CMS Expert Guide to employment termination law and legislation

Global comparison

1. Dismissal of employees

1.1 Reasons for dismissal

A claim for unfair dismissal can be made if the reason for dismissal was not one of a number of ‘fair reasons’ (e.g. conduct, capability, "some other substantial reason", statutory ban or redundancy).

Most employees need a particular length of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. At present this is two years’ service. However, all employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the reason for dismissal is deemed to make the dismissal automatically unfair (e.g. for whistleblowing or for family reasons such as dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, or requests for flexible working).

Even if the dismissal is deemed to be for a fair reason, to avoid a successful claim for unfair dismissal the employer must still follow a fair procedure and act reasonably in dismissing the employee.

If the reason for the dismissal involves discrimination against the employee (because of a protected characteristic such as sex, race, age or disability), employees may make a discrimination claim irrespective of their length of service.

Employees with two years of service have the right to request a written statement of reasons for dismissal. Employers must provide the statement within 14 days of the request.

Irrespective of length of service, employees dismissed during pregnancy or statutory maternity or adoption leave are automatically entitled to a written statement of reasons for dismissal without having to request it.

Turkish law foresees two types of dismissals for employees: ordinary termination and extraordinary termination. Each type of termination is then further differentiated according to whether the employment security terms are applicable (as outlined below).

Ordinary Termination

Where the employment security provisions apply to the dismissed employee

Whether the employer is obligated to rely on a reason in an ordinary termination depends on whether the employee to be dismissed benefits from “employment security provisions” applicable under Turkish law.

Employment security provisions would be applicable to an employee if:

  1. The employer in question employs at least 30 employees; and
  2. The employee in question has been employed by the said employer for at least six months based on an indefinite term employment agreement.

If the conditions above are satisfied and the employee benefits from employment security provisions, the employer is obligated to supply a valid reason to dismiss such employee. Turkish law does not provide an exhaustive list of valid reasons for termination. However, the following reasons provided under the law are generally considered as guidelines   for this purpose:

  1. The employee is incapable of performing their duties or they behave in an unacceptable manner;
  2. Business necessity; or
  3. Workplace necessity.

Where the employment security provisions do not apply to the dismissed employee

Where the conditions for employment security are not applicable, an ordinary termination does not need to be justified (i.e. the employer may dismiss the employee without having to supply any grounds).

However, where the employee has been terminated in bad faith, they may claim a “bad faith compensation” (kötü niyet tazminatı). For further details, please see our explanation regarding Consequences if requirements are not met below.

Rules applicable without regard to employment security provisions

In an ordinary termination, the employer is obligated to observe the statutory notification periods regardless of whether the employee in question benefits from employment security provisions. For further details regarding such periods, please see our explanations below regarding Notice periods.

Furthermore, any employee who has been employed for at least one year will be entitled to severance payment upon an ordinary termination of their employment. For further details regarding severance payment, please see our responses below to Consequences if requirements are not met and Severance pay.

Lastly, upon the ordinary termination, the employer is obligated to grant the employee the right to seek new employment during the notification period. Accordingly, an employee will be allowed at least two hours per day to find new employment (unless the employment is terminated immediately by way of paying the employee an amount corresponding to his / her notification period, as indicated in our explanations below in Consequences if requirements are not met).

Extraordinary Termination

In the presence of just reasons, Turkish law provides employers the right to dismiss an employee immediately without having to comply with any notification periods and, in certain instances, without having to pay any severance pay as further detailed in our responses to Severance pay below.

Turkish law does not provide an exhaustive list of just reasons for extraordinary termination but the following reasons indicated under the law are considered to give guidelines as to what constitutes a just reason:

  1. Health reasons;
  2. Acts of the employee breaching moral principles and principle of good faith or similar situations;
  3. Force Majeure; and
  4. Apprehension or detention of the employee

Please note that the distinction based on the applicability of employment security provisions explained above for an ordinary termination is also applicable for an extraordinary termination.

Please see our responses below regarding Consequences if requirements are not met for further details of the legal ramifications of an unjust termination (i.e. where the termination is absent of the alleged just reasons).

In order to unilaterally terminate an employment agreement for an indefinite period of time, other than termination during the probationary period or an urgent reason for immediate dismissal, the employer requires a statutory dismissal ground to realise a termination. The employer can appeal to the following (limitative) statutory dismissal grounds under Dutch law:

  1. Economic grounds
  2. Long-term illness or disability
  3. Regularly not being able to perform work due to illness or disability
  4. Underperformance
  5. Culpable acts or omissions
  6. Conscientious objection
  7. Disturbed working relationship
  8. Other grounds than those mentioned above
  9. Cumulated dismissal grounds based on more than two dismissal grounds as mentioned under C – H combined

Depending on the statutory dismissal ground, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) or the Court is competent to assess whether the termination is allowed or granted. The employer should request the UWV for permission to terminate the employment agreement in case it appeals to dismissal reasons A or B. The employer should request the Court to terminate the employment agreement in case it appeals to dismissal reasons C to I.

1.2 Form

Employees may be dismissed orally or in writing. In misconduct and capability dismissals the ACAS Code of Practice states that the employee should be invited to attend a meeting to explain their version of events. A letter should then be sent to confirm the reason for the dismissal and the date of dismissal in writing to avoid any dispute over the effective date of termination. A right of appeal should be offered. Failure by the employer to follow the Code of Practice does not give an employee a remedy for breach. However in the event that an unfair dismissal claim is successful and there has been non-compliance with the Code the tribunal has the power to increase the award of compensation by up to 25%.

