Welsh will 'never be banned' from stores, says Lidl

A Lidl store Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lidl said it wanted all staff and customers to feel included

Lidl supermarket has said the Welsh language had never and "will never" be banned from its stores after claims staff could only speak English at work.

The firm had said staff should speak English to customers, irrespective of their native language.

But now it confirmed employees could speak any language customers addressed them in - including Welsh.

It comes after a row erupted after two employees in Scotland were banned from speaking Polish on their tea break.

Apologising for the confusion surrounding the use of the Welsh language in its stores, the company said it had "never and will never 'ban' the use of the Welsh language at Lidl".

"Nor do we prohibit staff from speaking Welsh to each other," it said.

On Friday the retailer told BBC Welsh-language website Cymru Fyw its policy for staff to speak in English was to ensure all its staff and customers "felt comfortable".

'Comfortable environment'

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

The Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith) called the policy "appalling" and Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws said she would respond in due course.

On Sunday, however, Lidl UK sought to clarify its language policy, and said it was a "great asset" to have such a multi-lingual workforce.

It said: "We understand that in certain regions of the UK there are other official languages in use and we welcome the use of these in our stores. We also ask that, if possible, our staff respond to customers in the language in which they are addressed."

"We absolutely aim to empower and encourage any staff members to use their language skills to assist customers."

It said staff were welcome to speak in their language of choice whilst on breaks, but asked that they consider colleagues who may be sharing the facilities.

Lidl UK said it continually reviews its policies and will be considering all feedback.

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