Turkey: Positive steps to facilitate access to decent work to Syrian refugees, but reality still challenging
Turkey Sends Mixed Signals to Syrian Job Seekers, 25 February 2017
A year ago, the Turkish government said it would give work permits to Syrians in the country. But the majority of Syrians are still unemployed, despite an expanding Turkish economy… Turkey is among of the world’s most sympathetic countries to Syrians; it has received more than 2,854,968 Syrian refugees, according to the latest statistics from the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)... On January 15, 2016, the government began allowing Syrians who had been registered for at least six months with Turkey’s labor protection system to work in the city where their document was issued… The law forbids paying Syrian workers less than the minimum annual salary for Turks, and requires employers to provide their Syrian employees with the same employee benefits as Turkish ones. That requirement is in contrast to where Syrians usually do not get the same benefits as citizens.
Despite these favorable conditions, Ayham and many other Syrians work illegally in Turkey, and the reality they face is very different from the one envisioned by Turkish law…the majority of the Syrians [Ayham] knows work long hours at wages less than the official monthly minimum wage – which is about 1,200 Turkish lira ($325). In many cases, employers will withhold the wages of Syrians or pay them irregularly, multiple sources told Al-Fanar Media. Syrians are afraid to go to the police to file a complaint because they work illegally. The first-time fine for illegal work is 600 Turkish lira ($163) and must be paid by the employer, according to the law.