CEACR Observation on Latvia under ILO Convention No. 111 (excerpt), 2017

Article 1(2) of the Convention. Discrimination on the basis of national extraction. For a number of years the Committee has been expressing its concern over the discriminatory impact that the language requirements of the Law on State Language 1999 might have on the employment or occupational opportunities of minority groups, including the large Russian-speaking minority. The Committee recalls that section 6(2) of the Law on State Language requires that employees of private institutions, organizations and undertakings (companies), and self-employed persons shall use the official language if their activities “affect the lawful interests of the public” (public security, health, morality, health care, protection of consumer rights and employment rights, safety in the workplace, or supervision of public administration). The Committee also recalls that pursuant to section 6(5) of the Law on State Language, the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 733 of 2009 prescribes the level of proficiency of the Latvian language requirements. The Committee had previously noted that this provision affects a large number of occupations and posts. It had asked the Government to review and revise the list of occupations for which the use of the official language is required under section 6(2) of the Law so as to limit it to cases where language is an inherent requirement of the job. The Government has replied that no such list exists. Noting that the “lawful interests of the public” even with the limits prescribed in section 6(2) of the Law on State Language 1999 is a broad concept, the Committee asks the Government to consider drawing up a list of occupations (or indicators) which are considered to fall within the scope of section 6(2) thereby clarifying where Latvian language proficiency is considered to be an inherent requirement of the job. In this regard, the Committee emphasizes that the concept of inherent requirements of a particular job provided for in the Convention must be interpreted restrictively so as to avoid any undue limitation on employment and occupational opportunities for any group. The Committee also asks the Government to provide information on Latvian language classes and activities carried out in the country to benefit minority groups including the Russian minority.

Document data: adopted in 2017, published in 2018. Link: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3340488

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