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© South East Employers 2018

Fluency in the Public Sector Workforce

The Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 13 May 2016 becoming the Immigration Act 2016. The duty to require public sector workers in customer facing roles to be able to speak fluent English (or Welsh in Wales) came into force on Monday, 21st November 2016.

Cabinet Office would like to thank all those who engaged or responded to the consultation on the draft Code of Practice. All participants provided constructive input that will assist in producing a Code of Practice that is fit for purpose and helps to create the best possible public services for customers, organisations and public sector workers themselves.

Overall, local authorities expressed approval of the moderate approach to standard setting in the draft Code of Practice. They also confirmed that existing processes should be straightforward to align with the duty and that existing practices already assess communication skills, if not fluency specifically. We do not therefore expect any significant disruption to staff or business processes.

Variations and inconsistencies in standards were consistently raised during the consultation as potential risks, particularly the level of fluency required for similar customer-facing roles across boroughs and regions. The Cabinet Office is continuing to explore opportunities for setting common standards to achieve greater consistency, and welcomes the LGAs partnership in this.

The draft Statutory Code of Practice is now available. The final Code of Practice is expected to be published in October to support authorities to be ready to adhere to the statutory duty once it comes into force.

The full consultation response is available on