Fluent English to be Legal Requirement for Customer-Facing Public Sector Employees

Currently, the law permits some health regulators to ask for evidence of competency in the English language from job applicants who have trained in the EU.

However, from September 2015, legislation will be introduced to make fluent English a legal requirement for all public sector employees who work in a customer facing role. This will include social workers, police officers, teaching staff and assistants, Jobcentre Plus workers and local government employees. Employees caught by the legislation will need to be able to communicate effectively in English at an equivalent of a ‘C’ or above at GCSE. A higher level of competence may be required depending on the nature of the role and the profession of the employee.

The legislation, together with a new code of practice, will be produced following a consultation and will apply to both new and existing public sector employees.

Trade Union Bill: BIS Publishes Human Rights Memorandum

In one of our previous updates, we discussed the Trade Union Bill, which is intended to reform various aspects of the law on industrial action and trade union obligations and activities. Proposed reforms include increasing ballot thresholds, extending the notice of industrial action required to be given to employers and a new expiry date for action to be taken following a ballot. The Bill also proposes more stringent requirements for unions to supervise picketing.

On 30 July 2015, BIS published the European Convention on Human Rights Memorandum. This sets out the basis on which the government considers the proposed reforms are compatible with Convention rights. More information can be found on www.gov.uk.