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Foreign Language Posting Requirements Every Employer Should Know

Regulations in over 20 states require labor law posters to be in English and Spanish, regardless of whether employees speak both languages.

It’s an area of labor law posting that often gets overlooked, but non-compliance with foreign language requirements can have serious implications for employers. Certain federal and state laws require you to communicate information in languages that employees understand, so you need to be aware of your obligations to workers with limited or no English-speaking ability.

Foreign language posting requirements have been getting more attention recently based on population growth and the increasing number of people in the United States who speak a language other than English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, the number of people five years of age and older speaking a foreign language at home is 65.5 million. This figure, which represents 21.6 percent -- or a fifth -- of the U.S. population, has doubled since 1990.

Spanish is the most-used foreign language in the United States, spoken at home by 40 million people.

With these facts and figures in mind, employers should carefully consider their responsibility to inform employees of their rights in the multilingual workplace. And if you think you’re excused from displaying foreign language postings because you have an all-English-speaking workforce or only a few employees who speak another language such as Spanish, you may be wrong.

Let’s take a closer look at the foreign language posting regulations and recommended best practices.

Spanish Postings No Matter the Workplace Makeup

Currently, 22 states – plus Washington, DC - require businesses to display certain labor law postings in Spanish even if they don’t have any Spanish-speaking employees. If you’re an employer in any of the following states, you must display applicable postings in English and Spanish:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

You must also display several city/county postings in multiple languages, even if all your employees are proficient in English.

Rules for Locations with Spanish-Speaking Employees

If you have a significant number of Spanish-speaking workers at your office who don’t speak English proficiently, you must display all federal postings in both English and Spanish.

Because the law isn’t clear on a “significant number” of Spanish-speaking workers, employers are often unsure about how to proceed. It’s best practice to display federal postings in Spanish if they affect 10 percent or more of the staff at any given location.

You must also consider your state postings if you have Spanish-speaking employees. Even if you employ a lot of Spanish-speaking workers who aren’t proficient in English, there’s no state law requiring you to display every poster in both English and Spanish (except for Pennsylvania). However, most employers who must display federal posters in Spanish also choose to post state postings in both languages. This can provide an added layer of protection in a legal dispute.

Ensure Full Compliance with Poster Guard Compliance Protection

If you’re in any of the states that require mandatory postings in Spanish, you can enjoy automatic coverage with Poster Guard® Compliance Protection’s regular English service. Although it’s called English service, this all-inclusive package also provides the Spanish postings to protect your business.

As a Poster Guard member, you can easily satisfy your foreign language posting requirements. It gives you the flexibility to determine which of your multiple locations need foreign language postings based on federal and/or state laws.