Turkish Laws on Working Children

The history of Turkey starts on 23rd of April 1920 when all ties with the Ottoman Empire were cut. This is the date on which the Turkish Grand National Assembly was established at Ankara. Nowadays, this particular day is celebrated as the “National Sovereignty and Children’s Day Festival”.

The first legal regulation in Turkish history of social policies is a local regulation concerning Zonguldak, the coal mining area of Turkey. In this regulation (law dated 10.09.1921 and # 151) the minimum age for working in galleries was determined as 18.

The first two general laws concerning the working children are;

  1. Law of Obligations
  2. Law on General Health Protection

The law of obligations (1926) which includes provisions on labour relations, also contains some rules with the aim of protecting the rights of apprentices. One of these is “Apprenticeship Contract Agreement” that still prevails despite having a limited scope of implementation (Article 318). In addition to this Article 330 ensures apprenticeship training and excluding nights and weekends from the working hours of apprentices.

The Law on General Health Protection (1930) is one of the most comprehensive and important laws of Turkey about public health. The cornerstones of the Turkish social policy have originated from this law that came into effect six years prior to the acceptance of the labour law. It has put forth important provisions through its special section titled “Protection of Children” One of these is specifying the minimum age of 12 for working children. This regulation has such an extensive scope that it has even constituted a basis for a Supreme Court Order, resulting in the rejection of the participation of a child under this age into “imece”, the local name for the collaboration of villagepeople. This regulation also forbids, children between the ages 12 and 16 age to work more than eight hours a day.

The Labour Law was accepted in 1936, and the “Regulations on Hard and Dangerous Work” based on this in 1940. According to this regulation, children under the age of 18 cannot be employed in work constituting a threat to their safety and damaging their health, as listed in the attachment.

Among the ILO Agreements accepted at various dates since 1937, those concerning children are as follows:

ILO Agreement #

Acceptance date by ILO

Acceptance date by Turkey

























Several amendments have been made in the Labour Law at various dates. With the amendment dated 22.5.2003, based on the law # 4857, a provision stating that children under age of 15 are not allowed to work, was added to the Labour Law. For special and exceptional cases, this age can be reduced to 13. School hours for children who are also attending to school, are included in their working hours (Article 67).

Children under 18 are not allowed to work underground, under water, and during nights (Article 69). Working children who are under 18, should undergo a medical examination before starting the job and every 6 months thereafter (Article 80)

The Apprenticeship and Occupational Training Law dated 5.6.1986, and no. 3308, accepts children who have completed obligatory elementary education (in 1988, this was raised to 8 years from 5) as apprentices and apprenticeship students. Excluding the special cases, we can say: it is not possible to begin apprenticeship at an age younger than 15, or older than 19 (in the special cases 13-14 years old children could be accepted as a apprentice). The apprenticeship study consists of one day per week of theoretical schooling and practical training by working in enterprises in the remaining days of the week. The annual vacation is as 30 days.

In 1992, Turkey has signed many projects related to the the elimination of children from working life (ILO/International Programme on Elimination of Child Labour) . We suppose that during your visit tour web site, you already saw that the Fisek Institute has studies related to these issues and has developed and applied a model which had been chosen as one of the “Best Practices Exhibition” in Habitat II (United Nation’s Conference on Human Settlements – 1996, Istanbul).

With the leadership of governmental organizations and employers’ & employee’s organizations , many public organizations, NGOs and university youth clubs organizations taking part in ILO/IPEC projects have adopted an attitude regarding the termination of child labour. But all are very well aware that a sound and permanent solution can only be reached by taking economical and social measures.