Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


English-only lawful if workplace reasons valid

English-only policy lawful if workplace reasons valid

Employers are being advised to take care how they introduce or enforce language policies in the workplace; asking people not to speak their own language or language of choice can affect their sense of identity and culture.

The Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says if the reasons for adopting an English-only policy in the workplace are valid, for example to make sure instructions regarding safety and productivity are understood, it is unlikely they will be held to be unlawful.

The Human Rights Act 1993 makes it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin in employment, accommodation, educational facilities, access to public places and vehicles, and the provision of goods and services.

"When people cannot understand what is being said around them they can become distrustful and suspicious, and employers often want to avoid circumstances that could lead to this," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"They may want to include in their employment agreements that staff are required to speak English only in the workplace including in the lunch room or cafeteria.

"Employees are protected by the Humans Rights legislation when a requirement, or condition imposed on everybody in a workplace, has the effect of treating a person or group of persons unfavourably because of their race, or national or ethnic origin

"If English must be spoken by all employees, those whose first language or language of choice is not English could be disadvantaged.

"Where there is a valid reason, such as the need for everyone in a workplace to give and understand instructions in the interests of safety or productivity, it is unlikely that requiring the use of a common language in the workplace would be unlawful.

"If there is no specified reason for the requirement, for example during lunch breaks from the workplace or in conversation of a social nature, non-English speakers could claim they have been disadvantaged.

"Workplace circumstances and the response required will vary from firm to firm, but the issue in general will demand sensitive and respectful responses by managers."

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Half A Billion Accounts: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>

Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>


Half Full: Fonterra Raises Forecast Payout As Global Supply Shrinks

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the dairy processor which will announce annual earnings tomorrow, hiked its forecast payout to farmers by 50 cents per kilogram of milk solids as global supply continues to decline, helping prop up dairy prices. More>>



Meat Trade: Silver Fern Farms Gets Green Light For Shanghai Maling Deal

The government has given the green light for China's Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire half of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's biggest meat company, with ministers satisfied it will deliver "substantial and identifiable benefit". More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news