Many firms abuse tourism employment incentives

METIN CAN
ISTANBUL
Published 29.04.2016 00:17

As soon as financial support from the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) was legally put into effect to shore up a tourism sector flagging in the wake of a European recession and the downing of a Russian military aircraft in November, some companies have begun resorting to deceit to exploit those employment incentives, falsely reporting their employees as working in the tourism sector. The İŞKUR Job Shadowing Package, launched through a joint initiative of the Labor and Social Security Ministry and Culture and Tourism Ministry to protect tourism sector employment, is being exploited by company owners who are breaking the rules, costing the programs millions of dollars.

The incentive package, put into effect on April 12, provides employment support to those employed at hotels under the condition of the package being implemented for up to 10 percent of all employees. The incentive package was initially designed to target 45,000 people employed in tourism firms operating in Muğla and Antalya. The financial support, for which resources worth around TL 260 million ($92.3 million) have been allocated, is important in that it covers one-fifth of all employees in the sector. However, many firms, including some which are well-known, have been discovered to have taken advantage of the incentive, exceeding the 10 percent quota, by falsifying records.

Accordingly, some firms took advantage of loopholes in the incentive package, receiving higher quotas by shifting hundreds of their employees to different firms on paper. Moreover, some of the big groups implemented the same falsification method, using subsidiaries which were operating in other sectors. For example, some textile employees were registered as tourism employees in order to receive a higher quota. Thereby, the 10 percent support quota outlined for each individual was greatly exceeded, even reaching as much as 65 percent in some enterprises, abusing the incentive through these deceptive techniques. Therefore, the fund that was allocated for the incentive package - prepared to support 45,000 employees - was quickly depleted. Upon the realization of this widespread deception, an exhaustive investigation has been promised by the Social Security Institution (SSI/SGK) in Antalya.

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