Fethiye Chambers of Commerce have distributed a letter to hotels in the local area reminding businesses of a range of legal obligations.

Fethiye Chambers of Commerce have distributed a letter to hotels in the local area reminding businesses of a range of legal obligations. One is to ensure all staff on the payroll are provided with SSK, the Turkish Social Security payments, another is that it is illegal to employ children. Both are laudable aims and should be encouraged as they help to protect Turkish employees and reduce exploitation by unscrupulous owners.

In addition, the letter clearly states that it is illegal to employ foreigners without a work permit. All Non-Turkish citizens who are working here must have a work permit approved by the appropriate government department in Ankara. If you are a foreigner and you are discovered to be working without a permit then you will fall foul of the law and suffer the consequences. Fines seem to be the punishment of choice at the moment but ultimately, as a final sanction, persistent offenders may well find themselves escorted to the airport by the Jandarma and politely but firmly evicted from the country. Rumour has it that some employers assure their foreign staff that they do not need a permit because they are working in the tourist industry. This is not true. All foreign workers need a permit.

In the past it seems many companies have shied away from obtaining work permits for their foreign employees because of the cost and not inconsiderable effort required to obtain them, and also the accepted belief that the authorities are ill equipped and lack the resources to track down and investigate such matters. Again, this is not so. The situation is changing now that the government is beginning to introduce new computer systems and records, providing information that can be shared by many departments, such as the police, Jandarma, immigration and tax offices. This is in all probability part of the drive to bring their affairs up to the standards required by the EU as part of Turkey’s accession negotiations.

As if all that wasn’t enough to contend with, remember also that once you have your work permit you are then required by law to apply for a separate work visa and a residency visa. These visas, naturally, have their own charges, so the cost now really does begin to mount up. Unless the law has changed very recently, the initial work visa – the one that a person applies for in the first instance after obtaining their work permit – can only be issued in the applicant’s country of origin, so for the British this necessitates a visit to the Turkish Consulate in London. The residency visa must be obtained from the passport police in Fethiye. Both work and residency visas cannot extend beyond the period covered by your work permit – and the first work permit a person applies for is usually issued for one year only.

Complicated, yes. Irksome, yes. Expensive, yes, but better than getting a knock on the door in the middle of night followed by an unscheduled trip to Dalaman!