Only 30 pct of applicants granted unemployment benefits amid pandemic in 2021

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Out of 194,369 people in Turkey who applied for unemployment benefits in the first three months of 2021, only 57,898 of them were approved for the monthly payments, according to data from the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR), local media reported on Saturday.

Only 30 percent of applicants have been granted unemployment benefits, which range from TL 1,420 ($173) to TL 2,840 ($347), in the first quarter of this year, a steep decline from 55 percent in 2020.

According to İŞKUR, whose data comes from workers who register with the agency and provide preliminary indicators of employment trends ahead of the release of official data, the reported number of unemployed in the country in March was 2,663,916 with a 7 percent decline compared to February. Over 35 percent of these workers fell in the 15-to-24 age group.

Meanwhile, employers in Turkey fired a total of 176,662 workers — 142,517 men and 34,145 women — from their jobs in 2020, data received from Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) recently showed.

The dismissals occurred in spite of a ban on layoffs aimed at limiting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and the economy in general that was introduced in April 2020 for three months but then extended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan several times and is currently in effect until May 17, 2021.

Deutsche Welle Turkish edition said in a recent report that the dismissals were based on “Code-29,” which is an exception to the ban and refers to employees’ “immoral, dishonorable or malicious conduct” that is detailed in subsection two of Article 25 of Labour Law No. 4857 and includes theft, coming to work under the influence of alcohol or narcotic drugs, or an attempt at sexual harassment of another worker.

Some critics argue that the restriction imposed on employers during the coronavirus pandemic had led to them to fire their employees via Code-29, which deprives the workers fired under it of the chance to receive severance pay or unemployment benefits.

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