Registered Employment in Turkey
It is indisputable that the economy in Turkey maintains its strong stance despite the global economic crisis. On the other hand, the high level of unregistered employment is one of the biggest obstacles to our economy, which may become stronger. For this article, we talked to Ahmet Açıkgöz, Head of Strategy Development of the Social Security Institution, the Senior Representative of our Technical Assistance for the Promotion of Registered Employment project carried out by the Social Security Institution with the Technical Support of WYG Turkey, which completed its first year last September. I suggest you carefully read Mr. Açıkgöz’s views on the obstacles to registered employment in Turkey, innovative approaches to increasing registered employment, the activities of the project, which has very successful outputs, and its contributions to registered employment.
- What are the main obstacles to the increase / spread of registered employment in our country?
The structure of unregistered employment differs according to the level of development of countries. One of the most common situations in developing countries like our country is the unregistered employment of employees against their will. One of the main reasons for this is the high unemployment rate and the unqualified workforce. In recent years, migration from rural to urban areas has increased in our country. The workforce that came to the big city with these migrations is unskilled and the education level is low. These people are willing to work informally to meet their basic needs and social security is secondary for these people. The unqualified workforce and the low level of general education can be considered as one of the obstacles to the increase in formal employment. There is an inverse relationship between education level and informality. Another situation that is frequently encountered in our country is that people prefer to work informally in order not to lose the health benefits provided by the state with the green card and social benefits based on the green card. In both cases, it is obvious that there is a lack of knowledge and awareness about the necessity of social security. People change their current useful situation to the benefit they will provide in the future by working as registered. To explain the issue with an example, our Institution provides a survivor’s pension to the surviving relatives determined by the provisions of the law in case of the death of those who fulfill the necessary conditions. A family head who is aware of this does not want to deprive his family of this income by working informally.
- What is our country’s stance in the implementation of innovative approaches in the Promotion of Registered Employment? What are the services provided by SSI in promoting registered employment based on the concept of “incentive based on guidance” and what are the concrete outputs of these services?
Following the reform work, the Social Security Institution started a new era in the fight against informality. The new method, which emphasizes the guidance services beyond the classical audit approach and is designed with a preventive approach, aims to increase the knowledge level of all relevant parties at the central and provincial level. Numerous measures were implemented during this period, from the inclusion of social security in school curricula to awareness-raising activities carried out by the Guidance and Inspection Department and our provincial directorates. With many different incentives put into practice, employers were encouraged to register.
As the Strategy Development Directorate of our institution, we aim to support these studies with the Project of Encouraging Registration with Innovative Measures, which we have implemented in order to contribute to the efforts of promoting registration and which we also carry out together with the Guidance and Inspection Directorate of our Institution. With this project, in addition to many institutional capacity building activities, 42 projects with budgets ranging from 150,000-400,000 Euros, prepared by NGOs under the human resources development operation supported by the EU and our country, were funded by our Institution within the scope of innovative practices in promoting registered employment. The main purpose of these projects is to explain the importance of registered employment to the public through NGOs. In addition, it is aimed to provide direct registered employment by carrying out trainings in some projects. The duration of these projects is one year and they were completed on 15 July 2011. A team formed within our institution has followed these projects in every aspect. Our provincial directorates provided the necessary support to the activities carried out at the local level. The cooperation with NGOs during the projects, both at the center and locally, is a concrete indication that our Institution attaches importance to guidance as much as supervision.
In addition, the materials for the information activities prepared by the relevant units of our Institution were sent to the sector representatives of 53 non-governmental organizations in 16 sectors in the provinces in 2010. Relevant units of our institution are open to all kinds of information and cooperation in terms of guidance activities. In addition, through the Alo 170 notification and complaint hotline, all questions of our citizens regarding social security were answered and the opportunity to report informality was provided.
The number of Social Security Inspectors working in the provincial units of our institution and taking part in both supervision and guidance studies was increased to 712, with 300 people recruited by open appointment at the beginning of 2008, and the status and personal rights of this group were increased. In the near future, the number of qualified personnel will be increased at least three times. As a result of the inspections carried out by the inspectors between the second half of 2008 and August 2011, 94,516 people and 20,360 workplaces were registered.
- How do you evaluate the importance of cooperation between public institutions and organizations in increasing registered employment and the current situation in our country on the subject?
Cooperation between public institutions and organizations is of great importance in increasing registered employment. For example, if a person registered with the tax administration does not pay social security premiums while paying taxes to the state, the tax administration informs our Institution about this person and our Institution takes the necessary measures, which will increase registered employment. In this context, our Institution has signed protocols with 22 public and private institutions. With these protocols, the data that should be reported to our Institution by other public institutions and private institutions are transmitted to the KADİM (Combating the Informality ) Services established to combat unregistered employment in our provincial organization, and this information is evaluated by our KADİM service personnel and necessary actions are taken. As a result of the evaluation of these data, many people were registered.
