Is It Legally Possible for a Staff to Claim Severance Pay by Subsequently Transforming His Resignation into a Justifiable Reason?
In principle, a staff, who has, of his own accord, terminated his employment relationship with the workplace without indicating a justifiable reason, in other words, a staff who has resigned shall not become entitled to severance pay. In such case, if the staff has not, prior to the resignation, notified the employer of the termination in writing and by complying with the notice period pursuant to the article 17 of the Labor Code numbered 4857, the staff shall not receive severance pay and shall be obliged to pay to the employer a notice pay.
Justifiable reasons for termination of an employment contract
However, in case the staff terminates his employment relationship with the workplace by indicating a justifiable reason, the staff shall become entitled to severance pay even if he has quitted the work of his own accord. In this event, the matter “which cases will be considered as a justifiable reason for the staff” is of importance. The article 24 of the Labor Code lists the circumstances for termination of the employment contract for justifiable reason by the staff. In case of existence of one of these circumstances listed in three groups as health reasons, behaviors contradicting to the ethics and good faith and compulsory reasons, it is possible for the staff to terminate the employment contract for justifiable reason.
However, in the absence of the circumstances listed by the article 24 of the Labor Code, there are specific reasons e.g. “the staff is retired”, “the staff joins the army to perform military service” or “the female staff gets married”, in order for the staff to become entitled to severance pay. Our newsletter will discuss whether or not a staff may claim severance pay by subsequently transforming into a justifiable reason his resignation he has submitted without indicating a ground or based on specific reasons.
Termination of employment contract without free will
In practice, it is very frequently observed that an employer obtains the letter of resignation from his staff under pressure or that the staff submits his letter of resignation with his free will and subsequently asserts that he in fact has declared his will of resignation under pressure.
In its decisions that gained stability, the Supreme Court of Appeals established the following verdict: “In the case a person, who has acquired certain rights due to his period of service at the workplace, revokes these rights by resignation; this behavior exhibited by the person is not deemed to be a normal behavior in the ordinary course of life”. Thus, the Supreme Court of Appeals does not accept as a normal behavior the case where the staff carries out the termination transaction in such a way to revoke these rights while he has no reason that might be considered as valid, in case he holds a certain seniority period; and thereby, the Supreme Court of Appeals acts with suspicion towards the case. Hence, a staff, who has submitted to the employer his will of resignation in writing, may claim against the employer the rights arising from termination under the allegation that the employment contract has been terminated unjustly and/or without a valid reason by asserting that he in fact does not have a will of resignation, after completion of the employment termination procedures.
Consequences of letter of resignation
In the light of the judicial practices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, it is possible to say that the matter “whether or not a letter of resignation has been obtained under pressure, by force” should be assessed differently in each concrete case. This is because; the Supreme Court of Appeals does not always take into consideration a staff’s assertion that he has submitted his letter of resignation under pressure, by force, and the Supreme Court of Appeals also renders decisions stating that the staff should bear the consequences of the letter of resignation he has submitted. For instance, in one of its decisions, the Supreme Court established the following verdict: “…the plaintiff has not stated a reason which would justify his resignation in this letter and has not submitted an assertion of defective will against the letter, and accordingly the plaintiff has terminated the employment contract of his own accord without resting on a justifiable reason, and the aim of the assertions put forward in the lawsuit petition is to make the abstract resignation justified…” and thus, the Supreme Court of Appeals finds the staff’s assertions abstract and adopts that the will of resignation is true and real (The 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the decision numbered 2017/6515 E. – 2018/8907 K.). In such case, the staff, who has terminated the employment contract by his unilateral declaration of will, may not claim against the employer the pays subject to the termination.
However, in case the judicial decisions establish that the will of resignation does not reflect the reality and that the will of resignation has been set forth by the staff under pressure, it will become legally possible for the staff to claim against the employer the pays subject to the termination.