Community language allowance scheme

This policy provides for the payment of a Community Language Allowance to suitably qualified employees who have a basic level of competence in a language other than English.

Changes since previous version

2020 Apr 14 - updated contact details as well as link in section 3.1.

This policy has been reformatted to meet the new policy formatting requirements.

Document history

2000 Jan 17 - policy was published.

Superseded documents


  1. Policy statement
    1. A significant number of people in NSW whose first language spoken as a child was not English either do not speak English or do not have sufficient command of the language to avail themselves of the services and programs provided by the Department of Education.
    2. As a strategy to provide equal access to departmental services and programs, the Community Language Allowance Scheme (CLAS) draws on the existing language skills of employees of the Department of Education. The CLAS also covers employees required to use AUSLAN, the official sign language of Australia.
    3. The Community Language Allowance (CLA) is paid in addition to the normal salary to eligible employees who have either successfully passed the CLAS test or who have National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) qualification and whose language skills are used to meet departmental demands for language assistance.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. All permanent and temporary administrative and support staff and non school-based teaching service staff.
  3. Context
    1. The NSW Government's Community Language Allowance Scheme is administered by the Community Relations Commission. For further information visit the Multicultural NSW website.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. Responsibilities of community language allowance recipients

      CLAS recipients are responsible for the following:
      • providing timely and accurate language assistance;
      • keeping informed about the department's services and referral points related to their work area, as well as a general understanding of other departmental services;
      • determining if a matter is formal or sufficiently complex to warrant the use of interpreters and notifying the appropriate person to ensure that this assistance is provided;
      • keeping records of CLAS usage; and
      • notifying the manager or supervisor if the CLAS workload is excessive, that is, if the demand for CLAS assistance is impacting negatively on the employee's normal workload.
    2. Responsibilities of officers with delegate of authority to approve payment of a community language allowance

      Officers or their nominees with the delegation of authority to approve payment of the CLA have particular responsibilities with regard to the implementation of the CLAS. These include:
      • identifying the potential demand for a specific language within their area;
      • determining the languages, number and locations of recipients under the CLAS;
      • surveying the existing language skills of staff members who may be eligible for CLAS testing;
      • advising all staff in their workplace of the names of CLAS recipients and ensuring all staff, the public and service users are aware of the availability of the service;
      • ensuring CLAS recipients are available to use their community language/s when required;
      • notifying the relevant payroll area to organise payment of the CLA once it has been approved and to stop payment once the CLA recipient no longer uses their language skills. This may be due to a change in tasks or when the employee is transferred to another location where there is no demand for the language skills;
      • reviewing annually staff members receiving a CLA to determine that there is continued demand for their language assistance; and
      • notifying the department's CLAS contact officer of approved CLA recipients.
    3. Responsibilities of the Community Allowance Scheme contact officer

      The department's CLAS contact officer is from the Human Resources Directorate. The main responsibilities of the CLAS contact officer include:
      • distributing information on the CLAS throughout the department;
      • reviewing and updating the list of staff receiving the CLA;
      • liaising with the Community Relations Commission about the CLAS test; and
      • providing, when required, a report on the CLAS.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. The Executive Director, Human Resources, monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.
  6. Contact
    1300 32 32 32
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