A national newspaper has reported that employees at a particular business have been told to speak English at work, or else face disciplinary action. Common sense or good old Xenophobia?
The position is not that that straightforward. Language defines a person’s ethnic origins or nationality, which also determines their race. Therefore a requirement to speak English at work could amount to indirect race discrimination, contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Some jobs simply do not require good spoken English. Other jobs may. In the latter situation, an employer may be right to insist on a high level of spoken English or that only English is spoken, but this would need to be objectively justified.
Sarah Rushton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tel: 0207 539 4147
This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information.