Turkey’s Integration to European Union in Terms of Occupational Health and Safety and Transformations in Work Life

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
In 2012, the Law No. 6331 Occupational Health and Safety Law entered into force in Turkey with the European Union directive no 89/391/EEC, dated 12.06.1989. Upon this development, ILO contracts, no. 155 and no. 161, were added to the Turkish employment legislation. Up until 2012, Turkey has had a compensation-based approach with regards to occupational health and safety. In this approach, Turkey is mostly behind the EU legislation and practices on the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. The main characteristics of the new approach adopted with the Law No. 6331 are the establishment of continuous improvement and prevention policy, the participation of employees to management, and continuous training of employees and their representatives on determined issues. The most important part of the EU integration in occupational health and safety legislation is to have the employees covered. The legislation before 2012 had very little employee coverage. With Law No. 6331, people in different employee statuses are now included in the legislation's scope regarding occupational accidents and diseases. The most important feature of the new period, which started with the entry into force of Law No. 6331, is that it has implemented a country policy supported by social parties and other stakeholders. The workplaces were classified during this period into “less dangerous”, “dangerous”, and “very dangerous” in accordance with NACE(Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes); and employer responsibilities were determined in increasing levels according to this classification. The most important element of the preventive approach in the new period is the obligation for “Risk Assessment”. Risk assessment can be defined as determining the risks in the working environment and make the threats, that employees may face, known in advance. The aim is to prevent occupational accidents and diseases before they occur. The weakest group with regards to occupational health and safety are subcontracted workers. It is known that a great number of work accidents originating from the lack of coordination between the sub-employer and the principal employer are recorded. Law No. 6331 guarantees the coordination of the sub-employer and the principal employer by introducing healthy conditions. Ensuring integration to the EU in occupational health and safety legislation in Turkey also brings new improvements in working life. While dependent employees are not able to effectively exercise their right to work, because the subcontracting method is a pervasive employment model, the regulation in 2018 put about one million subcontractors working in the public sector into the permanent status. In all sectors, new maternity leave and wage rights for working women have been put into effect. Pensioners' economic rights have been improved by giving them two bonuses each year. In the resolutions currently discussed in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, improvements in the personal rights of many public employees are addressed. Turkey addressing the occupational health and safety regulations with the aim of integration into the EU has opened the doors to many substantial improvements in working life that are revolutionary. This study aims to evaluate the new working life rights that were introduced with the integration of occupational health and safety into the EU and continued with the domino effect within the context of the EU acquis. In the study, the transformation of working life starting with Law No. 6331 until today will be discussed with all its phases. This study highlights the essential effects of Turkey’s integration efforts to the EU on the improvement in working life.
Occupational health and safety (OHS), Transformation of working life, EU integration in OHS, ოკუპაციური ჯანმრთელობა და უსაფრთხოება, შრომის პირობების ტრანსფორმაცია, ევროინტეგრაცია ოკუპაციური ჯანმრთელობისა და უსაფრთხოების საკითხებში