What should employers do to meet the requirement for a complaints procedure relating to English language fluency for public-sector workers?
Under part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, public authorities are required to ensure that each person who works for them in a customer-facing role speaks fluent English (or Welsh, in Wales). The Act requires authorities to have a procedure in place to allow members of the public to make a complaint if they think that the authority is not complying with the duty.
Public-sector employers must establish and publicise a complaints procedure, and provide training to managers responsible for dealing with complaints. The procedure should distinguish between complaints that are legitimate and those that are not. The Code of practice on the English language requirements for public-sector workers, to which public authorities must have regard when implementing the requirement, states that complaints about an employee's accent, dialect, manner or tone of communication, origin or nationality will not be considered legitimate. Further it confirms that authorities are not obliged, under the fluency duty, to respond to complaints that are vexatious, oppressive, threatening or abusive.
The code sets out further recommendations for the implementation of a complaints procedure and steps for employers to take if a complaint is upheld.