Regulation for working mothers creates debate in Turkey
Hacer Boyacıoğlu - ANKARAWorking mothers with young children will be able to work part-time according to a new regulation on flexible working options, with the resulting labor gap filled by “rented workers,” whose employment contracts will be terminated upon the mothers’ return to work.
The new regulation, which was accepted in the plenary session of parliament, allows one of the parents in a two-parent family with younger children to work part-time until their children begin primary school, following the parental leave period.
However, sector representatives have expressed their concerns that the regulation could create problems in the job market.
After all parties in the job market voiced their concerns over how this system would be effective in the private sector, it was decided to prepare a by-law regarding which sectors or businesses this part-time system will be available in during the upcoming period.
The head of the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş), Ergun Atalay, said union members are not sure whether this regulation would create an obstacle in front of women trying to find a job.
“This regulation brings about some sort of rented worker system, claiming that the right to work part-time for mainly working mothers can be compensated only through this mechanism. This mechanism can however be used in cleaning, agriculture or patient care for a short time, but cannot be applicable in other jobs,” he said.
According to the regulation, the contract of the “rented worker” will automatically be terminated when a working mother’s part-time working period ends. Any worker with an unemployed spouse cannot benefit from this right. Expectant mothers can benefit from unpaid leave for half of their working time for a 60-day period after their maternity leave ends following the birth of their first child. This will extend to 120 days for the second birth and 180 days for the third birth.
Working mothers who benefit from this cannot use breastfeeding leave. One of the parents will have the right to work part-time until their children begin primary education, according to the regulation.
Minister suggests ‘sanctions for incompliance’
Family and Social Policies Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu defined the new regulation as a “magnificent” arrangement which did not exist in European countries. “This is a great option for women, not just for those who want to raise their children but who want to continue their studies, or hobbies, etc.,” she said in a meeting on Jan. 29 in Istanbul with female journalists.
“By providing a flexible working option, we will increase women employment as other women will be employed to replace those using this option,” she said, responding to criticism the new regulation may have the opposite of the desired effect.
When asked if the system might work to the disadvantage of women, especially in the private sector, as employers would prefer to hire male full-time workers, the minister said they were concerned about those worries.
“If we face resistance, sanctions might be introduced for the private sector; we can think of some measures,” she said.