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Your Business May Have Additional Foreign Language Posting Requirements

2/26/2016
Your Business May Have Additional Foreign Language Posting Requirements

Does your business have employees who don’t speak English? Or do you operate in a state with enforceable foreign language posting requirements? If so, you need to be aware of additional posting obligations beyond the mandatory federal and state postings.

Let’s look at both situations.

1. Spanish postings regardless of your workplace makeup

Currently, 22 states (and Washington DC) require businesses to display certain postings in Spanish. In fact, you must comply with this requirement regardless of your workforce demographics and whether or not you have any Spanish-speaking employees on staff. Mandatory foreign language postings are required in:

Alabama
Arizona
California
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

The good news: If you’re in any of these states and a Poster Guard® Compliance Protection member, you’re automatically covered with the regular English service, which includes the necessary posters in both English and Spanish. Although it’s called the English service, this all-inclusive service provides the Spanish postings to protect your business and keep you 100% compliant.

2. Actual locations with Spanish-speaking employees

If you have business locations with a significant number of Spanish-speaking employees who aren’t proficient in English – but you don’t fall under the above list -- your obligations change a bit. In this case, you must post the federal combination poster, which covers six separate postings, in both English and Spanish.

So what is a “significant number” of Spanish-speaking employees? The law isn’t definitive on this so most employers – under legal counsel – will post the federal combination poster in Spanish if it affects 10 percent or more of their workforce at any given location.

Your state postings are a consideration, too. On a state level, there’s no actual law mandating you to display every poster in both English and Spanish, even if you employ a lot of Spanish-speaking employees who aren’t proficient in English. Even still, most employers who must post the bilingual federal poster for their Spanish-speaking employees choose to post state postings in both languages, too, as a best practice. This can provide an added layer of protection in any legal disputes. After all, it would be difficult to explain why you displayed certain posters in Spanish but didn’t take the extra step to post every mandatory notice in a language all employees would understand.

So while it’s not required and it’s not a black-and-white law, it’s certainly recommended that you post both federal and state posters in Spanish and English. There is one recent exception to this guideline. In Pennsylvania, businesses who employ Spanish-speaking workers must post all of the state posters in Spanish. Unfortunately, the agency doesn’t provide a clear definition of who this applies to, only stating it affects all employers with Spanish-speaking employees. Unlike the standard for the federal posters, you don’t have to employ a “significant number” of Spanish-speaking employees, nor do the employees have to not be proficient in English. So if you have Spanish-speaking employees in a Pennsylvania business location, you should err on the side of caution and post all the federal and state posters in both English and Spanish.

Meeting your foreign language posting requirements is easier as a Poster Guard member, largely because you have the flexibility to decide for each of your locations. If you have more than one location, you can determine which ones need bilingual postings for federal and/or state, which can vary from location to location.

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