The employer’s obligations to open a breastfeeding room in Turkey or a childcare dormitory are determined by the Regulation on the Conditions of Employment of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women, Breastfeeding Rooms and Childcare Dormitories, which was enacted based on Article 30/a of the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331 and entered into force after being published in the Official Gazette dated 16.08.2013 and numbered 28737.
According to Article 4 of the Regulation, a breastfeeding room in Turkey is a room set aside for employees to breastfeed their children under one year of age and a dormitory/child care dormitory/nursery: According to the provisions of the Ministry of National Education Regulation on Preschool Education and Primary Education Institutions published in the Official Gazette dated 26.07.2014 and numbered 29072, it refers to the places where the care and education of children who have not reached the age of enrollment in primary education are carried out.
According to Article 13 of the Regulation, the employer has two obligations. According to this
– In workplaces with 100-150 female employees, regardless of their age and marital status, the employer is obliged to provide a breastfeeding room in Turkey for breastfeeding employees to breastfeed their children, separate from the workplace and at most 250 metres away from the workplace, meeting the conditions specified in Annex IVB of the Regulation.
– In workplaces with more than 150 female employees, regardless of their age and marital status, it is obligatory for the employer to establish a dormitory separate from the workplace and close to the workplace and meeting the conditions specified in Annex IV of the regulation for the leaving and care of children aged 0-6 years and for breastfeeding employees to breastfeed their children, and if the dormitory is more than 250 metres away from the workplace, the employer is also expected to provide a vehicle.
Additionally, the regulation also gives the employer the right of choice. Although the obligations of the employer to open a breastfeeding room in Turkey and dormitory/nursery have been defined above, the second paragraph of the article stipulates that employers may jointly establish the room and dormitory or fulfil the obligation to open a room and dormitory through agreements with dormitories authorized by public institutions. Thus, it has become possible for the employer to open a breastfeeding room or dormitory depending on the number of female employees in the workplace, or for multiple employers to open these facilities jointly or to make an agreement with an institution authorized by public institutions. In the case of jointly establishing a room or dormitory, employers or their representatives shall meet at least once a month to take decisions on the management of these facilities and ensure their implementation (Article 22).
In the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the Article, certain criteria are stipulated in line with the determination of the number of employees. Accordingly, in determining the obligation to open rooms and dormitories
– The total number of female employees in all workplaces of the employer within the boundaries of the municipality and its neighboring areas will be taken into consideration,
– In the calculation of the number of female employees required for the establishment of a breastfeeding room home and/or dormitory in Turkey, among male employees, those whose child’s mother has died or whose custody has been given to the father will also be included.
Article 14 of the Regulation defines the beneficiaries of the rooms and dormitories in terms of parents and children. According to the regulation, the parents who will benefit from the rooms and dormitories are female employees and male employees whose mother has died or whose custody of the child has been given to the father.
In terms of children, a relationship is established with their age. Accordingly, children who can benefit from the breastfeeding room in Turkey are children between the ages of 0-1. Children who have not reached the age of enrolment in primary education can be admitted to dormitories.
The second paragraph of the article prohibits the presence of anyone other than children and staff in the rooms and dormitories and the use of these rooms and dormitories for other purposes. It is stipulated that children aged 0-24 months, 25-48 months and 49 months and above must be kept separate from each other.
According to the last paragraph, it is essential that children are left in the rooms and dormitories before starting work and picked up at the end of the work. Additionally, it is also possible for parents to see their children and take care of them during breaks, provided that they comply with the rules on the discipline and management of the rooms and dormitories.
Considering Article 15 of the Regulation, in order to benefit from rooms and dormitories, registration is required first. These registrations will be made through the registration and admission book specified in Annex V of the regulation. For children who leave the rooms and dormitories completely, the reason for leaving, the date, with whom they leave, will be recorded on the observation sheet and in the registration and acceptance book. In this case, the child’s private file will be given to the mother or father.
Article 16 of the Regulation specifies the medicines and medical equipment to be kept in rooms and dormitories and the conditions for their storage. Accordingly, thermometers should be placed in the necessary places in the rooms and dormitories to measure the body temperature of the children, the medicines and medical equipment written in the chart in Annex VI of the regulation and also deemed necessary by the physician in charge at the workplace should be kept in a special cabinet and in a way that can be easily used, and these tools and equipment should be regularly reviewed by the physician in charge at the workplace and those that are spoilt or unusable should be discarded and replaced with new ones.
Article 17 of the Regulation specifies the qualifications and number of persons to work in these facilities. According to the article, it is obligatory to employ managers, health personnel and other personnel in rooms and dormitories.
The person who will be the manager must have a higher education in one of the fields of education management, social services, child development and education, pre-school education, psychology, child health or child development and kindergarten and must have the title of pre-school teacher. The manager shall be primarily responsible for all administrative matters related to the functioning of the rooms and dormitories in accordance with the purpose of the rooms and dormitories and for ensuring that the children in the rooms and dormitories live, develop and educate in an environment in accordance with the health rules.
