Around 200,000 Turkish workers put on unpaid leave in July

Despite Turkey’s move to a normalisation stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 200,000 workers were placed on unpaid leave by employers in July alone, Cumhuriyet reported on Thursday.

The number of workers in Turkey on unpaid leave is now around 2 million, Cumhuriyet said - citing the latest figures from the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR).

Workers who are placed on unpaid leave by their employers are given a monthly "cash wage support" of 1,168 liras ($158.7). İŞKUR reported that just over 1.7 million workers were on unpaid leave by their employers in the April-June period.

In the April-July period, this number increased to just over 1.9 million - a rough increase of 200,000 workers going on unpaid leave in just one month.

Turkey’s parliament on April 16 ratified a bill drafted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that bans employee layoffs from the workplace for a period of three months to help combat the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the same bill also allows employers to place their workers on unpaid leave.

The number of workers benefiting from the short-term work allowance fell from 2.4 million to 1.7 million compared to the previous month. Workers were paid 2.5 billion liras in July under the short-term work allowance. 

Turkey’s unemployment insurance fund fell from 114.6 billion liras to 111.2 billion lira in July compared to the previous month, according to İŞKUR.

Before the epidemic, the fund contained over 130 billion liras.