Many complain about employees lacking Latvian language

Latvia has a number of jobs in different sectors and professions where it is possible to carry out work duties without knowing the Latvian language, but often even those who should know the language by law, do not. The number of complaints about the lack of Latvian-language knowledge is increasing, Latvian Radio reported on August 14.

The State Language Center receives approximately 400 complaints a year, and in the last two years, the number of complaints about people who do not speak Latvian in the workplace has increased.

Madara Rēķe, head of the State Language Control Department of the State Language Center, said most complaints were received about cashiers, shop assistants, waiters, bartenders, guards, and taxi drivers. Complaints about not knowing the official language have also been received about food suppliers. The law states that couriers should know the Latvian language at the basic level but they do not have to have to be able to hold complex conversations.

“While there is this rule that couriers should know the state language of the country when carrying out their work duties, in reality, when checking, we conclude it is not the case,” Rēķe said. “As far as couriers are concerned, they are self-employed, their own employers. When we talk about these service platforms, “Wolt” and “Bolt”, they are designed to actually place all responsibility on the courier, who, starting the job, fills out a questionnaire or notes that he is responsible for having the necessary language skills and the whole responsibility lies with the courier as a natural person.”

Latvian Radio contacted one of the food suppliers operating in the Latvian market – Bolt Food. A relatively large number of foreigners carry out their courier duties. In a written comment to Latvian Radio, the Bolt Food administration expressed that couriers were not employees of the company.

“Bolt Food has a diverse community of partners in Latvia – around 15-30% of partners are from Ukraine, India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. Bolt's relationship with couriers doesn't have an employer-worker relationship. Couriers are not employees of Bolt but independent service providers,” said Bolt Food.

The company explained that Bolt Food couriers use an app designed to provide the customer with all the necessary information.

“This approach ensures that knowledge of the language is not an obstacle,” said Bolt Food. “We have observed that our partners are often very motivated to integrate into the local community and get all the necessary permits or licenses. Our platform serves as a bridge, offering a flexible revenue-generating opportunity."

At the State Language Centre, Latvijas Radio established that employees in the private sector are not the only ones who do not comply with the requirements of the Law regarding language knowledge. Also in state and local government institutions and businesses, the language knowledge is a problem.

“These are a variety of professions, ranging from teachers, police officers, customs officers, as well as companies such as bus drivers,” said Rēķe.

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