Turkey bars companies from laying off workers for another two months

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan extended a ban on firms laying off workers, a measure first implemented after the outbreak of COVID-19 in March last year.

Firms in Turkey will be barred from laying off workers for a further two months, Erdoğan said in a decree published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday. The measure was due to expire on March 17.

Turkey’s government is providing financial support to workers who are put on short working weeks or on unpaid leave. The measures have helped curb an increase in official unemployment, which stood at 12.9 percent in the three months to December.

Financial support for affected employees will also be extended by two months, Erdoğan said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in the number of people of working age who are without work and no longer seeking employment. The number of people who classify themselves as not in the labour force has increased by 2.61 million and employment has shrunk by 1.1 million in the 12 months to December, according to official data. Most of those people are women.

The services industry has been hit hardest by the pandemic. It lost 751,000 working people last year.

The Turkish Statistical Institute is due to publish unemployment data for January on Wednesday.