RIGA - Saeima today supported in the first reading a bill ensuring the status of the Latvian language as the only state language in Latvia.
The bill was proposed by the Conservatives. It partly limits the use of the Russian language in information that is made available to consumers.
The draft law also defines exceptional cases in which it will not apply, including interpersonal communication.
The bill provides that it will be prohibited to use a language other than an official language of the European Union in addition to the state language in communication between customers and major companies, state and municipal institutions.
This provision will also apply to public service providers, electronic communications companies, payment and credit service providers, energy traders, public transport companies, housing managers, airports, bus stations and railway stations, taxi service providers and waste collection companies.
This condition will apply to any visual material, applications, websites, online banking, portals, advertisements or other announcements, correspondence, contract texts, invoices and other materials addressed to a wide range of customers, except for individual communication between an employee and a customer.
At retail outlets, using a language other than an official EU language in addition to Latvian will not be permitted in the following cases: in visual or audio announcements, information signs inside or outside the retail outlets, printed materials visible to customers, on their websites, in information sent to customers, unless the customer has previously agreed in writing to receive information in another language in addition to Latvian, which is not an official EU language.
Employers with a staff of at least 50 employees will have to inform the State Labor Inspectorate if at least five employees are required to know or use a language that is not an official language of the EU, or if a command of such language is considered an advantage for employing a person. The inspectorate will publish a list of such companies on its website.
The bill stipulates that employers may not require their employees to know or use a language that is not an official EU language for doing their job.
The bill will be in force from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026, after which it may be further extended if necessary.
The bill was submitted to Saeima by the Conservatives MPs Krisjanis Feldmans, Sandis Riekstins, Ainars Baskis, Linda Medne and Janis Butans.
Saeima Legal Affairs Bureau previously said that there were several contradictions in the bill and that Saeima should not consider it.