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.
Whether employers can review employees' corporate email accounts and rely on any findings collected during such an inspection in a potential termination is a controversial issue in terms of personal data protection and privacy. The Constitutional Court has rendered two recent decisions on the right to privacy and privacy of communication with regard to corporate email accounts. Both decisions elaborate in particular on employees' information rights.