Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers (Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Directives 2006/54, 2010/18 and 2019/1158)

AuthorKadriye Bakirci
5 Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers
(Directive 92/85, relevant provi sions of D irectives 2006/54, 2010/18 and
5.1 General (legal) context
5.1.1 Surveys and reports on the practical difficulties l inked to work-life balance
The gender-based division of labour in Tu rkey mostly forces women to carry out the
housework, child and elder care. The t otal workload of women is always higher than me n
no matter in which category th e women stands. Among the OECD and 30 non-OECD
countries, the female population aged 15-64 in Turkey spend the highest p roportion of
time on household maintenance.151
The ILO’s Quantum Leap report sh ows that a number of fact ors are blocking equality in
employment, and the o ne playing the largest role is caregiving,152 and the ILO Office for
Turkey’s infographic poster shows that women’s unpaid care work, including child and
elderly care prevent them getting into paid labour.153
The Women's Empowerment Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2023),154 adopted by the
Directorate of Women’s Status in the Ministry of Family, Employment and Social Services
states that marriage and child care b oth increase women’s housework and weaken t heir
participation in labour markets, while the opposite is true for men. The major impediment
to women’s participation in the workforce stems from a lack of sufficient preschool
education and care services.155
As stated above, studies identify a motherhood penalty as a source of gend er pay gaps.
This pay gap indicator between mothers and non-mothers reveals striking results when
compared to the fatherhood premium indicating the pay gap between fathers and non-
5.1.2 Other issues
Although Turkey is not a party to the ILO Convention concerning Workers with Family
Responsibilities (No. 156), according to Article 12/2(c) of the UN Convention on the
150 See Masselot, A. (2018), Family leave: enforcement of the protection against dismissal and unfavourable
treatment European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination.
dismissal-and-unfavourable-treatment-pdf-962-kb; McColgan, A. (2015), Measures to address the
challenges of work-life balance in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, European
network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination.
151 See Memis, E., Ones, U. and Kizilirmak, B. (2012), ‘Housewifization of Women: Contextualising Gendered
Patterns of Paid and Unpaid Work’, in S. Dedeoglu and A. Elveren (eds.) Gender and Society in Turkey: The
Impact of Neo-liberal Policies, EU Accession and Political İslam, I.B.Tairus; See also ILO-CEACR,
Observation (CEACR) adopted 2015, published 105th ILC session (2016), Discrimination (Employment
and Occupation) Convention 1958 (No. 111).
152 ILO (2019) Quantum leap report.
154 Republic of Turkey Ministry of Family, Employment and Social Services General Directorate on the Status of
Women (Kadının Statüsü Genel Müdürlüğü), Strategy Paper and Action Plan on Empowerment of Women
(Kadının Güçlenmesi Strateji Belgesi ve Eylem Planı) (2018 - 2023)
155 Committee on Equality of Opportunity Between Men and Women for the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
(Kadin Erkek Firsat Eşitliği Komisyonu) (2013), Report on Promoting Women’s Employment in Turkey (Her
Alandaki Kadin İstihdaminin Artirilmasi ve Cözüm Önerileri Komisyon Raporu)
156 ILO (2019) Quantum leap report.
Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Turkey is under an obligation to encourage
the provision of supportive social care services to enable parents to combine family
obligations with work responsibilities and partici pation in public life. Specifically this is to
be carried out through the promotion of the establishment and development of a network
of childcare facilities. Pursuan t to the revised European Social Charter and with a view to
achieving equality of opportunit y and treatment for m en and women workers with family
responsibilities and between such workers and other workers, Turkey must undertake to
develop or promote services, public or private, and in particular child daycare services and
other childcare arrangements (Article 27).
5.1.3 Overview of national acts on work-life balance is sues
In order to provide work-life balance, employment legislation covers provisions related to
issues such as:
- maternity leave;
- paternity leave for biological fathers;
- paid and unpaid care leave for adopting parents;
- care leave for parents of disabled or ill children;
- unpaid care leave for biological employee mothers;
- unpaid care leave for civil servant parents;
- right to part time work for employee parents;
- right to part time work for civil servant mothers;
- right to switch from full-time work to part-time work and vice versa for empl oyee
- right to switch from full-time work to part-time work for civil servant mothers;
- right to return to work;
- protection against discrimination due to pregnancy, maternity, or family
- protection of employ ees against unjustified, invalid, abusive or discriminatory
- obligation of certain employers to establish nursing rooms and childcare centres;
- right to benefit from unpaid birth/maternity leave related to retroactive social
security p remium pa yment for women employees who stopped working not
exceeding two years after giving birth;
- right to change the night shifts for employee couples.
However, there are several gaps in or problems with the legislation:
- unpaid care leave is only recognised for biological employee mothers and there is no
unpaid care leave for biological employee fathers;
- a leave of absence for employees in the event of the illness of a dependent family
member is not recognised;
- there is no bottle-feeding leave for fathers of newly born children;
- there is no explicit provision recognising the right to return to work for employees
after taking leave; and
- the right to part-time work and the right to switch f rom full-time work to part-time
work is only recognised for women civil servants but not for male civil servants.
5.1.4 Political and societal debate and pending legislative p roposals
This subject is mostly discussed in the feminist academic literature,157 as well as at
conferences and in panels, seminars and training programmes organised by womens NGOs
to ensure that Turkish law is compatible with EU law.
157 See Bakirci, K., Karadeniz, O., Yilmaz, H., Lewis, E.N. and Durmaz, N. (2014), Women in the World of Work
(İş Dünyasında Kadın), Volume 2, Turkonfed Yayini, Istanbul; Bakirci, K. (2012), Searching for Gender
Equality and the Non-Discrimination Principle Based on Gender in Employment in International, European

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