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Friday, 17 October 2008 00:00

Problems related to work permits

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This question comes from an English teacher. No names are disclosed.

Here it is: "As you may know, many foreign teachers work in Turkey, especially at language schools, without legal status.

They often work on tourist visas, though some may have an ikamet for at least living here legally. The government probably knows about this, but seems to turn a blind eye. When the inspectors arrive at a school, all the teachers are sent home. At the same time, all the teachers have signed contracts. I hear varied opinions of the contracts. One is that because they are in English, they are nonbinding.

My lawyer says that is not true -- they could be in Swahili if both sides understand the contents. The school I work at has promised work permits for the past few years, but very few have been produced. 1) Can teachers sue the school for not obtaining work permits and 2) if they are working here illegally and sue, does that put them at risk of being deported? This is a really big problem for teachers and it would be helpful to have your opinion on this. If you have other opinions to add to it, that would be helpful too. Thanks in advance…"

How do the authorities become aware of illegal workers?

Workplaces are inspected by the authorities, but apparently it is almost useless to have all illegal workers sent home in case of inspection. The question should be: "How come the schools know about the inspectors' arrival?" I don't really know the answer. It is a fact that the government cannot follow up with illegal workers unless it is reported to the authorities by someone who knows this relationship.

The validity of employment contracts

Your lawyer is right when he or she says that an employment contract will be valid even if it is in Swahili, as long as the parties understand the contents.

Can teachers sue the school for not obtaining work permits?

It is not possible to sue the school on grounds that the school did not apply for a work permit because the system works as follows:

It is the foreigner her/himself who is obliged to obtain a work permit.

The work permit should be obtained before starting work.

It is forbidden for employers to employ any foreign employees if the foreign employee does not have a work permit.

Consequently the employees, in our case the English teachers, cannot sue the school for not obtaining work permits. However, it would be possible to sue the employer if the employer was supposed to pay all expenses for the work permit and assist (hiring a lawyer for obtaining the work permit) the employee in obtaining a work permit.

If they are working here illegally and sue, does that put them at risk of being deported?

Not having a work permit alone does not necessarily mean that the illegal worker will be deported. In case there are other issues -- such as having no residence permit and the visa is expired -- which may end up in deporting the illegally working foreign person, yes of course there is a risk of deportation.

Is there any fine for the employee or the employer?

Yes, certainly.

For the employees

The illegal workers working for an employer (and not self-employed) will be subject to a fine in the event the authorities become aware of the illegal worker. The amount of the fine is roughly around $600 for the illegal worker. If the illegal worker keeps working without a permit the fine shall be doubled.

Those illegal self-employed workers will be subject to a fine at an amount of (roughly around) $1200 for the illegal worker. If the illegal worker keeps working without a permit the fine shall be raised twice as much.

For the employers

The employers who recruit illegal workers will be fined in the event the authorities become aware of the illegal worker. The amount of the fine is roughly around $3,000 for each illegal worker recruited. In the event the employer keeps working with illegal workers, the fine shall be doubled the next time.

The employers shall also be obliged to pay the illegal worker’s and its family’s accommodation costs as well as pay for their return home.

Are there any further sanctions?

The illegal workers will be reported to the Ministry of Interior.

The employers who employ illegal workers can be fined for misinforming the authorities and the fine for this is around $6,000.

Conclusion

Please obtain a work permit before you start to work. It would be a good idea to ask the school to assist you in obtaining the work permits. Please get assistance from professionals before you sign any agreement and before you apply for a work permit.

Read 1170 times Last modified on Sunday, 21 June 2015 19:42