In Ukraine, the entire service sector was obliged to switch to the state language from January 16. This requirement is spelled out in Art. 30 of the law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language", adopted at the end of the term of the fifth president, Petro Poroshenko.
The corresponding document came into force in July last year, but some of its norms, including one of the most stringent ones - obligatory customer service in the Ukrainian language, did not take effect immediately, since a transitional period was envisaged for this.
And so, the Commissioner for the Protection of State Language Taras Kremin recalled that from January 16, in Ukraine, in the sphere of consumer services, only the state language should be used.
Who exactly was affected by the innovation, will there be exceptions and what threatens violators - read further in our article.
Who was affected by the innovation?
All service providers, regardless of ownership. Manufacturers, executives, sellers - all of them will have to provide consumers with information about products (goods), works or services in the state language.
"In a supermarket and in an online store, in a cafe, a bank, at a gas station, in a pharmacy or a library, wherever you are, the service should be in Ukrainian," notes Kremin.
In information about products (goods), work or services provided in the state language, it is allowed to use words, abbreviations and designations in English and / or using letters of the Latin and / or Greek alphabets.
At the request of customers, information in the service sector can be duplicated in any other language.
There is an exception! The law prescribes one and only possible case when personal service can be carried out in another language - if the client himself asks about it.
"When a person comes, for example, to a catering establishment and addresses in Ukrainian, but he is not answered, then this is a violation of the law. If the client himself initiates the use of another language, the staff can respond in the language in which the person is comfortable to communicate," marks the ex -Ombudsman for the protection of the state language Tatiana Monakhova.
In addition, the document as a whole does not apply to the sphere of private communication and religious rites.
According to Monakhova, in everyday life people can communicate in any language, but when communicating between a citizen and the state, it is necessary to use Ukrainian.
We quote: "In what language a person speaks with children or parents, with friends, in what language he writes poetry or letters, writes on social networks, prays to God - this is his personal choice. At the same time, if a person stands before the state as a citizen and appeals to the state: "Protect me, teach me, heal me, give me a job," then the state requires the use of the state language. "
What if they refuse to serve in Ukrainian?
Advice from the Ombudsman:
- First you need to try to solve the situation on the spot and ask the employee to serve you in the state language;
- In case of refusal, you should contact the management of the institution or the "hot line" of the institution: a retail network of gas stations, pharmacies, etc.;
- In case of refusal or non-provision of information (services) in the state language, record this fact (with the help of audio, video, written confirmation of eyewitnesses, etc.) and the data of the enterprise (name, location, contacts);
- Submit a complaint to the Ombudsman at the postal address 01001, Kyiv, Muzeiny lane, 12, to the email address [email protected] or fill out the appropriate form on the Ombudsman's website.
Important! The complaint must indicate: surname, name, patronymic, your place of residence, the essence of the complaint, which subject / employee of the subject, when, at what address, how he violated your right. The Ombudsman also recommends attaching evidence to support it.
The written complaint must be signed and dated. In an electronic complaint, you must also indicate your email address (to receive a response), or information about other means of communication with you.
Complaints should be filed within six months from the date of the violation.
Punishment for violators
It will be a fine. Criminal liability for violations of Art. 30 language law is not provided, only administrative punishment.
The Ombudsman for the Protection of the State Language and his representatives on the ground will be responsible for the fine of violators.
According to Art. 57 of the law they will not immediately fine anyone.
Initially, a warning will be issued to the service representative asking them to remedy the violation within 30 days.
In the event of a repeated violation during the year, a protocol is drawn up, on the basis of which the linguistic ombudsman issues a resolution on the imposition of a fine in the amount of 300 to 400 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens.
The violator is obliged to pay the fine within 15 days after receiving the relevant decision (he must notify the Commissioner of this within 3 days, indicating the number and date of the payment order).
Also, a business entity has the right to appeal against the decision in court. In case of loss, the fine must be paid no later than 15 days after notification of the abandonment of the complaint.
And there is one big BUT
The authorities can get the opportunity to fine violators only in 2022.
It was by that time, according to the former chairman of the committee on culture and spirituality Mykola Knyazhytsky, that administrative responsibility for violating the law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language" was postponed.
"We have postponed the introduction of administrative responsibility for violation of the law for three years, and during this time, centers of teaching the Ukrainian language will be created in all regions of Ukraine," Knyazhytsky said.
Former language ombudsman Monakhova also noted that the system of fines will not start operating "right now," as the law provides for a delay of its introduction by an average of 2-3 years, so that "there is time to prepare for implementation in practice."