Public sector workers with low-level English skills may not have to lose their jobs with the introduction of the government’s new language policy this September, says Busy Bees Benefits.

The company, which specialises in employee benefit schemes, says that members of staff in customer-facing roles whose standard of English falls below the equivalent of GCSE grade C could be given more time to improve their skills can use an Earn and Learn scheme to help retain their jobs.

John Woodward, managing director at Busy Bees Benefits, said:

“Public sector employers should help their staff save money on the cost of GCSE English by using the Earn and Learn scheme. The real barrier for employees is the cost of the qualification. It’s all good and well offering time, but if employees simply can’t afford the cost of training, they may be left in a sticky situation.

“In the current climate of austerity, it is difficult for public sector organisations to fund their employees taking this qualification. Therefore, the Earn and Learn scheme will provide help for employees struggling to meet the cost.”

The new legislation’s minimum language skill requirement will affect police officers, social workers, teachers, teaching assistants, Jobcentre Plus workers and council employees as well as employees in the NHS and Armed Forces.

Among these employees will be those who have worked in the sector for years.

John Woodward continued:

“On the scheme, employees are able to exchange part of their salary for training, meaning tax and National Insurance savings can be made on the sacrificed amount. Basic rate tax payers can save up to 32% during a 12-month period and higher rate can save up to 42 percent.

“All costs relating to tuition, travel, accommodation and substance can all be paid for under the scheme – cutting the cost of this essential training considerably. Employers can save themselves an unnecessary HR disaster and make National Insurance savings at the same time.”

The new legislation is set to commence from September and is planned to be rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales. However, details on the plans for Scotland and Wales are yet to be confirmed.