They are a set of 170 instructions detailing how we are supposed to treat the Welsh language when providing services. The Language Standards have been passed by the Welsh Government and have been placed on the County Council by the Welsh Language Commissioner. From March 31, 2016 we are required to comply with the new standards, and they will replace the old Welsh Language Scheme.
No. Not at all. Where the Scheme required us to treat Welsh and English equally, the Standards require us to 'treat the Welsh language no less favorably than the English language', and to 'promote and facilitate the use Welsh in the county '. But the Standards are more specific and are more prescriptive than the general commitments in the Language Scheme. There are some new elements, but overall the requirements are similar.
The Council could be fined if we do not comply. A fine is the Commissioner’s final step in trying to ensure that Welsh speakers’ consumer rights are protected. Following an investigation, the Commissioner will allow the Council to remedy the situation and ensure compliance in the future. If this does not happen, the Commissioner will be able to enforce compliance and then if there is still no compliance, a civil penalty of a £5,000 fine is applied.
No Council will be able to do this as this would mean being in contempt of court. Knowingly breaking the law without attempting to rectify the offence means that they would be in contempt of court.
There are 78,048 Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire but historically, no language choice has been offered in the public sector, so people do not expect services in Welsh. We have a duty to encourage the use of our Welsh language services. This premise forms an important part of the Welsh public sector’s efforts to contribute towards the survival of the Welsh language as a unique, minority but living language.
One of the Standards requires us to gather data on our staff’s language skills. We will have to report to the Commissioner on this data annually. Gathering the data will be a challenge considering the cross-section of staff in separate locations across the County, but it will enable us to offer you opportunities to develop your language skills if you wish. There will be no pressure on staff to do so.
No, it is not. Here is a description of level 3 on the new language skills framework:
- Able to understand and participate in most normal day-to-day conversations in the office.
- Able to offer advice to the general public on issues relating to the post. Referring to specialised or technical terms in English.
- Able to contribute to a meeting or a presentation on general issues relating to the post; referring to specialised or technical terms in English.
The requirements of both A level and GCSE Welsh are considerably higher than level 3 on the ALTE framework.
Yes. Your line manager will arrange this with you taking into account the department’s plans for service delivery.
The Standards say that you have to provide minutes in Welsh if the meeting is open to the public. But also, if it is you who is coordinating a partnership, you should ask, when inviting partners to the first meeting, whether they would like to speak Welsh in the meeting. If more than 10% said they would, you need to provide the means to do so. In such a case, the minutes would also need to be available in Welsh.
It is good practise to publish both languages on the same leaflet. If this is not possible, either because of the length of the documents or due to any other practical obstacle, they can be published separately but it must be clearly stated on the English version that a Welsh version is available.
You will also need to ensure that they are being distributed together so that the ‘Welsh language is not treated less favourably’ than the English language.
Yes. Organisations that are providing services on our behalf must comply with our set of Welsh language Standards to the extent that they are relevant to the service that they are providing. So, you will need to make sure that this arrangement is in place from the very beginning of the planning process, in the tendering or agreement documents.
The first letter to a member of the public must be bilingual. Every circular needs to be bilingual too. The only time it is acceptable to correspond in English only is if you are absolutely sure that the member of the public does not want to receive the Welsh version. You will need to ensure that you have a watertight system in place to gather and maintain this information. Otherwise, send all correspondence bilingually.
Give consideration to the Welsh language from the beginning of the planning process rather than at the last moment before publication. You can assist the Translation Unit by informing them in advance, before the document is available, that it is on the way, stating your deadline so that the Translation Unit can schedule your documents into their program of work.
Provide an explanation of acronyms, or a Welsh version of acronyms for the Unit when you present them with the work. Very often, you are the one familiar with your field of work and the more information you provide, the less they will have to investigate, if there are Welsh names available for organisations, conferences or projects that appear in the document, include a list for the Translation Unit so that they do not have to invent new titles.
If you are able to speak Welsh, draft the document in Welsh and then translate it into English. You’ll find that you can write a Welsh version much easier than trying to translate it from English. Providing a Welsh version to the Translation Unit means they can proofread rather than translate your work, and this saves time.
Check your English work to ensure that everything is clear before submitting it, so that the Translation Unit will not need to contact you to verify things.
Yes. Since 1997, The Council’s Welsh language Scheme and now the Standards give our residents a language choice as we are a bilingual county. This means that our customers need to hear Welsh in their first contact with the Council.
You will need to greet the user bilingually and if the user would like to speak in Welsh, you will need to transfer the call to a co-worker who can speak Welsh and who can deal with the enquiry. If there is no one available, you will have to note the caller’s details and arrange for a Welsh speaking officer to call them back. This guidance will assist you with using Welsh on the phone.
Every job will be advertised with either level 1 or more on the new Welsh Language Skills Strategy as a requirement, according to the requirements of the specific job. Level 1 on the new framework corresponds to basic language courtesy which means being able to pronounce people and place names appropriately. The applicant will need to be able to reach that level or commit to reaching that level through training after starting the job.
No. We need some officers who have the other necessary skills as well as Welsh language skills. These officers could be people who have the necessary skills but need to learn Welsh, or officers who can speak Welsh and have the other necessary skills. The Welsh language is considered to be one of the necessary skills and we will provide training for members of staff who do not have it.
No. It is our responsibility to ensure that there is someone who can provide the Welsh language element of a job. The Standards will not affect you current position.
No. The Welsh language is only one skill of many skills and characteristics that are considered in the process of promotion and job acquirement in Carmarthenshire County Council.
Yes. The Welsh Language Standards come under the Welsh Language Measure 2011 which was passed as a law by the National Assembly on 7 December 2010 and approved by Her Majesty in Council on 9 February 2011.
The Assembly was given the right to approve the County Council Standards and they were passed in the National Assembly on 24 March 2015.
Page updated: 26/03/2018 11:40:04