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English Language Requirements for Public Sector Employees

The Cabinet Office and Home office has published a draft code of practice to assistance public sector employers on 21st July 2016. It prepares customer-facing workers to speak smooth English.

The draft code sets general principles to support employers meet the Immigration Act 2016 requirements. Under part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, employers have a responsibility to make sure that all public sector staff employed in customer-facing positions speaks fluent English (or English or welsh in Wales) to an applicable standard. All this is to reassure anybody who access public service will be responded to and not put at hazard from a language barrier.

Announcing the draft code, Ben Gummer, Cabinet Office minister said that the government expects the English language smoothness requirement will come into effect from October 2016. The early publication of the draft code is planned to help organisations to be ready to follow the lawful duty after it comes into force.

In certain cases, public facing staffs like medical professional and teachers must already meet English language requirement; it is not expected that the Act will command a higher standard.

According to the NHS Employer- an organization that acts on behalf of NHS Trusts has explained that the employers who have followed the employment check standard and language capability instruction at the time of employment of staff will not need to do anything new or special. Although they still suggest medical professional to review their existing HR policies and practices for preparation in the fluent language requirements which is coming into force.

Following action can be useful while reviewing policies and practices.

  • Examine HR guidelines and practices so they reveal the constitutional language requirement and also match with offered rule and language competency. 
  • Make sure that your present employment and selection procedures show the constitutional language requirements. Also, check whether the person involved in the selection procedure are clear about their duties to appraise language skill in relation to the role for which they are requesting.
  • In advertisements and job description, ensure that the required standard for English is clearly specified.
  • In agreement of work, request the standard of English which is necessary for the job.
  • While employed with the organization, understand the standard of English language essential in service level contracts.
  • In the consequence of grievances, have an applicable, noticeable grievances process considering a staff member language aptitude from a member of the public.

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