Ask the Experts: Translating Handbooks into Spanish
Question: If we have a substantial number of Latino employees, are we required to provide our employee handbook in Spanish?
Answer: While providing an employee handbook in additional languages – or having an employee handbook at all – is not a requirement, it is a best practice if a significant portion of your workforce is not fluent in English. Generally, if you have 10 percent or more of your workforce speaking a language other than English (in your case, Spanish), we recommend making your handbook available in that language.
The same goes for any type of accommodation you may want to make if a substantial number of your employees need it to receive the information in your handbook. This includes writing to a low literacy level, or providing it in braille or audio tape for the visually impaired.
Remember that an employee handbook gives you the best opportunity to clearly communicate your company policies, outline expectations for employees to follow, and help protect you from liability. In some cases, such as with anti-harassment policies, the failure to communicate the policy in the language that your employees speak may increase your risk of liability in the event of a lawsuit.