The Catalan requirement remains a contentious issue. | Josep Bagur Gomila


In 2016, the Balearic government, which was then a coalition of PSOE and Més (Podemos were not formally part of the government), introduced a law designed to recover the use of Catalan in public services. In reference to health professionals, exemption was granted in the event that there was a lack of personnel. A requirement of Catalan knowledge could be waived.

Two years later, Més in the Balearic parliament pressed for an amendment. A decree was issued regarding the use of Catalan by health service staff. This established that workers who did not have the required level of knowledge of Catalan would be assigned a provisional position. In these cases, they were obliged to obtain the required level and to have this accredited within a maximum period of two years from the date of their employment. If they did not, they lost certain rights, such as receiving the so-called professional career bonus that is paid to categories of public sector employees, but they would keep their jobs.

This was taken to the courts, and a year ago the Supreme Court in Madrid annulled the decree and the two-year obligation for obtaining Catalan accreditation was effectively shelved.

The situation in the health service is that it is still governed by the 2016 law, but as this allowed for exemptions because of personnel shortages, the principle of recovery of Catalan has been put into the background. Catalan can't be insisted upon, precisely because there are shortages in key categories of health worker - doctors and nurses. For categories where there aren't shortages, e.g. orderlies, the Catalan requirement is being applied.

Politically, this is an issue for the government, especially as Més have been to the fore in demanding Catalan speaking.