Employers in Latvia will not be allowed to demand foreign language skills from employees for no reason

Employers in Latvia will not have the right to request foreign language skills from employees if their duties do not include the use of foreign languages. This is provided by amendments to the Labour Law approved by the Saeima in the third and final reading on Thursday, 1 November.

If employees’ duties do not include the use of foreign languages, employers will not have the right to deny them the right to use state language, as provided by the new redaction of the Labour Law.

Now the law states: if in the case of a dispute, an employee indicates conditions, which could be a basis for their direct or indirect discrimination language-wise, it is the employers duty to prove that there are objective reasons for differential treatment that are not associated with the employee’s language skills, or that knowledge of a specific language is a pre-requisite for specific duties.

As noted in the annotation to amendments, more and more often the situation when potential employees are requested to have specific language skills for no reason is observed on Latvia’s labour market. This most often applies to Russian language. This applies even to situations when the company has no dealings with foreign clients.

The put an end to linguistic discrimination, employers will no longer be allowed to request knowledge of specific foreign languages if use of said languages is not required for duties of specific employees, authors of amendments say.

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