Ask HR: Can We Say That Being Bilingual Is a Requirement?
Ask HR: Can We Say That Being Bilingual Is a Requirement?

Ask HR: Can We Say That Being Bilingual Is a Requirement?

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, one of your employees stumps you with a question you haven’t heard before. The pros at the HR Support Center really have heard it all—at least, until tomorrow.

Here is a recent question and expert advice from HR On-Demand, one of the features available to HR Support Center subscribers.

Question:
When we post job ads, can we state, "Bilingual in English/Spanish is a must"? Our ads currently read, "Bilingual in English/Spanish is a plus.”

Answer from Rebecca, HR Pro:
If speaking Spanish is an essential function of the job, then you may certainly say that being bilingual is a requirement and consider only Spanish-speaking applicants for the role. In general, there is nothing discriminatory about requiring that applicants know an additional language, provided that speaking the language is actually something that is necessary for them to perform the job.

By “essential function” and “necessary,” we mean that the job can be performed only by someone with knowledge of Spanish. If an individual who does not speak Spanish could successfully perform the essential functions of the role, then we recommend saying that being bilingual is a highly preferred skill for the position.

Rebecca has a diverse background in Human Resources and Training Management from the temporary staffing and insurance industries. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from LaRoche College and previously served in a variety of HR management positions.

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