As a result of the measures taken by our institution in the field of combating unregistered employment and the cooperation efforts developed with other institutions, it was determined that 52,500 workplaces with a total of 951.301 employees were registered between the second half of 2008 and August 2011. In 2010 alone, 16,386 workplaces and 358,540 employees were registered.
Our efforts to carry out a risk analysis by evaluating the data received from other institutions and organizations continue both with the institution’s own resources and within the scope of the Registered Employment Promotion Project. Within the scope of the project, the implementation of preventive measures in the fight against unregistered employment will be supported with a software specially designed for the use of our Agency’s inspection units.
- What do you think are the effects of the concept of “flexicurity” on preventing informality?
The provision of social security for people working with flexible working styles in particular carries difficulties for various reasons. First of all, these types of jobs are not long-term jobs, and entry and exit can be fast. In addition, the income of these employees is low. However, this situation also makes these types of workers more in need of social security. Law No. 5510 recognized the right for flexible workers to pay for the time they did not work, with voluntary contributions. However, the low income of the employees and the voluntary insurance payment on their behalf during the working period were not common. With a regulation introduced by Law No. 6111, progress has been made in this regard. According to the Law No. 4857, the insurance holders working with part-time employment contracts have the right to borrow for the missing periods of the months in which they worked part-time. Thus, a flexible employee will be able to borrow and increase the number of insured days in the relevant month, when his/her economic situation improves, excluding the days he/she worked flexibly as insured. Again, with the Law No. 6111, flexible employees were given the right to optionally pay unemployment insurance premiums corresponding to the days they did not work during the month, thus enabling this group to benefit from unemployment insurance more easily.
According to the Law No. 6111, those working in commercial taxis, minibuses and similar urban public transportation vehicles, film, theatre, stage, performance, sound and instrumental artists, and those working in all branches of fine arts including music, painting, sculpture, decorative and similar occupations, thinkers and writers, who are employed by one or more people under a part time work contract in areas to be determined by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and whose days of work is lower than 10 days as calculated according to the work hours in the month under the person they work, may pay their contributions over 30 days. They will pay their premiums so as not to exceed thirty folds by increasing one point for reach consecutive year starting from the eighteenth folds the lower limit of the daily earning on which the premium is based in the year in which this article came into force. Thus, it is aimed to facilitate the insurance of the listed groups.
- In the past period, many trainings and seminars were held in the center and in the provinces within the scope of the “Technical Assistance Project for the Promotion of Registered Employment” (KİTUP). At the same time, the awareness raising campaign on the sensitivity of the issue and the development of a database open to common use among institutions are some of the main objectives of the project. Can you give an example of the project’s work on promoting registered employment?
KİTUP project consists of four basic components: education, information technologies, awareness raising and social security components. Within the scope of each of these four components, actions are carried out on the promotion of registered employment. Under the Social Security component, in parallel with the social security models in the world and in Europe, examples of combating informality and the current situation of our country are examined, research continues and the framework of strategy documents is created. In the Information Technologies component, an inter-institutional database is created that can be used to detect informality. Through this database, important steps will be taken to eliminate the lack of inter-institutional cooperation, which is one of the most important causes of informality, and thus, the most important actors in increasing registered employment will continue their work in a coordinated manner based on the same data and information.
Within the scope of the trainings carried out under the training component, especially SSI inspectors at the central level, SGK Provincial Directorates and provincial organizations, Ancient Office personnel, employers and labor union representatives at the peripheral and provincial organizations level are considered as target groups. So far at the central level, project cycle management, leadership and awareness raising training, informality training seminar for inspectors, training of trainers were organized, while 9 regional trainings were organized locally in Kayseri, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Erzurum, Kars, Trabzon, Van and Samsun. In addition to the trainings, SGK Inspectors attended a study visit to France in June and had the opportunity to learn about European examples and practices. It can be said that the works in the field of capacity building will continue with activities at the central and local level until the end of the project.
In the awareness-raising component, which is another component, activities are carried out to raise awareness on registered employment through awareness-raising conferences, national and local press conferences, communication and visibility materials, especially in NUTS II regions. Again, the first of these conferences was held in Mardin last May, while the second was held in Samsun in October. In this framework, posters, brochures, and storybooks for primary school children, created with the central approval of the SSI, were prepared and distributed to the NUTS II regions, which are the target provinces of the project. We expect the television commercial, which was shot within the scope of the project and will be shown on national and local televisions in the coming days, to contribute significantly to the promotion of registered employment throughout Turkey.
After the completion of the 1st year of the project in September 2011, the activities under the aforementioned components will continue. The project is scheduled to end in June 2012. After the KİTUP Project, we are working on new project ideas to continue the progress in similar work areas.