the employment contract between the employer and the employee.  From this perspective, it is possible to resume working abroad. However, from the point of view of SSI, working abroad may have other risks for the employee and the employer. In case the worker residing abroad works in a company established in Turkey, social security notifications must be made in the company he/she works for.

While there is no obstacle to remote working, it is important that the work of remote workers is actual work. All information regarding the passport records of the worker residing abroad and the dates of entry and exit from the country is transferred to the SSI workplace files and SSI records. In the event that the worker applies to SSI for his/her rights such as retirement and incapacity, the files stored in the SSI are checked. An audit is carried out to determine whether the worker who has a social security record in a company in Turkey is actually abroad, and therefore, whether the worker’s services are based on actual work. In the audits made by the audit units affiliated to the SSI, generally, the following is checked:

  • Overseas assignment documents,
  • Overseas daily wage payments,
  • Records of calls made by the worker abroad on behalf of the enterprise, invoices etc. official documents,
  • Payments made to workers abroad (wages, premiums, bonuses, etc.)

In addition, the above documents are examined by comparing the legal books and documents of the workplace. Further information and documents may be requested.

In summary, the workplace is audited and a decision is made regarding the actual work after the audit. For this reason, it is necessary for the employer to record all the information and documents of the employee and these records should be kept regularly every month. Workers and employers must take into account all risks (audit, control of occupational health and safety measures, etc.). The employer must also take into account occupational health and safety measures regarding the employee that he will work remotely or abroad. In case of paying attention to the above-mentioned issues, it is possible to work remotely with additional written protocols.

Of course, the time the worker spends abroad will always be viewed with doubt unless proven otherwise. It will be the joint responsibility of the employee and the employer to document the work done. In summary, we would like to state that the final decision is at the employer’s own initiative, and the above-mentioned issues should also be considered while making a decision on remote work. There is a limited case and interpretation on such practices, since the provisions on remote work have recently been formulated under a legislation.

Social Security For Persons Working or Being Abroad

It is possible to consolidate the periods of work or stay abroad of Turkish citizens working abroad with the working hours in countries with a social security agreement, or to debit the combined periods. At the same time, legal borrowing opportunities are provided for our citizens in countries that do not have a social security agreement.

Consolidating and Borrowing of Work Abroad in Contracted Countries

The social security of our citizens working abroad has been included in the legal framework, including their family members. Legal framework for employees working abroad are enclosed in Article 90 of our Constitution, with the bilateral social security agreements, which are considered to have the force of law and put into effect within the scope of international agreements, with the Law No. 3201 on the Evaluation of the Periods Spent Abroad of Turkish Citizens Abroad in Terms of Social Security and Law No. 5510 of the Law No. g and articles 10. There are 35 countries that have bilateral social security agreements with Turkey and the agreement process is still ongoing.

Depending on the bilateral agreements, it is possible to consolidate work abroad with the work in the country of citizenship, and thus obtain the right to retirement in the country of citizenship. In other words, work abroad counts toward retirement just like work in Turkey. With the fulfillment of the retirement criteria, a monthly pension can be granted to the employee. While calculating the pension, domestic and international work is taken as a basis and the payment is determined accordingly. This payment is called a partial monthly pension. The employee’s start of employment is also taken into account when calculating the pension. If the employee’s start of work abroad is before the start of work in Turkey, the start of work abroad is considered the beginning according to our legislation and this date is taken into account for retirement.

It is also possible for employees in one of the countries with a bilateral contract to consolidate their work and turn the partial pension into full pension by borrowing. Borrowing can also be done without consolidating work.

If the workers, who work both abroad and domestically between the countries with which bilateral contracts are made, opt for the borrowing method, it is also taken into account at the beginning of the work. In particular, if employees who borrow without consolidating their services in accordance with bilateral agreements have previously worked abroad before their work in Turkey, their work abroad is not considered a start. If the worker has a job in Turkey afterwards, the borrowing period is taken back from the date of borrowing if s/he does not work in Turkey, and the beginning of the social security is determined.

However, with Article 29 of the Law No. 6552, which is called the Omnibus Law, the Law No. 3201, added to Article 5 of the Law, “those employees who work in countries with a bilateral social security agreement and those who started working in countries before their start of employment in Turkey, in case of a provision, it will be considered as the beginning of work in Turkey, with a provision stating that “it will be considered the beginning of work in Turkey”, provided that there is a provision in the contracts. It is envisaged to be counted as a starting point for borrowings.

Borrowing of Working/Presence Periods in Non-Contracted Countries

In the event that an employee is assigned from Turkey to one of the countries that do not have a bilateral social security agreement, borrowing is still allowed. First of all, when the worker’s social security notification is made, the social security branch is changed to “21-Turkish Workers Employed by Transported to Countries where Social Security Agreements Have Not Been Signed by Turkish Employers”, and short-term social security branches and general health insurance provisions are applied within the scope of item “g” of Article 5 of the Law No. 5510. The employee can pay premiums by borrowing for the periods spent abroad.

In case of working/being in non-contracted countries;

  • Social security spent abroad,
  • Unemployment periods of up to one-year between or at the end of social security periods abroad,
  • For the periods spent as a housewife (excluding insurance) regardless of their marital status

borrowing is possible. For all these periods borrowing can be done. It is also possible to borrow for the period requested and sufficient for the monthly pension to be paid in Turkey. Of course, certain conditions are sought in order for workers to be able to borrow.

In the event that the employee applies for borrowing, it is checked whether there is a social security working in Turkey, if there is, whether the social security start date is before or after the borrowing start date. If social security has started in Turkey and it will be borrowed before the initial social security start date in Turkey, the start date of the security is taken back as much as the borrowing day. The beginning of the social security of workers who have not worked in Turkey is taken back by the number of days owed from the date the borrowing is paid in full. If the work is done before the borrowing period in Turkey, the social security start date will not be changed.

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