As a matter of validity, notice (bildirim) for dismissal must be in writing and signed by the employee to confirm they have received such notice. In addition, it is advisable to have two witnesses present at the time of notice to evidence a possible refusal by the employee to take receipt of the termination notice.

It is also advisable to send an official notification (tebligat) to the employee’s registered address of residence following due receipt of the termination notice (or refusal of the same) to ensure that the employee is duly notified of the termination. For such purpose, specific rules under the notification procedures legislation shall become applicable.

Lastly, please note that an employee may not be terminated due to his / her performance or behaviour without granting such employee a right to defend himself / herself.

Depending on the kind of termination, different form requirements apply.

Unilateral termination:

  • Employee Insurance Agency: the employer needs to give notice in writing after approval has been given by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to terminate the employment agreement.
  • Court: if the employer has pursued termination based on legal proceedings, the court will terminate the employment agreement. Meaning that no further notice needs to be given by the employer.
  • Probationary period: there is no formal requirement to give notice during the probationary period in writing. In case the employee asks for the reasons of termination, the employer is however obliged to confirm the reasons in writing. Moreover, it is highly recommend that notice be given in writing in order to create evidence that notice during the probationary period was given in a timely fashion.
  • Summary dismissal: there is no formal requirement to give immediate dismissal in writing. However, when the immediate dismissal is given, the employer needs to directly inform the employee of the urgent cause(s) of immediate dismissal. Therefore, it is common practice – and highly recommended – to give the immediate dismissal in writing in which the urgent cause(s) for immediate dismissal are set out thoroughly. 

Mutual agreement:

  • Settlement agreement: Parties can also agree to terminate the settlement agreement based on mutual consent, which needs to be concluded in writing.

1.3 Notice period

There is a statutory minimum notice period of between one and 12 weeks, dependent on length of service.

The contract of employment can provide for a longer notice period. Failure by the employer to comply with the contractual notice period can result in a claim for ‘wrongful dismissal’.

Ordinary Termination

For an ordinary termination explained above, the notice periods depend on the length of employment. The relevant periods are as follows:

  1. For employees whose term of employment is shorter than six months, the statutory period is two weeks;
  2. For employees whose term of employment is between six months and one and a half years, the statutory period is four weeks;
  3. For employees whose term of employment is between one and a half years and three years, the statutory period is six weeks; and
  4. For employees whose term of employment is longer than three years, the statutory period is eight weeks.

In principle, Turkish law allows for the employer and the employee to agree on extended notification periods. However, the Turkish Court of Appeals has made at least one ruling where it has stated that an employee, upon his / her termination of the employment, would only be bound to observe the periods indicated above (and not those agreed under the employment agreement). Therefore, if the employee terminates his / her employment, he / she may not be required to observe a notification period longer than those prescribed under the law (as indicated above).

Extraordinary Termination

For an extraordinary termination, a notice period does not need to be observed by the employer (i.e. the dismissal will be effective immediately).

However, in an unjust termination (where the alleged just reasons for termination do not exist), compensation pertaining to the notification periods will be applicable. For further details, please see below our responses to Consequences if requirements are not met.

The statutory-notice period for the employee is one month, regardless of the number of years of employment. The statutory-notice period for the employer depends on the length of service as per the termination date. An applicable collective bargaining agreement may stipulate otherwise, but the statutory-notice period to be observed by the employer is equal to:

  • One month if the employment has lasted five years or less;
  • Two months if the employment has lasted between five and ten years;
  • Three months if the employment has lasted between ten and 15 years;
  • Four months if the employment has lasted for 15 years or longer.

The period of notice may, for the employee, be extended contractually up to a maximum of six months. If the employee’s period of notice is extended, however, the period of notice for the employer may not be less than twice that of the employee.

1.4 Involvement of works council

No general legal requirement for involvement, but staff forums may be involved in the case of collective redundancies (see below).

No involvement.

The works council (if any) must be offered the opportunity to advise on any considered decision to terminate a number of employment agreements, which terminations have a significant impact on the organisation.

1.5 Involvement of a union

No involvement normally other than in the case of collective redundancies (see below) or if the employee exercises their right to be accompanied by an appropriate trade union representative to a disciplinary meeting.

A union will be involved in the dismissal of employees if collective employment agreements have been entered into by employees’ unions and employers (or employers’ unions) that foresee the establishment of certain bodies (composed of the representatives of labour unions and the employers) (e.g. disciplinary boards) authorized to make advisory opinions on dismissals. While such advisory opinion is not directly binding on the employer, Turkish courts may still determine that a termination that goes against such opinion is an invalid termination.

Under Dutch law, an employer is obligated to notify unions and the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) and discuss the consequences of any reorganisation with the trade unions, when more than 20 employees are being dismissed within a three-month period.

The employer can also be obligated to involve or inform the unions under other circumstances based on the collective bargaining agreement (if applicable).

1.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Not necessary.

Not necessary.

Not applicable.

1.7 Collective redundancies

If 20 or more employees are proposed to be made redundant at one "establishment" within a period of 90 days or less, consultation with employee representatives (who may be trade union representatives) must begin at least 30 days (or 45 days if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant) before the first dismissal takes effect.

Additionally, employers are obliged to notify the Secretary of State (for Business Innovation and Skills) where they are proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees within a 90-day period.

The Secretary of State must receive notification at least 30 days (or 45 days if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant) before the first dismissal takes effect.

A copy of the notification must also be provided for the employee representatives.

