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How to ensure non-English speaking employees have a fair hearing?

View profile for Sally Morris
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There may be occasions when a company needs to interview an employee whose first language is not English. This is especially the case when an employee has a good enough level of English to get by in their job, but are not in a customer facing role and therefore do not need to be fluent in English.

How a company approaches an interview, regardless of its purpose, could have a huge effect on the wellbeing of an employee and the reputation of the company, as an employee’s level of English may not be good enough to ensure their side of the story and opinions are clearly communicated.

Under the Equality Act 2010, a company must ensure its employees do not suffer a detriment, which could occur when an employee’s level of English is not good enough to understand the keys points. The ACAS Code of Practice advocates the presence of an interpreter to assist in such situations.

In such situations, it would be advisable to have an appropriate and independent professional interpreter, namely an individual who is fully trained, certified and experienced. Furthermore, it would be wise to ensure that any interpreter is fully independent, rather than a family member or work colleague, as sensitive or legal issues may be discussed and the information exchanged needs to be accurate and unbiased.

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