Validity Conditions of Release Letters Signed by Workers

April 18, 2024by Bünyamin Esen0

In general, a “release letter” refers to “exculpatory document” or “exoneration document” that proves that a debt has been eliminated and the debted is being acquitted.

In the sense of the Turkish Labour Law, the release letter (or the letter of discharge/ acquittal) indicates that the employee has received all kinds of receivables from the employer, such as severance pay, notice pay, overtime pay, general holiday pay, annual leave pay, especially wages, and that he/she has left no other receivables from the employer (in short, it shows that the employer has been acquitted). Release Letters should be signed documents.

When is the Release Letters to be issued?

As stated in the Article 420 of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098, as of the date of discharge, at least one month must have passed, starting from the date of termination of the contract.

Although the discharge letter issued as of the day the employee left the job (on the same day) is formally appropriate, it is not legally valid.


Form and Validity Conditions of the Release Letters from Employees

According to the Article 420 of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098, the following rules apply regarding the release letters:

  • The release letter regarding the employee’s receivables from the employer must be in writing. Verbal acquittals are invalid.
  • As of the date of release, at least one month must have passed since the termination of the contract. Release letters signed before this period are invalid. Although early issuance of the release has been invalidated, no upper limit has been set for the possibility of issuing a release at any time after a period of at least one month.
  • Clearly stating the type and amount of the receivable subject to discharge, for example, salary receivable, severance pay, notice pay, overtime, annual leave, etc. All legal rights must be stated separately and in amount. One of the application conditions is to clearly show that there is no remaining ‘zero’ receivable in addition to the paid parts. Releases issued with general phrases such as “I received all my rights” are invalid.
  • The payment must be made in full according to the entitlement amount and through the bank. If it is incomplete or not made through the bank, the acquittal given by the worker will not be valid even if it meets all other conditions.

Release letters or release agreements that do not contain above mentioned elements are legally void.

Release letters that do not contain the payment of the actual amount of the right or other payment documents that contain a release statement are deemed to be receipts limited to the amount they contain. Even in this case, payments must be made through the bank. These provisions also apply to all compensation receivables arising from the service contract, including those that are deprived of support and other relatives of the worker. The employee has the right to claim his/her receivables unless the employer can prove it with an official document such as a receipt.

The release letters stating general statements such as “I have received all my receivables” and “I waive my right to sue.” are not valid. The scope and amount of the discharged debt is to be clearly stated. Even if the release meets all the necessary conditions, the declaration that “I waive the right to sue” is invalid and the creditor can always file a lawsuit according to the general rules.

Bünyamin Esen

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