Manufacturing | Requiring employees to speak English

Manufacturing | Requiring employees to speak English

Manufacturing businesses are often made of a diverse workforce with workers of many different nationalities and backgrounds.

In this cases, employers may wish to impose a requirement that all employees in the workplace must communicate in English to ensure business efficacy and reduce misunderstandings.

You may also want to do this to promote good working relationships. Some employees may feel left out because they don’t understand what their managers or colleagues are saying or even think they are talking or gossiping about them. This can negatively affect staff morale and team dynamics.

But can employers restrict employees from speaking their native language in the workplace?

You can specify that English is the language of operation, but you do need to take care if you ban the use of other languages. Taking such an approach could be interpreted as indirectly discriminating those as those whose mother tongue is not English.    

An employee is indirectly discriminated against when a company’s policies, procedures or rules which apply to everyone has the effect that people with a certain protected characteristic are put at a disadvantage when compared with those who do not share it. You may be able to justify this if there is a real business need and it is a proportionate means of achieving this legitimate aim.

Realistically, it would be hard to justify this type of restriction if you try to prohibit the use of other languages during breaks or outside working time, for example, at after work events.

Equally, if an employee is really struggling to understand an instruction or needs to ask questions to complete a task, a quick conversation with their colleague in their native language can help clear up the confusion and ensure that they can get on with their work. If you use this to take action against them, for example, commence disciplinary action, it is likely that this will not be considered a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate business aim. 

How can employers support employees whose first language is not English?

There are a number of steps manufacturing businesses can take including:

  • Consider translating key policies and procedures in the Employee Handbook
  • Provide multi-language signs in the workplace
  • Think about providing free English classes

Exclusive Bonus:The Employer’s Definitive Guide Staff Handbooks and HR policies | Discover everything you need to include in your handbook and what policies you need to provideDownload Now

You can discuss different options are suitable for your specific workplace with your EW Employment Law Adviser.

Final thoughts

If you do have any ‘policy’ in this respect, it is important that it clearly communicated to all staff so they understand the rules.  If you would have any questions on this area of law, contact your EW Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

Whether you’re facing an immediate challenge or just want the reassurance of an expert second opinion, we’re here to offer clear, commercial advice so that you can focus on what you do best.

Our live Client satisfaction rating is currently:

Last Updated:

Let's start talking on 0345 226 8393 or complete the form below.

More From EW

All News Stories
Hannah Kennedy

7 workplace safety tips for 2021

BLOG January 2020 began with a sense of optimism. Unfortunately, coronavirus soon cast a shadow over the new decade’s start.  Firms were forced to adapt

Read More »

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Find what you were looking for?

Our FREE resources library contains over 200 searchable blogs, guides and templates focused around Employment Law and Health & Safety issues that employers face on a day-to-day basis.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Hi, how can we help?
Click the button below to chat to an expert.

Is Your Business Based in Scotland?

Go straight to our free sector-specific Risk Assessment Templates for Scottish organisations…
 
Click to explore what’s available.