What is an enforcement policy?
It is a document that provides advice and information on the way in which the Commissioner undertakes enforcement work. The Welsh Language Commissioner must have an enforcement policy.
In verifying compliance with Welsh language standards or receiving a complaint that raises suspicion of a failure to comply with a standard the Commissioner will be able to investigate and enforce an organisation to comply with their language duties if they are found to be failing to comply. In some serious cases, it will be possible to impose a civil penalty on an organisation for failure to comply.
Short introduction to the content of the enforcement policy
The enforcement policy provides comprehensive advice and information to anyone who wants to know how the Commissioner intends to carry out his enforcement work.
It explains how the Commissioner will treat allegations of failure to comply with Welsh language standards and what action he will be most likely to take in different circumstances. It also provides information on the principles and processes he will follow as he undertakes his enforcement work.
The policy covers investigations. If an organisation is suspected of failing to comply with one or more standards imposed on them, the Commissioner may conduct a statutory investigation into the matter. Following a statutory investigation, the Commissioner will determine on the basis of the conclusions of an investigation.
The policy explains how the Commissioner will operate if he finds a failure or not:
If the Commissioner considers that an organisation has not failed to comply with a standard, under section 76 of the Measure, he may decide:
- to take no further action, or;
- to give advice and/or recommendations to the organisation or any other person.
The Commissioner can:
- require an organisation to prepare an action plan for the purpose of preventing the continuation or repetition of the failure;
- require an organisation to take specific steps for the purpose of preventing a failure from continuing or repetition of the failure;
- publicising an organisation's failure to comply with Welsh language standards;
- require an organisation to publicise its own failure to comply with Welsh language standards;
- impose a civil penalty on the organisation up to a maximum of £5000;
- give recommendations to the organisation or any other person;
- give advice to the organisation or any other person;
- seek to enter into a settlement agreement with the organisation.
There is a statutory process involved in producing the enforcement policy, and this policy has received the approval of the Welsh Ministers.
In accordance with section 108 of the Welsh Language Measure, on 21 December 2020 Welsh Ministers gave their consent to amend clause 4.9 of the Commissioner's Enforcement Policy as follows:
4.9. The Commissioner will acknowledge receipt of all written complaints received relating to the conduct of a relevant person within 5 working days. The acknowledgement will inform the complainant whether or not the complaint is valid under section 93 as soon as possible thereafter.
This change, in effect, means that the Welsh Language Commissioner is not bound to confirm the validity of a complaint within 5 working days of receiving a complaint.