The Constitution protects private life and in 2016 the Data Protection Law was enacted, furthering the protection of personal data. In disputes relating to the monitoring of employees' personal data in the workplace, the courts and the Data Protection Authority (DPA) have mostly based their decisions on the constitutional provisions. This article outlines the legal grounds for data processing in the employment context and highlights recent court and DPA decisions in this respect.
The Constitutional Court has once again considered the rights of personal data protection and the freedom of communication in an employment context following an employer's inspection of an employee's corporate email account and the termination of the employee based on the outcome of such inspection. The decision draws attention to the importance of the explicit information requirement in inspections conducted by employers and sheds light on the application of the principle of proportionality.
Pursuant to three presidential decrees recently published in the Official Gazette, the termination ban and unilateral unpaid leave, which were due to expire by 17 January 2021, have been extended until 17 March 2021. Further, the short-time working allowance granted to workplaces which had applied until 31 December 2020 has been extended until 28 February 2021. Similarly, the application deadline for the short-time working allowance has been extended until 31 January 2021.
At the beginning of each year, the minimum wage, severance payments and administrative fines prescribed by the Labour Act are revised. On 1 January 2021 the changes for 2021 came into effect. Among other changes, the monthly minimum wage rate has increased from TL2,943 (gross) to TL3,577.50 (gross).
Government bodies have introduced progressive measures and restrictions to minimise the COVID-19 pandemic's negative impact on employment and sustain employment relationships. One of the most significant arrangements in this respect is the termination prohibition. However, mutual termination agreements have become a point of contention in light of this prohibition as they are unregulated under Turkish law.
Law 7251 on the Amendment of the Civil Procedure Code and Certain Laws (Amendment Law) recently entered into force. One of the significant amendments introduced by the Amendment Law concerns Article 281 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) 6100, which regulates parties' objections to expert reports. With this amendment, parties can now request an extension from the court to file their objections against expert reports under certain circumstances.
Law 7251 recently entered into force, allowing the courts to conduct remote hearings through video and audio transmission either upon the parties' request or ex officio under certain circumstances. Although remote hearings are not new to Turkish law, allowing more space for such practices is significant given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this practice is available only in certain courts and more widespread use may create capacity problems for the existing judiciary infrastructure.
When the new Code of Civil Procedure was enacted, it enabled plaintiffs to file actions for unquantified amounts of receivables, the determination of which is left to the courts. The General Assembly of the Civil Chambers of the Court of Cassation General Assembly recently ruled that if an action for an unquantified amount of receivables is initiated despite the amount being determinable, the courts should not immediately reject the case but should instead proceed with the trial by deeming the action a partial action.
Under Decision 2480 on the Extension of the Suspension of Terms for the Prevention of Losses of Judicial Rights, the suspension of terms stipulated in Law 7226, which aimed to prevent any loss of rights in regard to trials due to the measures taken to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, has been extended. However, this date will be re-evaluated if the risk of spreading the virus is eliminated before the extension expires.
The Law on the Amendment of Certain Laws 7226 recently entered into force upon publication in the Official Gazette. Pursuant to Law 7226, the procedural terms will be suspended until 30 April 2020 in order to prevent any loss of rights in regard to trials due to the measures taken during the COVID-19 outbreak.