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Reforming or Not Reforming: Does the New Law Really Change Sub-Contractor Relationships?

However, history has demonstrated that there can be hazardous consequences of sub-contracting if not applied in accordance with the law.

The employment of sub-contractors might seem like an effective method of production practice for companies to utilize. There are many reasons for employers in Turkey to choose to use sub- contractors. However, history has demonstrated that there can be hazardous consequences of sub-contracting if not applied in accordance with the law. For instance, the mining disaster that occurred on May 13, 2014 at Soma, Manisa, resulted in an official death toll of 301 workers. This was followed by several accidents in a billion dollar residence project construction site in September 2014. Because of these tragedies, the Turkish media and public opinion have begun discussions regarding the repercussions of sustaining such practices, considering the resulting risks.

Before discussing the changes brought by Law No. 6552, a brief introduction to the current sub-contractor regulations is necessary in order to understand what the new law brings to the table. There are two important pieces of legislation available under Turkish law. These are contained in the Labor Code, with Law No. 4857 (the “Labor Code”), and the Sub-Contractors Regulation based on Article 3 of the Labor Code (the “Regulation”). 

The Labor Code provides that only (i) ancillary work and (ii) work that requires technological expertise may be assigned to sub-contractors. The Regulation further emphasizes that the main work of the principal employer cannot be divided and assigned to sub-contractors. In light of these regulations, one may assume that Turkish policymakers aim to limit the scope of sub-contractor employment to specialized technological projects and/or ancillary work such as security or catering.