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EMPLOYER’S PROTECTION- SURVEILLANCE OBLIGATION AND COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Employees and employers, who are parties to the employment contract, fall under certain obligations in the context of the employment contract. In terms of workers, the debts arising from the employment contract include business conduct a work activity, obedience, loyalty and non-competition; for the employer, it can be summarized as paying wages and caring workers, paying workers’ expenses, acting equally.

Within the scope of the employment contract, the worker undertakes the obligation to fulfill an act, while the employer undertakes the payment debt which corresponds to the laborer’s labor as the basic debt. So much that there can be no employment without a fee.

In addition to the employer’s wage payment debt, the employer’s protection and surveillance debt is also an important element of the employment contract. Although the doctrine is subject to different interpretations in the broad and narrow sense, the debt of the employers’ protection and surveillance can be briefly examined under the sub-headings of protecting the personality of the worker, protection against sexual and psychological harassment (mobbing).

In connection with the employer’s protection and surveillance obligation, the employer also owes to take occupational health and safety measures. The legal values protected under the employee’s debt of protection and surveillance is the employee’s physical, life and health integrity and these mentioned issues must be protected by the employer against the dangers that may occur at work.

As a matter of fact, there has been a regulation made on article 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act no. 6331 dated 20.06.2012 and article 417 of the Code of Obligations in order to explain the debt of the employer in terms of protection and care.

Employer in this scope;

  • Must take every precaution to ensure occupational health and safety,
  • Must fully ensure the necessary tools and equipment.

Within the scope of the aforementioned measures, all kinds of risk analysis should be carried out and measures should be taken to the specified risks and workers should be given training on occupational health and safety. If the worker needs extra tools, clothing, etc. to use within the scope of the specified measures, the employer is obliged to provide the specified materials to the employee.

Accordingly; alternative measures to be taken by the employer who owes the employee protection and surveillance in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic can be sorted as below:

  • In terms of the activity performed if it is possible, it should be changed to home office. Although it is not possible to work from home in every industry, especially in the service sector, works which are preformed via using computer technologies it is possible to work from home. Given that we are in the 21st century and in the age of digitalization, the necessary adaptation is easier to do. For example, interpreting, architecture or advertising graphics can be counted as professions suitable for working from home.
  • If it is not possible to work from home, the employer must take all necessary measures.
  • Disinfectant ingredients, antibacterial gel etc.  should be ready for workers’ access in common areas within the workplace.
  • Training of employees related to fighting against epidemic and measures taken; and notifications should be made.
  • Sterile masks and gloves that workers can use during work should be provided to the employees by the employer.

Thus, the employer will perform appropriate activities in the context of protection and surveillance obligation and protect the worker against the epidemic; and the employee, will be provided to work in a healthy and safe working environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic has become the main agenda in all areas as it spreads rapidly around the world and has become a global problem.

It is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic also negatively affects business activities. In the context of preventing the spread of the epidemic, especially increasing the social distance, restricting the street for certain age groups and quarantine practices affect the workflow.

Measures to be taken in terms of each sector may vary. Factors such as activity and characteristics of the workplace should be considered. It is useful to specify the principles for the implementation of the basic measures that should be taken in the general framework.


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