Turkey will ban employment layoffs for 3 months under coronavirus measures: report

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An employee looks over towards the control tower of the Istanbul New Airport under construction on April 13, 2018, during press tour in northern Istanbul. - The inauguration of the airport, a Grimshaw design in collaboration with an international architectural team, is planned to to take place in October 2018. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

Turkey would ban layoffs for three months under draft legislation aimed at protecting those lacking job security and mitigating the blow to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak, two senior officials told Reuters.

“The proposed law would be guaranteeing employment and aims to protect employees who are not eligible for short-labor pay and are put on unpaid leave,” one of the officials said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be authorized by parliament to extend this period to six months, the sources said.

They said the law would be passed soon but gave no date. However, it would apply to anyone who had been laid off or put on unpaid leave as of March 15, and is not eligible for unemployment benefits. They would be paid a daily 39.24 lira ($5.80) by the government.

Turkey’s death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease triggered by the coronavirus, stood at 812 on Wednesday, the health ministry said, among a total of more than 38,000 confirmed cases.

Ankara has halted all flights, limited intercity travelling, closed schools, bars and cafes and suspended community prayers to counter the outbreak. But people are still going to work as Erdoğan seeks to sustain economic production and exports.

Some firms in the aviation and tourism sectors have begun part-time work and unpaid leave schemes, while a number of manufacturers have temporarily halted production. Food stores and online delivery services have announced extra hiring as demand spikes.

The government has also offered to pay 60 percent of the wages of employees working in businesses suffering from the outbreak, while state banks have offered loans to companies that keep their employee headcount stable during this period.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 13.7 percent at the end of last year, remaining at elevated levels since a 2018 currency crisis, and economists say a further rise is likely as a result of measures taken to stem transmission of the coronavirus.

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