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Fluent English to be a legal requirement for customer-facing public sector employees

New legislation requiring every public sector worker employed in a public-facing role to speak fluent English will be introduced in September. Currently the law permits some health regulators to ask for evidence of English language competence from job applicants who have trained in the EU. However, from September 2015, legislation will be introduced (as part of the Immigration Bill) to make fluent English a legal requirement for all public sector employees who work in a customer-facing role. Organisations to be covered will include the NHS, social workers, armed forces and state funded schools. A new code of practice will also be introduced (following a consultation later this year). The new law will apply to existing and new employees who are working in public facing roles.

What exactly will be required? Well, all public sector organisations must ensure that all staff can communicate effectively with the public, to what is expected to be at least ‘level 2’ (equivalent to a C or above at GCSE). The requirement would be more onerous depending on the nature of the role and profession. Remember, some roles already have a much higher standard for English speaking (for example, doctors).


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.