Collective redundancy is recognized under Turkish law and the relevant provisions will be applicable when the employment of the following numbers of employees are terminated on the same day or within a period of one month following the same procedures and principles as termination with a valid reason:

  1. Ten employees in a workplace where 20 – 100 employees are employed;
  2. 10% of employees in a workplaces where 101 – 300 employees are employed; or
  3. 30 employees in a workplace where at least 301 employees are employed

Collective redundancy is subject to judicial review upon petition by the employees. The judicial review will determine whether the collective redundancy has been implemented for valid reasons and the necessary conditions have been satisfied. For such purposes, the court will make use of data from all types of workplace records and expert opinions, and will reach its own decision.

Certain procedures must also be followed for the due implementation of a collective redundancy. To elaborate, where a collective redundancy is in question, the employer is obligated to inform the regional Directorate of the Employment and Social Security Ministry and Turkish Employment Office at least 30 days before the implementation of such collective redundancy. In the event that the employer does not inform the relevant state institutions, it will incur an administrative fine of TL 857 (app. EUR 141) (as of 2019) for every employee affected by the collective redundancy.

It should also be noted that the notification period for the termination starts within one month of having informed the relevant state institution. Without such notification, notification periods for the termination cannot be duly initiated.

If more than 20 employees are being dismissed within a three-month period, the employer must notify the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), the unions and the works council (if any) and discuss the consequences of any reorganisation with the trade unions.

For the purpose of determining whether this threshold of 20 employees in three months has been reached, employment agreement terminated by mutual consent also counts towards the total. 

Generally, if more than 20 employees are involved, the employer offers a social plan, which may be negotiated with trade unions (if applicable) or the works council. Unless a collective bargaining agreement stipulates differently, there is no statutory obligation to offer a social plan although it is very common to do so.

The works council (if any) must be offered the opportunity to advise on any mass redundancy being contemplated. 

1.8 Summary dismissals

Summary dismissal (dismissal without notice) is only lawful where the employee has committed a breach of contract that is sufficiently serious to entitle the employer to treat the employment contract as terminated with immediate effect. A typical example is where the employee has committed gross misconduct.

Please see above our explanation regarding extraordinary termination.

An employer can terminate an employment agreement (definite and indefinite) with immediate effect for an ‘urgent’ cause, such as theft, fraud, or other very serious misconduct. One of the formalities to strictly take into account is that notice must be given very shortly after the employer has become aware of relevant findings and (ideally) after the employee has been confronted with these findings. In case of an urgent cause, there is no requirement for a mutual agreement, or court action or procedure at the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). 

Case law shows that in the event of an urgent cause, the employer can also decide to confront the employee with the findings and then give the employee a conditional immediate dismissal. When the employer opts for this possibility, the employee is offered a settlement agreement that can be accepted within a couple of days. If the employee fails to do so in a timely fashion, then the employment agreement ends based on urgent cause. The benefit of this procedure is that it allows the employer to know usually within a week whether the matter can be closed by means of a final settlement instead of being confronted with lengthy and costly procedures initiated by the employee.

1.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

The employee may have various claims, such as an unfair dismissal claim where the primary remedy is financial compensation. However, there is also scope for the claimant to request reinstatement or re-engagement, and in very limited circumstances (e.g whistleblowing) the claimant can request interim relief, and if the tribunal grants this, then an employer must continue paying the claimant's wages until the date of the substantive hearing. Most employment-related claims in the UK are made in employment tribunals.

There are different consequences under Turkish law for an ordinary termination and an extraordinary termination in which a valid or just reason is absent. These are as follows:

Ordinary Termination

Where the employment security provisions apply to the dismissed employee

In this scenario, the notification periods indicated above must be observed by employers when terminating an employee. As such, the employer would be obligated to either

  1. Allow the employee to work during the notification period (duly paying him / her for the work performed during such the period); or
  2. Pay the amount corresponding to the notification period if the employer wishes to terminate the employee immediately.

In addition to this, in case of a termination, the employee may seek remedy before a mediator and if the matter is not resolved before the mediator, then the employee will be entitled to initiate a “lawsuit for re-instatement” (işe iade davası), in each case claiming that such dismissal is not based on one of the valid reasons explained above.

Where the parties are unable to resolve this dispute before the mediator and this matter is referred to a court and the said court determines that the ordinary termination is absent of a valid reason, it will render a judgement about:

  1. The re-instatement of the employee to the position he / she held prior to termination; and
  2. The amount of compensation the employer is obligated to pay to the employee in case the employer will not re-instate the employee.

If the employer re-instates the employee, it is obligated to pay to the employee a (maximum) amount equal to four months’ salary as well as any other receivables of the employee, which is meant to compensate the employee for the duration of the lawsuit during which the employee did not work.

If the employee chooses not to re-instate the employee, it is obligated to pay compensation to the employee equal to

  1. Four months’ salary as well as any other receivables of the employee, which is meant to compensate the employee for the duration of the lawsuit during which the employee did not work; and
  2. Four to eight months’ salary as compensation for undue termination.

In both scenarios, the salary taken as the basis for the compensation amount is the monthly salary the employee received immediately prior to termination.

Lastly, amounts corresponding to unused leave periods (if any) will also become payable to the employee.

Where the employment security provisions do not apply to the dismissed employee

In this case, the employer must observe the notification periods or make the corresponding payments as indicated above in our responses to paragraph Where the employment security provisions apply to the dismissed employee.

In addition to the above, if the employment has been terminated in bad faith (e.g. solely to avoid paying certain receivables to an employee, due to the employee’s involvement with a labour union etc.), the employer would be obligated to pay a bad faith compensation. Such compensation is equal to three times the amount pertaining to the notification periods of the employee.

