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From September 2015, all new and existing public sector staff in customer-facing roles must be able to speak GCSE-level English. The plans to introduce a requirement to speak fluent English form part of the new Immigration Bill.
While legislation on the language abilities of foreign nationals working in the UK already exists, the new provisions represent a coordinated approach to enforcing fluent English across the public sector.
Under the new legislation, public sector organisations will be required to ensure staff have language skills equivalent to GCSE grade C or above. This requirement could increase depending on the nature of the job and profession.
A new code of practice will be introduced to support the legislation following consultation. The NHS, police force and state-funded schools are among the public sector organisations who will be subject to the new code and responsible for ensuring that their employees are able to communicate effectively with customers.