Can I tell my staff to only speak English at work?

February 29, 2016

A recent Employment Tribunal case recently considered this point.   The case involved a Russian who would frequently speak Russian on the phone at work.  She worked in an animal testing laboratory and managers were concerned that she was an animal rights infiltrator and potential security issues.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that, due to the legitimacy of the Employer’s concerns, it was appropriate (and not discriminatory) to require their employees to only speak English at work.

The general principle that organisations need to consider is the context of their particular working environment.  If there are security, health and safety, or patient safety issues (and this isn’t exhaustive) then the employer has a legitimate reason to ask their staff to speak English at work.

If you have any queries about discrimination or working in diverse workplaces, please contact us.