Lastly, amounts corresponding to unused leave periods (if any) will also become payable to the employee.

Severance Payment

Any employee who has been employed for at least one year will benefit from severance payment upon ordinary termination of his employment relation by the employer regardless of whether the employee benefited from employment security provisions. For further details, please see our responses to Severance pay below.

Extraordinary Termination

Where the employment security provisions apply to the dismissed employee

In this scenario, as the dismissal will be effective immediately, in the absence of such just cause for termination, the employer would be obligated to compensate the employee for the amount pertaining to the notification periods (as indicated above).

Furthermore, the employee will also be entitled to initiate a lawsuit for re- instatement. Please see our responses above to Where the employment security provisions apply to the dismissed employee regarding the possible outcomes of such lawsuit.

Lastly, amounts corresponding to unused leave periods (if any) will also become payable to the employee.

Where the employment security provisions do not apply to the dismissed employee

In this case, as the dismissal will be effective immediately, in the absence of such just cause for termination, the employer would be obligated to compensate the employee for the amounts pertaining to the notification periods (as indicated above).

The bad faith compensation indicated in our responses above to Where the employment security provisions do not apply to the dismissed employee are also be applicable in this case.

Lastly, amounts corresponding to unused leave periods (if any) will become payable to the employee.

Severance Payment

If the employee was employed for at least one year, he / she will benefit from a severance payment upon an unjust termination of his / her employment regardless of whether he / she benefited from employment security provisions.

For further details, please see our responses to Severance pay below.

A wrongful dismissal – meaning that the statutory reason cannot be sufficiently substantiated or other requirements have not been met such as the redeployment obligation – can lead to the restoration of the employment contract or to additional compensation (i.e. "fair compensation").

In case of collective redundancies, if trade unions are not consulted and the employer proceeds with the termination of the employment agreements based on a consensual agreement that determines the legal relationship between both parties, these agreements are subject to annulment. This may have far-reaching consequences, since redundancy pay will have to be paid back in the event of annulment and the employment agreement will have remained valid throughout.

1.10 Severance pay

The employment contract may provide for the employer to make a payment in lieu of notice, for example, equal to the salary that the employee would have earned during the notice period. If this is not provided for in the contract, the parties can agree for such a payment to be made, for example, as ‘damages’ for breach of contract.

If an employee with two years’ continuous service has been made redundant, they will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. The amount is calculated according to a statutory formula based on the employee’s age, length of service and weekly pay (capped at GBP 538 as at April 2020), up to a maximum of GBP 16,140 (as at April 2020). The employment contract may provide for an enhanced redundancy payment.

If the employee has been unfairly dismissed, and brings a successful claim in an employment tribunal they may be able to claim a ‘basic award’ calculated according to the same formula as the statutory redundancy payment (but employees cannot usually recover both a statutory redundancy payment and a basic award), and a ‘compensatory award’ which is capped at the lower of one year’s salary and GBP 88,519(as at April 2020). If an order for reinstatement or re-engagement is made there is scope for this cap to be lifted.

Employees who argue that they were dismissed for making a protected disclosure (whistleblowing) are not restricted by the statutory cap referred to above.

Similarly, the statutory cap does not apply where the dismissal was related to a prohibited ground under the Equality Act 2010. In these scenarios the potential awards can be significant.

As indicated above, in an ordinary termination, employees who have worked for the employer in question for at least one year, will be entitled to severance pay regardless of whether they benefited from employment security provisions prior to termination and even if there was a valid reason for their dismissal.

As for an extraordinary termination, employees who have worked for the employer in question for at least one year will be entitled to severance pay if they were terminated based on any grounds other than “acts breaching moral principles and principle of good faith or similar situations”. Further, an employee will be entitled to severance pay at any rate if he / she was terminated on an unjust basis (i.e. if the alleged just reasons for termination do not exist).

Regarding the amount of the severance payment, note that upon termination, an employee, in principle, is entitled to 30 days of pay for each year of employment prior to termination. However, this payment is subject to a ceiling of approximately TL 7,117 (EUR 800,subject to an inflation markup bi-annually). Consequently, even if the 30 day salary of the employee was higher than TL 7,117, the employee may only receive this amount as severance payment for each year of employment.

For calculation of the severance pay, the gross salary will include tax and security premiums deducted from the salary as well as additional moneys and monetary rights provided to the employee, including bonuses, child support payments, and monetary assistance in relation to health and transportation to and from work.

When the employment agreement is terminated via the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) or the court, a mandatory severance payment (i.e. transition payment) is due. The amount of the transition payment depends on the seniority of the employee and is equal to:

  • One-third of the monthly salary for each calendar year.

In 2020, the maximum transition payment is EUR 83,000 gross and for employees who earn more than EUR 83,000 gross a year, the transition payment is maximised at one annual gross salary.

In the situation where an employment agreement is terminated on the basis of the cumulated dismissal ground, the sub-district court can grant, in addition to the transition payment, a severance of up to half of the transition payment.

The employee is entitled to additional (reasonable) compensation if the employer has acted in a seriously culpable way. In that case, the remuneration is not subject to a maximum amount and is determined by the court. Case law shows an increase in the amounts awarded to employees.

If the agreed or statutory notice period is not observed, the termination of the employment agreement is deemed ‘irregular’. An irregular termination does not affect the validity of the termination itself, but it entitles the other party to claim statutory damages or compensation for the damages actually incurred.

