Determination of the Objective Reason Condition in the Conclusion and Renewal of Fixed Term Employment ContractsCanan Ünal Adınır
An employment contract may be executed for a fixed or indefinite term. An indefinite-term employment contract is the rule of thumb, whereas a fixed-term contract is an exception. According to Article 11 of the Employment Code No 4857, a fixed-term contract may be signed when it is based on an objective reason, such as fixed-term work, the completion of a certain job, or the emergence of a relevant fact. There is no similar provision in other employment codes, which is why concluding a fixed-term employment contract with a worker covered by the Employment Code is more difficult than terminating workers excluded from the said code. This strict structure to conclude a fixed-term employment contract of the Employment Code has been criticized by the doctrine. According to Article 11, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the Employment Code and Article 430 of the Obligation Code No. 6098, to renew a fixed-term employment contract with all workers, an objective reason is required. This article explains what “objective reason” means and if such a condition is suitable and evaluates the debates in the doctrine and legal studies regarding the objective reason condition in the conclusion of fixed-term employment contracts, regulated in Article 11 of the Employment Code. Further, the author discusses whether an exception should be introduced into the objective cause condition. This article next examines the objective reason condition for the renewal of fixed-term employment contracts. In this framework, in addition to the objective reason condition, the application of a “time limit” and a “number limit” will be evaluated to prevent abuse in the renewal of employment contracts by using successive fixed-term employment agreements.
Belirli Süreli İş Sözleşmesinin Yapılması ve Yenilenmesinde Objektif Neden Koşulunun DeğerlendirilmesiCanan Ünal Adınır
İş sözleşmeleri belirli veya belirsiz süreli olarak yapılabilmekle birlikte hukukumuzda belirsiz süreli iş sözleşmesi kural, belirli süreli iş sözleşmesi ise istisnadır. İş Kanunu m. 11/1 hükmü uyarınca belirli süreli iş sözleşmesi, belirli süreli işlerde veya belli bir işin tamamlanması veya belirli bir olgunun ortaya çıkması gibi objektif nedene bağlı olarak yapılabilir. Diğer iş kanunlarında benzer bir düzenlemeye yer verilmemiş olup bunun da sonucunda belirli süreli iş sözleşmesinin yapılması bakımından en katı kanun İş Kanunu m. 11 hükmü doktrinde eleştirilere konu olmuştur. Aynı madde hükmünün 2 ve 3. fıkralarında ise, belirli süreli iş sözleşmesinin yenilenmesi objektif neden koşuluna bağlanmıştır. Benzer bir düzenlemeye ise Türk Borçlar Kanunu m. 430 hükmünde yer verilmiştir. Dolayısıyla belirli süreli iş sözleşmesinin ilk defa yapılmasından farklı olarak yenilenmesinde iş kanunları arasında önemli bir farklılık bulunmamaktadır. Bu makalede, objektif nedenin ne anlama geldiği ve koşulun yerindeliği tartışılacaktır. Bu bağlamda, İş Kanunu m. 11 hükmü ile belirli süreli iş sözleşmelerinin ilk defa yapılmasında aranan objektif neden koşuluna yönelik doktrindeki tartışmalar ve kanun çalışmaları değerlendirilecek olup objektif neden koşulu için nasıl bir istisna getirilebileceği ve de getirilmemesi gerektiği açıklanacaktır. Ardından da belirli süreli iş sözleşmelerinin yenilenmesinde aranan objektif neden koşulu incelenecektir. Bu çerçevede objektif neden koşuluna ilave olarak belirli süreli iş sözleşmelerinin yenilenmesinde kötüye kullanmaları engellemek için “süre sınırı” ve “sayı sınırı”nın hukukumuz açısından uygulaması değerlendirilecektir.
An employment contract may be executed for fixed or indefinite terms. An indefinite-term employment contract is the rule of thumb, whereas a fixed-term contract is an exception. This article, firstly, determines whether the objective reason condition is required to conclude and renew a fixed-term employment contract. Secondly, it explains “objective reason” and the consequences when there is no objective reason. This article concludes with a criticism of the provisions based on an objective reason to terminate and renew a fixed-term employment contract and some suggestions going forward.
The only code that requires the objective reason condition to conclude a fixedterm contract is Employment Code No. 4857 (hereafter “EC”). This code applies to all workers irrespective of their job, excluding the exceptions listed in Article 4. The EC provisions shall not be applied to such exceptions and workers who are covered by other special employment codes. Article 11 of EC is, therefore, applicable only to conclude (and renew) a fixed-term contract with workers covered by the EC.
Article 11 of the EC is as follows:
The written employment contract between the employer and the worker is called a fixed-term contract when it is based on an objective reason, such as fixed-term work, the completion of a certain job, or the emergence of a fact.
Accordingly, an employment contract that is not based on an objective reason will be considered an indefinite-term employment contract. Whether the lack of objective reason is considered automatically by the judge or can be put forward by the employer is a hot topic of debate. According to the majority and the latest judgments of the Court of Appeal, only the worker can put the lack of objective reason forward. This upholds Article 11’s intent to protect workers by preventing the abuse of the employer’s rights.
There are no similar provisions in other employment codes requiring an objective reason to conclude a fixed-term contract. For this reason, the EC is seen as the strictest code and is criticized by the doctrine.
As a result of such debates, lawmakers introduced a modification to the law during the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 5, 2020. A proposed modification of Article 11 included a provision that excepted workers in a certain age group from the condition of objective reason in the conclusion and renewal of a fixed-term employment contract. Such a provision is contrary to the prohibition of age discrimination; this is almost certainly why the provision have not been enacted.
In the author’s opinion, exceptions regarding the objective reason condition can be foreseen by considering a balance between workers’ protection and the need for flexibility of enterprises in the conclusion of a fixed-term employment contract. This being said, however, changes in the law should not bring about new legal problems.
Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 11 are as follows:
Unless there is a compelling reason, successive fixed-term employment contracts are not allowed. Otherwise, that employment contract is considered from the very beginning to be a contract for an indefinite term. A successive employment contract basing on a compelling reason maintains its status for a fixed term.
Here, the “compelling reason” is considered the same as the “objective reason” in paragraph 1 of Article 11. Accordingly, if there is a fixed-term contract and the objective reason subsists or a new objective reason arises, it is possible to renew the employment contract for a fixed term.
A similar provision appears in the Turkish Obligation Code No. 6098 (hereafter “OC”). Paragraph 2 of Article 430 of the OC is as follows: “If a fixed-term contract is continued implicitly after the end of its term, it turns into an indefinite-term contract. If there is a compelling reason, successive fixed-term employment contracts are allowed.” This provision is applicable not only to employment relations under the OC but also to those under the Maritime Employment Code No. 854 (hereafter “Maritime EC”) and the Press Employment Code No. 5953 (hereafter “Press EC”). This is because the EC is the general employment code and applies in the case of legal gaps that may exist in specific codes, including the Maritime EC and the Press EC.
While a fixed-term employment contract may be successively executed, there is no limit to the number of times and the length for which such a contract may be renewed. The doctrine and the judgments of the Court of Appeal suggest determining a limit on how many times and for how long an employment contract may be renewed. In the author’s opinion, the best way forward is to add a paragraph to Article 11 of the EC and to Article 430 of the OC to set this limit. However, the legal instruments for the prohibition of abuse of the right and protection purpose of the articles prevent the contract from being renewed forever. Judges may make decisions by considering such instruments. For example, taking into consideration paragraph 3 of Article 430 of the OC, it should be accepted that fixed-term contracts with a total duration of more than 10 years.