EU rules allow job discrimination for foreign workers based on languages

Published Apr 12, 2016

jane_collins_MEP.jpgThe European Commission has confirmed a legal loophole which allows employers and recruiters to demand workers for UK vacancies speak Eastern European languages as a way to avoid hiring workers from the UK.

The response came in a reply to UKIP employment spokeswoman Jane Collins MEP who has raised concerns about British workers being barred from jobs in the UK by agencies wanting Polish or Romanian speaking candidates.

These include vacancies for a painter and decorator in the South East which required Polish fluency, an estate agent in the north of England where Romanian was 'needed' and care workers in the South West where the vacancy was advertised in Polish only.

"With open door migration from the EU we have seen a surge in the number of vacancies for jobs in the UK demanding that people speak an Eastern European language, even on the government's own job website," said Ms Collins.

"It's illegal to specify for a worker from a particular country or countries under EU rules, but as the European Commission has confirmed, it is not illegal to ask for languages which typically only people from Eastern Europe will be able to speak because they are not taught as standard in British schools.

"This means that British workers are being discriminated against for jobs in their own country, often because they don't want to work for a minimum wage in shared accommodation but have a decent family life.

"At the same time, the UK Treasury loses out because they have to top up low wages with tax credits and benefits, including child benefit which can be sent to children not even living in the UK, something David Cameron failed to tackle in his 'renegotiations' with the EU.

"Since the minimum wage is so much higher here than in other EU countries and the living wage is set to make the gap even wider, there is clearly a draw for workers from Eastern Europe or countries who are suffering because of their membership of the Euro to come here and make salaries a race to the bottom.

"And this rule is a double-edged sword because it also stops jobs being open only to people who are fluent in English or have English as their first language which is undeniably important in jobs where absolute understanding is required such as doctors, nurses and teachers.

"In short, it's the worst of both worlds."

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