1.11 Non-competition clauses

Restrictive covenants will be void for unlawful restraint of trade and so are unenforceable unless they protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and go no further than is necessary to provide that protection, in terms of activity, duration and geographical area. However they are widely used in senior level contracts. It is always recommended to take advice on tailoring such a clause for each individual employee and to ensure that when employees are promoted or their role changes that the restrictions are suitably updated.

During the term of the employment agreement, employees are under a non-compete obligation as per the terms of Turkish law.

For any non-compete obligations to prevail after the employment relationship, they must be limited by time and geographical scope so as not to prejudice the economic well-being of the employee.

From a timing perspective, Turkish law, in principle, allows for a two-year period as a valid non-compete term starting from the termination of the employment relationship. As for the geographical scope, Turkish law requires that the non-compete obligation is limited to certain regions or cities where the employment of the employee by a competitor would be most detrimental for the initial employer. Where a non-compete obligation is found to be in excess of the said limitations, it will be limited by Turkish courts. Accordingly, in a dispute, the court will not take into account the contractual non- compete obligation but determine the scope of the non-compete obligation that could duly be agreed between the parties and proceed on that basis.

There is no specific regulation or established precedent under Turkish law regarding a non-compete in favour of a third person who is not the actual employer of the employee in question (e.g. the parent company of the employer). As such, it is likely that a non-compete obligation in favour of such third person would be unenforceable under  Turkish law.

A non-competition clause may be inserted into the employment contract, but it will only be valid if it was set out in writing with an adult employee. If a non-competition clause is inserted into a definite term employment agreement, the compelling reasons that such a clause is necessary must be specified in writing in the employment agreement.

1.12 Miscellaneous

Employers may wish to avoid a potential dispute over a termination of employment by obtaining a waiver of rights from an employee in consideration for a termination payment. In the UK this agreement is referred to as a settlement agreement and there are a number of statutory formalities to include before such an agreement is enforceable in respect of statutory rights, including the requirement that the individual takes independent advice on the terms of the agreement. There are also risks attached to making an offer to an employee to enter into a settlement agreement and therefore legal advice should be taken before doing so. In addition, in 2019 the UK Government announced legislation on the use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases which was expected to come into force in 2020, however given the pandemic, this has been delayed and no new time frame has been given. The UK statutory equality body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission issued guidance on this subject in October 2019 setting out good practice for employers to consider. 

It should be noted that Turkish courts are extremely employee friendly. Therefore, complying with the necessary principles and procedures with regard to a termination is essential. For this purpose, all the relevant documents (e.g. the employment agreement) must be reviewed very carefully and all notices and notifications (i.e. the termination notices / notifications) must be prepared in a diligent manner and duly served.

Lastly, Turkish employers are obligated to treat employees equally and where a termination has been effected on a discriminatory basis, an employee may claim a discrimination compensation (ayrımcılık tazminatı). Such compensation will equal four months’ of the employee’s salary when subject to discrimination as well as any further receivables the employee should have received had he / she not been subject to such discrimination.

Dutch employment law prohibits giving notice to certain categories of employees, such as pregnant women, members and former members of a works council and employees who are absent due to illness (at least during the first two years).

In cases where the illness commences after the employer files his application for dismissal to the UWV, the employer will still be allowed to give a notice of dismissal to the employee.

The rules for special protection do not apply to cases of termination of employment by the court. However, the court will assess whether the request for termination involves a prohibition to terminate and will refuse the termination if the reason for termination directly results from a prohibition to terminate.

If a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) applies, the employment conditions will be governed by the CBA. The CBA may also provide for an alternative dismissal route in case of redundancy, but that is uncommon.

2. Dismissal of managing directors

In the United Kingdom (UK), the rights and obligations of a ‘director’ are the same whether they are for a ‘managing director’ or any other type of director. However, not all directors are employees. ‘Managing directors’, for example, are employees of the company, but ‘non-executive directors’ are not employees. Normal practice is for a managing director to have a service agreement supplementing their statutory and common law obligations as a director. Often a managing director's employment contract will require them to resign any directorships when their employment terminates, so that their directorship and employment terminate simultaneously. It Is therefore often simpler (and preferable) to remove a managing director by dismissing them from their employment, and then requiring them to resign their directorship. Please see the section "Employees: United Kingdom" for information on the relevant issues when taking that approach, as well as the "Miscellaneous" section below.

This table only covers removal of the director from office as a director and does not cover termination of any contract of employment or other employment issues.

2.1 Reasons for dismissal

The company may remove the director for any reason, unless the articles of association of the company or any other agreement between the director and the company provide otherwise. There is however a statutory procedure that the shareholders of any UK company can use to remove a director (see below). This procedure will apply regardless of any agreement between the company and the director, or any provision of the company's articles.

First, Turkish law only recognizes a distinction between the termination of employees and

  1. Employer representatives and deputy employer representatives who manage an enterprise in its entirety; and
  2. Employer representatives who manage a workplace in its entirety and who are authorized to employ and dismiss employees.

(Persons in (i) and (ii) above are collectively referred to as “Managers” for the purposes of this Guide)

For the purposes of (i) above, employer representatives and deputy employer representatives are usually considered to be the general managers (genel müdür) and deputy general managers (genel müdür yardımcısı), respectively, of the relevant entities. Managing directors should fall in the scope of “general managers” as explained above.

As for (ii) above, any person who has been given both powers indicated in it will also be subject to the regime explained below. However, in Turkish legal practice, persons other than employer representatives and deputy employer representatives, would rarely hold all of such powers together.

Turkish law foresees two types of dismissals for Managers, namely ordinary termination and extraordinary termination.

