This post is part of the series of blogs investigating how the non-realization (or limited realization) of distributive justice claims experienced by the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the society are dealt with in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

In the Turkish labour market people with disabilities constitute a vulnerable group. Nevertheless, in the last decade Turkey made a significant progress to include a disability rights perspective in its domestic law. In the mid-2000s, Turkey introduced a framework law on disability rights and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of disabilities at the constitutional level. In 2007, the Human rights approach to disability in the Turkish law was strengthened as Turkey signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was ratified in 2009.

Parallel to these legislative advances, Turkey mainly strengthened its policy measures in order to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities by strictly implementing a minimum employment requirement – first introduced in the 1970s – which applies to all workplaces with more than 50 employees. According to the Turkish Labour Law, all employers in the private sector with more than 50 employees must ensure that 3% of their employees are persons with disabilities. In the public sector, employers with more than 50 employees must guarantee ratio of 4%.

While the stricter enforcement of the minimum employment requirement increased the employment rate of people with disabilities, our findings still demonstrate that the exclusive reliance on this measure hardly produces the desired outcome. Five reasons account for the limited success of this policy: its limited applicability in an economy dominated by small and medium-sized firms, the prevalent negative perceptions of employees with disabilities, the lack of public sector guidance for companies hiring people with disabilities, the ongoing problem of a low educational attainment among people with disabilities and the continued failure of the public sector to enforce accessibility requirements in cities and workplaces. Unless they are successfully addressed, these five reasons undermine the potential success of the minimum employment requirement.

Our findings suggest that dimensions such as the gender and the type of disability have an impact on the level of vulnerability in the labour market. Women with disabilities and people with intellectual disabilities and psychiatric illnesses for example are in a more disadvantaged position. It could be helpful to adopt an intersectional framework in order to tackle their overlapping forms of discrimination.

While it is nowadays a widely accepted policy in Turkey to integrate people with disabilities into the open labour market, our findings show that segregation is still a problem, especially for people with intellectual disabilities or people suffering from psychiatric conditions. Disability rights advocates also expressed their concerns about the introduction of public incentives for sheltered workplaces, highlighting their potential to segregate people in the labour market.

A long-term strategy and a comprehensive set of policy measures is necessary in order to achieve full equality for people with disabilities in the Turkish labour market. However, this strategy also needs to ensure the accessibility of urban landscapes, transportation as well as workplaces. Further, it has to tackle discrimination and encourage the full integration of children with disabilities into the educational system. It is now time to show the will to move forward on a political scale.

By Volkan Yilmaz
written for the ETHOS Project as Working Paper within D6.2
The cross country analysis is available at: