This summary of age discrimination law in Turkey has been prepared by Bener Law Office, the Ius Laboris member for Turkey: www.bener.av.tr
Because of Turkey’s relatively young population, there has been little need to regulate direct age discrimination against older employees. Nevertheless, the issue is touched upon. Indirect discrimination against employees who reach retirement age is regulated by virtue of the Labour Code and Constitution. Beyond the international treaties entered into by Turkey, such as the “Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination towards Women,” any kind of discrimination during the recruitment process is prohibited. In addition, pursuant to the related provision in Turkish Criminal Law, any discrimination during the recruitment of employees is a criminal offense. Turkey is also party to convention III, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) convention, 1958 of the ILO which prohibits any discrimination, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction of social origin (which includes social characteristics such as ethnic groups/nationality/language, etc.) that has the effect of preventing equal opportunity or treatment in the workplace.
Generally, in Turkey, an employer can terminate the employment agreement based on age. In other words, retirement is a justified reason for termination provided that the employer applies the same decision to all of its employees of same age. Parallel with this rule, certain decisions of the Supreme Court adopt the view that in case the employer intends to terminate the employment agreements of all of its employees who reach retirement age, termination based on age can be considered a justifiable ground since the employer has adopted a general decision amongst its employees of same age and without discrimination.
To date, there are few legal claims against employers regarding age discrimination in Turkey. Furthermore, age discrimination in Turkey could be further protected if Turkey is able to accede to the EU. The country will need to harmonise its laws with other EU states and will have to comply with existing EU laws on age discrimination.