Turkey: Restricted Work Permits to Be Issued to Refugees

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By Jenny David

Feb. 9—Turkey's cabinet has decided to allow some of the country's 2.5 million Syrian and 300,000 Iraqi refugees to apply for work permits. The permits will be restricted, however, in order to protect domestic employment, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmu said Jan. 15.

According to a decree published in Turkey's Official Gazette, refugees “under temporary protection” will be able to apply for a work permit six months after receiving temporary identity cards, but will only be able to work in the provinces in which they officially reside. A 10-percent ceiling will be placed on their hiring by any single employer.

Refugees will also be barred from working in the tourism sector, and those working in agricultural may be paid a “flexible” wage, meaning less than the regulatory minimum.

A ‘Courageous' Step

The International Labor Organization and UN High Commissioner for Refugees were quick to welcome the move.

“Legal and formal work of refugees will lead to improved working conditions, allow social protection, and will benefit not only the refugees themselves, but also labor markets and the economy,” said Numan Ozcan, director of the ILO's Turkish office.

On his first visit to Turkey Jan. 19, Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, hailed the decision as a “courageous” step forward for refugees and said he hoped other countries would follow suit.

“I believe Turkey is an example of how refugees should be received,” Grandi said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Jerusalem at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

The ILO statement is available at http://www.ilo.org/ankara/news/WCMS_444117/lang--en/index.htm.

For more information on Turkish HR law and regulation, see the Turkey primer.