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Compliance with Welsh language schemes

There is a duty on public bodies with statutory Welsh language schemes to make sure that services for the public comply with the scheme’s requirements. The organization itself is mainly responsible for the quality and standard of these services. Language schemes include commitments which state the way the organization will review how the scheme is implemented.

Regulating
The Welsh Language Commissioner is responsible for regulating organizations’ compliance with their Welsh language schemes. The Commissioner’s Regulatory Framework, which came into effect on 1 April 2016, explains how the Commissioner intends to conduct her work of regulating Welsh language schemes from this date forward.
 
Statutory investigation
If the Commissioner suspects that an organization is failing to comply with its language scheme, whether by means of a complaint received or by holding reviews or investigations, she may hold a statutory investigation under section 17 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 to decide if there was a failure.

 

Complaints

If a member of the public has failed to receive a service in Welsh from a public organization, they may make a complaint to the Welsh Language Commissioner. The Commissioner may consider the complaint if there is evidence that the organization has failed to provide a service in accordance with its language scheme.
 
Making a complaint about the implementation of a Welsh language scheme
Usually, the complainant would be expected to make the complaint to the organization first, to give it a reasonable opportunity to respond. The Commissioner believes that 12 weeks is a reasonable period for an organization to provide a final response to the complaint.
 
The complainant is expected to make the complaint within 12 months of becoming aware of the problem. However, the Commissioner may investigate complaints that do not meet these requirements if the complaint is urgent, or shows a serious failure by an organization to implement its language scheme.
 
Resolving a complaint about the implentation of a Welsh language scheme
If the Commissioner can investigate your complaint, she will see if the matter can be resolved informally by discussing it with the organization. If this isn’t possible - especially if the complaint shows a serious failure on the part of the organization to implement its language scheme -  the Commissioner will hold a statutory investigation.
 
If the Commissioner finds that the organization has failed to implement its language scheme, she may
 
  • make recommendations on how the organization should rectify the situation and
  • publish a report on the investigation into the complaint.
If it appears to the Welsh Language Commissioner, following a complaint, that a public organization may have failed to comply with its Welsh language scheme, she may hold a statutory investigation in accordance with section 17 of the Welsh Language Act in to see if there was a failure.
 
The Commissioner will give the organization a reasonable chance to respond to the accusations in a complaint, and will seek an acceptable and timely solution for the complainant. The Commissioner will consider the following factors to decide if the organization has responded to the complaint appropriately:
 
  • Has the organization resolved the specific case in question and provided appropriate evidence to the Commissioner?
  • Has the organization acknowledged its failure and (if relevant) apologised to the complainant?
  • Has the organization committed to take action so that the failure does not happen again? Has the Commissioner received enough evidence of this?
  • Has the organization acted in accordance with its Welsh language scheme when dealing with the complaint and/or responded to correspondence within a reasonable period?
 

Investigations

If an organization does not provide evidence to show that it has taken the above action, the Commissioner will hold a statutory investigation, unless there are special reasons not to.
 
If a public organization has taken the above action, it is possible that the Commissioner will not wish to take any further action. However, under certain circumstances (or if an organization has not taken all the steps or has not fully implemented them), it is possible that the Commissioner may decide to hold a statutory investigation.
 
The Commissioner may also hold a statutory investigation based on other evidence that shows a failure to implement a Welsh language scheme, such as information in monitoring reports, information following a review, or any other information. The Commissioner will follow the same principles and the same initial action as she would follow when dealing with a complaint.
 
Statutory investigation reports are published on the Commissioner's website. Click on the titles below to read the reports.
 
 
 
Annual reports
 
In the context of the Welsh Language Measure and Welsh language standards, standards regulations refer to ‘a body producing an annual report’ which deals with the way in which it has complied with the service delivery, policy making and operational standards.
 
A report of this type must include, for example, the number of complaints received by the body, the number of employees who have Welsh language skills as well as information concerning training courses offered by the body during the financial year in question. Furthermore, regulations refer to a body’s obligation to provide any information the Commissioner may ask for which relates to its compliance with all groups of standards. Lastly, a body must publish an annual report and ensure that it publicises the fact that it has done so.
 
In the context of the 1993 Welsh Language Act, bodies that operate Welsh language schemes are under a statutory duty to prepare and present an annual monitoring report for the attention of the Commissioner which describes how they implement those schemes.
 
 
Within an annual monitoring report, bodies are expected to demonstrate that they are complying with their language schemes and include information and evidence about the main issues relating to the schemes’ implementation. The Commissioner has produced reporting guidelines for different groups of bodies. A list of all the Commissioner’s responses to annual monitoring reports can be found here.
 
 
 
The Welsh Language Commissioner’s Regulatory
 
Framework
 
The Welsh Language Commissioner is responsible for regulating organizations’ compliance with their statutory language duties. The Commissioner’s Regulatory Framework, which came into effect on 1 April 2016, explains how the Commissioner intends to conduct her work of regulating Welsh language standards and Welsh language schemes from this date forward.
 
The Commissioner believes that compliance is not achieved through enforcement alone; therefore she will maintain a programme of work which will encourage compliance and help to enable things to happen as they should.
 
Broadly speaking, the Commissioner intends to regulate through a combination of various methods, including using her powers under section 4 of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 (Welsh Language Measure), learning and reporting on the experiences of Welsh language users, (possibly) issuing codes of practice, conducting thematic studies on a variety of standards as well as considering how best to respond to annual reports on Welsh language standards or annual monitoring reports on the implementation of Welsh language schemes.

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