Lidl denies 'ban' on Welsh language claims in Welsh shops

The supermarket told staff in England only to speak English while working

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The Independent Online

Lidl has said that Welsh will never be banned in its stores after claims that staff could speak only English while working sparked outrage.

The Welsh Language society had branded the alleged policy of only letting staff speak English throughout the UK unless a customer did not speak the language “appalling”.

The controversy came after workers at a Scottish branch in Kirkcaldy, Fife, were warned that they could be sacked for speaking Polish.

One member of staff told the Daily Mail: “I tried to explain to the manager that many customers who do not speak English correctly come to our shop because they know there is a Polish service at the cash desk, bakery and shop floor as well.

"The manager became irritated and told me to carry out his orders."

An initial statement released on the incident said: “It is Lidl UK company policy that staff speak in English to customers, irrespective of their native language.

“This is for the benefit of all our customers as well as our staff to ensure a comfortable environment where all feel included.

“However, it goes without saying that our staff are able to assist a customer by conversing in their native tongue, if the customer is unable to speak any English.”

But Lidl has since said that the policy did not apply to Wales and apologised for the "confusion".

"To be completely clear, we have never and will never 'ban' the use of the Welsh language at Lidl," a spokesperson said.

"Nor do we prohibit staff from speaking Welsh to each other. Those who have visited our Welsh stores will know that we embrace the language, with many of our stores also having Welsh signage.

"We hope that this helps to resolve any misunderstandings."

The statement added that "whilst staff are on their break, they are of course welcome to converse in their language of choice.

"We only ask that they consider their colleagues who may be sharing rest facilities at the same time."

The language has official status in Wales and protections for the freedom to use it are enshrined in law.

A spokesperson for Lidl said: "In light of recent events we would like to assure our staff, customers and the general public that we do continually review our policies and will be considering all feedback that has been presented to us."

The Welsh Language Commissioner will respond to the controversy “in due course”.