Assessing the need for Welsh language skills in new and vacant posts


A member of the public made a complaint that a Welsh national organisation had not carried out a thorough assessment of the need for Welsh language skills before advertising and appointing to the post of director. The previous post holder was a fluent Welsh speaker with strategic responsibility for the Welsh language. The complainant was of the opinion that the post should be advertised with the Welsh language as an essential skill.


When a new post is created or a vacancy arises, the Welsh Language Standards places a duty on the organisation to assess the need for Welsh language skills and categorise it as a post where the Welsh language is either essential, desirable, a need to learn the language, or not necessary. A record of the assessment must also be kept.

The findings of the investigation

The investigation found that the organisation had carried out an assessment of the linguistic requirements of the post before it was advertised, concluding that the Welsh language was an essential skill for some elements of the post. 

However, the organisation decided to categorise Welsh language skills as 'very desirable' for the post. The organisation argued that categorising Welsh language skills as 'essential’ for the post would unduly restrict the number of potential applicants. 

The investigation concluded that the organisation had breached the Welsh Language Standards on the following grounds

  • The standards allow an organisation to place a job in one of four categories, as described above. ‘Very desirable’ is not one of those categories and therefore the organisation breached the Welsh Language Standards by creating a new category for its own purposes.
  • An assessment of the linguistic requirements of the post had concluded that the Welsh language was an essential skill in achieving it successfully. However, the organisation decided not to categorise Welsh language skills as 'essential’ when advertising the post. In doing so, the assessment was disregarded and rendered redundant. Conducting an assessment alone is not sufficient to ensure compliance with the standard. Categorising a post contrary to the assessment's finding equates to not conducting an assessment at all, and therefore the organization breached the requirements of the Welsh Language Standards.

What must be done to comply?

Organisations should prepare guidance and provide guidance to staff to: 

  • explain the exact requirement of the standards relating to recruiting and appointing.
  • provide guidance on the factors to be taken into account and the corresponding categories.
  • set out the steps to be taken to ensure that the assessment is objective, meaningful and detailed.
  • ensure that the person conducting the assessment takes account of all the categories listed in the standards. 
  • ensure that the assessment conducted focuses on the skills required to carry out the role in accordance with the job description.
  • emphasise the need to adhere to the assessment’s findings when setting the category for the linguistic requirement.  
  • ensure that the Welsh language is treated the same as all the other skills required for carrying out the role.

Further information

This matter is relevant to standard 132 and 147 of the Welsh Language Standards Regulations - No. 2. Further guidance on recruitment can be found in our good practice advice document.