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Oct

21

2019

Do I Need Posters in English and Spanish? Learn the Laws Regarding Foreign Language Postings

Many employers mistakenly believe that they are not required to display foreign labor law postings simply because they only have English-speaking employees on staff. It’s a common misconception. But the truth is that nearly half of all states require businesses to display certain labor law postings in both English and Spanish regardless of workforce demographics.

States Requiring Spanish Postings for All Employers

In these 20 states — plus Washington, DC — you must display certain (not all) postings in Spanish, even if you have no Spanish-speaking employees:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Pennsylvania is the only state where all companies that employ Spanish-speaking workers must display all state postings in English and Spanish.

Regulations for Locations with Spanish-Speaking Employees

What if you do have Spanish-speaking workers on staff? If you have business locations with a significant number of Spanish-speaking employees who aren’t proficient in English, you must display the federal combination poster in both English and Spanish (and that is because of the Family and Medical Leave Act – it’s required by law for the federal FMLA posting).

What is a “significant number?” The law isn’t definitive on this, so most employers display the federal posting in Spanish if it affects 10 percent or more of their workforce at any given location.

If you have Spanish-speaking employees, your state postings are a consideration, too. On a state level, there’s no 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. Yet most employers who must display the bilingual federal posting for their Spanish-speaking employees choose to display state postings in both languages, too.

Although it’s not required and it’s not a black-and-white law, posting both federal and state posters in Spanish and English is considered a best practice.

Local Laws Requiring Foreign Language Postings

Several cities and counties have foreign language requirements for labor law posters. This is an added complication as employers try to manage federal, state and now local ordinances.

Some examples include:

  • San Francisco Minimum Wage, Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, and Fair Chance Ordinance: Postings must be displayed in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other language spoken by at least 5 percent of employees at the workplace.
  • Cupertino, California Minimum Wage: Postings must be displayed in the top three languages spoken in the city.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave: Postings must be displayed in English and any language spoken by at least 5 percent of employees

A Note About Notifications

In addition to displaying posters, employers are required by federal, state, county and city law to distribute certain mandatory employee notices (or handouts) directly to employees. These handouts are typically issued by government agencies, and they inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under a host of federal, state, county and city workplace laws.

And just like labor law posters, they cover a range of topics: family and medical leave, workers’ compensation, sexual harassment in the workplace, pregnancy, unemployment compensation, benefits — it depends on the federal, state, county and city laws that apply to a given business. Their purpose is to inform employees about their rights.

Foreign language requirements do apply in some cases. For example, in New Jersey:

  • Employers with 10 or more employees must annually distribute a notice informing them of their protections and obligations under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act. This notice must be distributed in English and Spanish.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must distribute the New Jersey Gender Equity Notice to all new hires, to any employee upon his/her first request for the notice, and to all employees annually on or before December 31 of each year. Again, this notice must be distributed in English and Spanish.

Get Complete Coverage

When it comes to mandatory labor law postings, nothing short of total compliance will protect your business from the risk of government fines and employee lawsuits. This includes foreign language posting requirements. With Poster Guard® Compliance Protection, you receive Spanish-language postings in all states where they are required by law at no extra charge. For all other states, you can take advantage of optional bilingual (English and Spanish) posters. Poster Guard also offers an employee handout service so you have access to all notices required by law.

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