Ordinary Termination

Under the employment security provisions of Turkish law, certain employees are granted specific remedies in case of an ordinary termination.

Under Turkish law, employment security provisions do not apply to Managers. Therefore, a manager may be terminated without a valid reason and remedies against such ordinary termination (such as initiating lawsuit for reinstatement (işe iade davası)) will not be available. However, the employer is still obligated to observe the notification periods for the ordinary termination of a Manager. For further details regarding such periods, please see our explanations below regarding Notice periods and Consequences if requirements are not met.

Furthermore, any Manager who has been employed by the employer in question for at least one year will be entitled to severance pay for an ordinary termination. For further details, please see our responses to Consequences if requirements are not met and Severance pay below.

In addition, where the Manager has been terminated in bad faith, he / she may claim a “bad faith compensation” (kötü niyet tazminatı). For further details, please see our explanations below regarding Consequences if requirements are not met.

Upon the ordinary termination of a Manager, the employer is obligated to grant the Manager a right to seek new employment during the notification period. Accordingly, such Manager shall have at least two hours per day to find new employment (unless the employment is terminated immediately by way of paying the Manager the amount corresponding   to his / her notification period, as indicated in our explanations below in Consequences if requirements are not met).

Lastly, upon an ordinary termination, an amount corresponding to unused leave periods will also become payable to the Manager.

Extraordinary Termination

In the presence of just reasons, Turkish law provides employers the right to dismiss a Manager immediately without having to comply with any notification periods or having to pay any severance pay.

While the law does not provide an exhaustive list, the following just reasons indicated under the law are considered as a guideline for this purpose:

  1. Health reasons;
  2. Acts of the manager breaching moral principles and the principle of good faith or similar situations;
  3. Force Majeure; and
  4. Apprehension or detention of the manager

Please see our responses below regarding Consequences if requirements are not met for further details as to the legal ramifications of an unjust termination (i.e. where the termination is absent of the alleged just reasons).

In the Netherlands, the statutory director who is appointed by the shareholder of a private or public limited company has a special legal status. The statutory director has a dual position: a corporate position and an employment agreement with the company. The statutory director does not enjoy the same dismissal protection as regular employees.

In all circumstances, the employer must ensure that there are one or more reasonable grounds based on which the employment agreement would end. Usually, lack of trust is presented as the main reasonable ground for termination. The possible (limitative) statutory reasonable grounds under Dutch law are as follows:

  1. Economic grounds
  2. Long-term illness or disability
  3. Regularly not being able to perform work due to illness or disability
  4. Underperformance
  5. Culpable acts or omissions
  6. Conscientious objection
  7. Disturbed working relationship
  8. Other grounds than those mentioned above
  9. Cumulated dismissal grounds based on more than two dismissal grounds as mentioned under C – H combined

2.2 Form

The Companies Act 2006 gives shareholders a mandatory right to remove a director by ‘ordinary resolution’ (i.e. a simple majority of the shareholders attending and voting) at a meeting notwithstanding any other agreement between the director and the company. The resolution will be of no effect if passed in writing instead of at a meeting. At least one of the shareholders must give at least 28 clear days’ notice in writing before the meeting of an intention to move the resolution at the meeting. On receiving that notice, the company must forward the notice of the resolution to the director concerned and call a general meeting of the company to vote on the resolution. The director has the right to be heard at the meeting and to make written representations. 

The company's articles of association or shareholders' agreement may contain provisions that make it difficult in practice to remove a director or provide that they can be reinstated. The company's articles of association and shareholders' agreements should therefore be checked before considering taking this route. 

A company's articles of association may set out additional (and usually less complex or time-consuming) bases on which a director can be removed. For example, the 'Model Articles' under the Companies Act 2006 set out circumstances that trigger the automatic removal of a director, including that they are prohibited from being a director by law or a bankruptcy order is made against them. Some companies' articles of association also allow the directors to remove another director by majority vote, for example. The articles of a company should be reviewed for any such procedures if removal of a director is contemplated.

There is no requirement for a due notice of termination of a Manager to be given in writing. However, it would be advisable to give such notice in a written form and have two witnesses present at the time of the notice for evidentiary purposes.

Further, it would also be also advisable to send an official notification (tebligat) to the Manager’s registered address of residence to ensure that the Manager is duly notified of the termination. For this purpose, specific rules under the notification procedures legislation become applicable.

In addition to the above, in most cases there will be a shareholders’ resolution and / or a board of directors’ resolution for the appointment of the Manager and this resolution will be registered with the relevant trade registry and published in the trade registry gazette. Where the Manager is terminated, a new shareholders’ resolution and / or a board of directors’ resolution will need to be made regarding the revocation of the appointment of the Manager in question and the new resolution will also need to be registered with the relevant trade registry and published in the trade registry gazette.

Before being able, exceptions excluded, to terminate the corporate position of the statutory director by means of a shareholders' resolution, certain procedural steps must be taken. These steps are set out in the articles of association of the company. The manner in which the statutory director is invited in writing, the wording of the invitation (which should not only include the reasonable grounds but also explicitly state that the statutory director has the right to render advice about the contemplated decision and be heard) and the timing of the shareholders' meeting are essential to ensure that the corporate termination cannot be legally challenged.

It is also important to ensure that the discussion held during the shareholders' meeting and the resolution are well documented in case the statutory director decides to initiate court proceedings afterwards to claim damages. Once the corporate position has been terminated validly, the employment agreement will end automatically after expiration of the notice period.

2.3 Notice period

Removal as a director is immediate unless otherwise specified in the articles of association of the company.

