English language fluency duty for public authority workers
English language fluency duty for public authority workers

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • English language fluency duty for public authority workers
  • The fluency duty
  • Public authorities
  • Workers to whom the fluency duty applies
  • The standard of fluency required
  • Non-compliance with the fluency duty
  • Complaints

The fluency duty

With effect from 21 November 2016 there is a statutory requirement for workers in customer-facing roles in public authorities to be fluent in the English language (and/or Welsh in Wales). This measure was introduced because it was thought that sufficient fluency and comprehension in all interactions with the public would help ensure more efficient and effective public services.

The duty is for those workers to be able to speak English (and/or Welsh) fluently. In this context, fluently mean that they have a command of spoken English (and/or Welsh) which is sufficient to enable the effective performance of their role.

A draft statutory Code of Practice to assist employers in complying with the fluency duty was published in October 2016 and then an updated version was produced in November 2016. The new version of the Code came into effect on 22 December 2016 under the Code of Practice (English Language Requirements for Public Sector Workers) Regulations 2016. A Welsh translation is also available. The Code contains practical guidance on the standards and practices expected of public authorities when complying with their legal obligations. It sets out principles and examples for employers to consider. Relevant public authorities are obliged to have regard to the Code of Practice when assessing how to comply with their obligations.

The preamble to the Code of