New legislation requiring all public sector employees who work with the public to speak fluent English will be introduced in September, cabinet office minister Matt Hancock announced today.
Public sector organisations will be responsible for ensuring their staff can communicate effectively with the public with “level 2” English, which is the equivalent to a C or above at GSCE.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock said:
“We are controlling immigration for the benefit of all hard-working people. That includes making sure that foreign nationals employed in customer-facing public sector roles are able to speak a high standard of English.
“We have already introduced tough new language requirements for migrants, now we will introduce new legislation in the forthcoming Immigration Bill to deliver the commitment made by the Prime Minister to go further.”
This requirement would increase depending on the nature of the role and profession. Doctors, for example, are already required to have a much higher level of English.
Organisations including the NHS, armed forces and state-funded schools will all be bound by a new code of practice which will be produced following a consultation in the autumn. The legislation and code of practice will apply to both existing and new employees working in public-facing roles.
The government has already legislated to allow some health regulators to ask for evidence of English language competence from applicants trained in the EU who apply for registration with them, to work as healthcare professionals in the UK.
Primary legislation will be passed to extend this kind of language control to every public sector worker in a customer facing role. This will include police officers, social workers, teaching staff and assistants, Jobcentre Plus workers and local government employees.
This will be the first time there has been a co-ordinated approach to enforcing fluent English across the public sector and will create a consistent experience for taxpayers, while promoting integration and British values in the United Kingdom.