Ordinary Termination

For an ordinary termination explained above, the notice periods depend on the length of employment. Accordingly, please find below the relevant periods:

  1. For Managers whose term of employment is shorter than six months, the statutory period is two weeks;
  2. For Managers whose term of employment is between six months and one and a half years, the statutory period is four weeks;
  3. For Managers whose term of employment is between one and a half and three years, the statutory period is six weeks; and
  4. For Managers whose term of employment is longer than three years, the statutory period is eight weeks.

Please note that Turkish law, in principle, allows for the employee and   the employer to agree on an extended notification period. However, the Turkish Court of Appeals has made at least one ruling where it has stated that an employee, upon his / her termination of the employment, would only be bound to observe the periods indicated above (and not those agreed under the employment agreement). As this ruling would also be valid for Managers, if a Manager terminates his / her employment with the employer, he / she may not be required to observe a notice period longer than those indicated above.

Extraordinary Termination

For a due extraordinary termination, a notice period does not need to be observed by the employer (i.e. the dismissal will be effective immediately).

However, in an unjust termination (where the alleged just reasons for termination do not exist), compensation pertaining to the notification periods will be applicable. For further details, please see below our responses to Consequences if requirements are not met.

The statutory-notice period for the statutory director is one month, regardless of the number of years of employment. The statutory notice period for the employer depends on the length of service as per the termination date. An applicable collective bargaining agreement may stipulate otherwise, but the statutory notice period to be observed by the employer is equal to:

  • One month if the employment has lasted five years or less;
  • Two months if the employment has lasted between five and ten years;
  • Three months if the employment has lasted between ten and 15 years;
  • Four months if the employment has lasted for 15 years or longer.

The period of notice may, for the statutory director, be extended contractually up  to a maximum of six months. If the statutory director's period of notice is extended, however, the period of notice for the employer may not be less than twice that of the statutory director.

2.4 Involvement of works council

No involvement.

No involvement.

If the company has a works council, then both the dismissal and the hiring of a statutory director (in light of the Works Councils Act, this person is defined as the individual who, alone or jointly with others, exercises the highest direct authority in managing work within an enterprise) are subject to the prior advice of the works council. The involvement of the works council must be initiated at such a stage when the decision is still being contemplated. In practice, the handing over of the invitation to the shareholders meeting, which handles the corporate dismissal, may hold an element of surprise, but the works council is usually involved shortly after the invitation has been handed over.

2.5 Involvement of a union

No involvement.

A union will be involved in the dismissal of Managers if collective employment agreements have been entered into by employees’ unions and employers (or employers’ unions) which foresee the establishment of certain bodies (composed of the representatives of labour unions and the employers) (e.g. disciplinary boards) authorized to make advisory opinions on dismissals (although such collective labour agreements would usually apply to blue-collar employees only). While such advisory opinion is not directly binding on the employer, Turkish courts may still determine that a termination that goes against such opinion is invalid.

No involvement.

2.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Not necessary.

Not necessary.

Not applicable.

2.7 Collective redundancies

Not applicable.

No specific provisions are applicable to a collective redundancy concerning Managers. However, in determining whether a collective redundancy has occurred, the number of terminated Managers (if any) will also be taken into consideration.

Not applicable.

2.8 Summary dismissals

No special rules apply.

Please see above our explanation regarding extraordinary termination.

An employer can terminate an employment agreement (definite and indefinite) with immediate effect for an ‘urgent’ cause, such as theft, fraud, or other serious misconduct. One of the formalities to take into account is that notice must be given shortly after the employer has become aware of relevant findings. Due to the fact that the statutory director also holds a corporate position, a shareholders meeting should be convened as soon as possible – in accordance with the articles of association – in which the immediate dismissal is put on the agenda. 

Until the shareholders meeting takes place, parties have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement agreement. The benefit of reaching a settlement agreement is that it allows the employer to know usually within a week whether the matter can be closed by means of a final settlement instead of being confronted with lengthy and costly procedures initiated by the statutory director.

If no settlement agreement is reached, the shareholders' meeting will take place. In this meeting, the statutory director will be given the opportunity to be heard and will be given an advisory vote as a statutory director. In the shareholders' meeting, the decision will be made to terminate the corporate and employment position with immediate effect. 

2.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

The removal of the director is void.

There are different consequences under Turkish law for an ordinary termination and an extraordinary termination which is absent of a valid or just reason. These are as follows:

Ordinary Termination

In an ordinary termination, the employer would be obligated to observe the notification periods indicated above. As such, the employer would be required to either

  1. Allow the Manager to work during the notification period (duly paying him / her for the work performed during such period); or
  2. Pay the amount corresponding to the notification period if the employer wishes to terminate the Manager immediately. Furthermore, any Manager who has been employed for at least one year will benefit from severance payment upon ordinary termination of his employment relation by the employer. For further details, please see our responses to Severance pay below.

In addition to the above, if the employment was terminated in bad faith (e.g. solely to avoid the payment of certain receivables to a Manager etc.), the employer is obligated to pay a bad faith compensation. Such compensation equals three times the amount pertaining to the notification period of the Manager.

Lastly, any amount pertaining to unused leave periods will also become payable to the Manager.

Extraordinary Termination

In this case, as the dismissal will be effective immediately, in the absence of such just cause for termination, the employer is obligated to compensate the Manager for the amount pertaining to the notification periods (as indicated above).

Furthermore, if the Manager was employed for at least one year, upon an unjust termination, he / she will benefit from severance payment upon an unjust termination of his / her employment. For further details, please see below our responses to Severance pay.

