What languages should be spoken at work

With the diversity of workforces in the UK today, there will inevitably be many workers of different nationalities and with different languages and cultures.  This will mean that employers may need to deal with issues regarding what language is used in the workplace, particularly if many workers do not have English as their first language.

One of the most important aspects of any ‘language policy’ that an employer adopts is not to discriminate against any workers under the Equality Act 2010 (compensation for discrimination claims at an Employment Tribunal are ‘uncapped’ so have no limit). This includes race discrimination, defined as colour, nationality, ethnic and national origins.

‘Less favourable’ treatment because of race would be unlawful direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination is harder to recognise – it needs a ‘provision, criteria or practice’ in place in the workplace, which applies to all, but which puts people in a certain racial group at a particular disadvantage.

If an employer required all its employees to have excellent English language skills, they would need to justify their need for this, otherwise it may be indirect discrimination (only indirect, not direct, discrimination is possible to be justified).
We look at what you should and should not do in our article here.

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