In the aforementioned article, health personnel are defined as occupational physicians and nurses. Accordingly, rooms and dormitories shall be under the medical supervision of the workplace physician. The health status of children will be checked at regular intervals and necessary actions will be taken. The occupational physician and nurse will be responsible for conducting periodic health checks on children, keeping health records, taking or having taken the necessary measures against epidemics and infectious diseases, and carrying out the necessary inspections in terms of health and cleanliness.
Other staff will consist of child carers and auxiliary staff. The childminder must be a woman. One childminder will be employed for every ten children, and at least one of them must be a graduate of the Department of Child Development and Education of Girls’ Vocational High School or similar professions. For every 20 children above, there will be one childminder and a graduate of the Department of Child Development and Education of Girls’ Vocational High School or a member of a similar profession.
Auxiliary personnel are the personnel to be employed in sufficient number for nutrition, cleaning and other services according to the total number of children and groups in the rooms and dormitories. It is deemed necessary and sufficient for these personnel to have at least a primary school diploma or literacy certificate and to be healthy.
In addition to the above-mentioned personnel, it is also possible to employ social workers, nutritionists, psychologists, graduates of the Department of Child Development and Education at Girls’ Vocational High Schools, and personnel specialised in music, fine arts and sports, if deemed necessary by the employer.
In order to protect the children in the rooms and dormitories, all personnel to be employed here will be checked for mental and physical health and infectious diseases at the time of recruitment and periodically, and personnel with infectious diseases and those who may adversely affect the health and development of children will not be employed.
Children will be served in rooms and dormitories. In this sense, according to the provisions of the regulation, examination, nutrition, education and development services must be provided for children.
The principles of examination of children are included in Article 18 of the regulation. In accordance with the provisions of the article, the following procedures must be carried out.
Children to be admitted to rooms and dormitories shall first be examined by the occupational physician. A report will be issued for children who do not have a contagious or dangerous disease and the reports will be kept in the children’s files. Those who have a contagious or dangerous disease or who are suspected of having a disease will not be admitted to rooms and dormitories until they are determined to be healthy.
Children in rooms and dormitories who are infected or suspected of infectious diseases will be examined by the workplace physician. Children who are found to be ill as a result of the examination will be sent to a health institution by the workplace physician and their parents will be informed.
For each child admitted to the room and dormitory, the observation sheet in Annex VII of the regulation will be filled in and placed in his/her private file. During their stay, the health and general development, physical structure and mental characteristics of the children will be recorded at regular intervals by the workplace physician on the health examination papers in Annex VIII of the regulation.
Vaccinations of children staying in rooms and dormitories will be monitored by the workplace physician. Parents will be informed to take the child to the family physician where the child is registered in case of missing or missed vaccinations.
Nutrition principles are listed in Article 19 of the regulation. Accordingly, in rooms and dormitories, necessary foods, breakfasts and meals should be provided according to the needs of children. The opinions of the workplace physician will be taken in the organisation of meal lists and complementary nutrition. Additionally, children will be provided with 250 grams of milk or yoghurt per day, which is either strong or pasteurised, or boiled if not available.
Article 20, which is related to the education and development of children, stipulates that pre-school education shall be provided to children to ensure their psychosocial development.
With Articles 21 and 23 of the Regulation, in addition to the obligation to open rooms and dormitories, a number of additional obligations have been introduced. These obligations are related to the cost of rooms and dormitories, inspection and elimination of deficiencies and notification of rooms and dormitories.
According to Article 21 of the Regulation, all of the expenses of rooms and dormitories such as building, establishment, furnishing, tools, equipment, vehicles, nutrition, etc. shall be covered by employers. Rooms and dormitories will be inspected at least once a month by the employer or his/her representative. Any deficiencies observed must be corrected immediately.
The obligation to notify the rooms and dormitories is regulated in Article 23. Accordingly, employers are required to send the information and documents related to the rooms and dormitories opened in their workplaces within the scope of the occupational health and safety law numbered 6331 to the Ministry of National Education and the Provincial Directorate of Labour and Employment Agency within 30 days at the latest from the date of opening. In this report, the title of the workplace, the registration number and address of the Provincial Directorate of Labour and Employment Agency, the total number of employees employed in the workplace and the number of female employees, the number and gender of children admitted to the institution and the open address of the institution, the number of rooms, playgrounds, the size of the garden, the amount and types of maintenance and educational tools will be specified. According to the Provisional Article 1 of the Regulation, the notifications made in accordance with this article in accordance with the Law No. 4857 before the effective date of the regulation will be deemed valid, and the rooms and dormitories opened according to the Provisional Article 2 and not yet notified must be notified until 1.12.2013.