In addition, the bad faith compensation indicated above for ordinary terminations also become applicable.

Lastly, any amounts pertaining to unused leave periods become payable to the Manager.

If there is no reasonable ground and/or if redeployment (within the group) is reasonable, but the statutory director has been dismissed anyway, the requirements for dismissal are not met. If these requirements have been violated, the court may grant the statutory director fair compensation.

2.10 Severance pay

The director may be entitled to a payment under the terms of any service contract (for example a payment in lieu of notice), or as an employee under statute (for example a statutory redundancy payment). Sections 215 to 222 of the Companies Act 2006 contains special rules relating to compensation given to a director for their loss of office. Such compensation requires shareholder approval, except for certain payments that are made in good faith such as payments made in discharge of a legal obligation, or to settle a claim arising from loss of office or termination of employment.

As indicated above, in an ordinary termination, a Manager who has worked for the employer in question for at least one year is entitled to severance pay even if there was a valid reason for his / her dismissal.

As for an extraordinary termination, Managers who have worked for the employer in question for at least one year will be entitled to severance pay if they were terminated based on any grounds other than “acts breaching moral principles and principle of good faith or similar situations”.

Further, a Manager will be entitled to severance pay at any rate if he / she was terminated on an unjust basis (i.e. if the alleged just reasons for termination do not exist).

Regarding the amount of the severance payment, note that upon termination , a Manager, in principle, is entitled to 30 days of pay for each year of employment prior to termination. However, this payment is subject to a ceiling of approximately TL 7,117 (EUR 800,subject to an inflation markup bi-annually). Consequently, even if the 30 day salary of the Manager was higher than TL 7,117, the Manager may only receive this amount as severance payment for each year of employment.

For calculation of the severance pay, the gross salary will include tax and security premiums deducted from the salary as well as additional moneys and monetary rights provided to the Manager, including bonuses, child support payments, and monetary assistance in relation to health and transportation to and from work.

When the statutory director’s employment agreement is terminated, the mandatory transition payment is due. The amount of the transition payment depends on the seniority of the employee and is equal to:

  • One-third of the monthly salary for each calendar year.

In 2020, the maximum transition payment is EUR 83,000 gross and for employees who earn more than EUR 83,000 gross a year, the transition payment is maximised at one annual gross salary.

In case parties have agreed to a contractual severance, one should verify whether the statutory director is entitled to both the contractual severance (i.e. a golden parachute) as the statutory severance.

The statutory director may be entitled to an additional (reasonable) compensation, if the employer has acted in a seriously culpable manner. This could apply if the dismissal is not based on any of the statutory reasonable grounds. In that case, the additional compensation, damages, remuneration is not subjected to a specific maximum amount and will be determined by the court. If the statutory director wishes to challenge the decision of the shareholder, he should initiate court proceedings within three months after termination of his employment.

2.11 Non-competition clauses

Restrictive covenants may be included in any service agreement. However, they will be void for unlawful restraint of trade and therefore unenforceable unless they protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and go no further than necessary to provide that protection in terms of the activities covered, duration and geographical area.

The director may also be subject to post-termination restrictions contained in other agreements such as a shareholder agreement, or (depending on the reward structure) share plans such as LTIPs (Long Term Incentive Plans).

During the term of their employment, Managers are under a non-compete obligation as per the terms of Turkish law.

For non-compete obligations to prevail following the end of the term of employment relationship, such non-competition clauses must be limited by time and geographical scope.

From a timing perspective, Turkish law, in principle, allows for a two-year period as a valid non-compete term starting from the termination of the employment relationship. As for the geographical scope, Turkish law requires that the non-compete obligation is limited to certain regions or cities where the employment of the Manager by a competitor would be most detrimental for the initial employer. Where a non-compete obligation is found to be in excess of the said limitations, it is subject to limitation by Turkish courts. Accordingly, in a dispute, the court will not take into view the contractual non-compete obligation but will determine the scope of the non-compete obligation that could duly be agreed between the parties and proceed on that basis.

Please note that there is no specific regulation or established precedent under Turkish law regarding a non-compete in favour of a third person who is not the actual employer of the Manager in question (e.g. the parent company of the employer). As such, it is likely that a non-compete obligation in favour of such third person would be unenforceable under Turkish law.

A non-competition clause may be inserted into the employment contract, but it will only be valid if it was set out in writing with an adult employee. If a non-competition clause is inserted into a definite-term employment agreement, the compelling reasons that such a clause is necessary must be specified in writing in the employment agreement.

2.12 Miscellaneous

Regulated and listed companies should also be mindful of any obligations they may have under their regulatory rules and/or the rules applicable to their market listing. These rules are likely to limit the terms on which such companies can reimburse a director in connection with their removal from office or employment and can also subject a company to reporting obligations.

It should be noted that Turkish courts are extremely employee friendly and the same approach would prevail for the Managers. Therefore, complying with the necessary principles and procedures with regard to a termination is essential. For this purpose, all the relevant documents (e.g. the employment agreement) must be reviewed very carefully and all notices and notifications (i.e. the termination notices / notifications) must be prepared in a diligent manner and duly served.

The termination prohibitions that apply to employees also apply in the relationship with the managing director. Dutch employment law prohibits giving notice to certain categories of employees, such as pregnant women, members and former members of a works council (which will probably not be statutory directors), and employees who are absent due to illness (at least during the first two years).

If the statutory director falls ill before actually receiving the invitation to the shareholders' meeting, the employment agreement will not end automatically, but will remain in place. The statutory director will in that case be protected against termination of his employment agreement whereas his corporate position can end.