Community Language Allowance Scheme (CLAS)

Are you a government employee who can speak another language or do you know someone in your organisation that is proficient in more than one language?

The Community Language Allowance Scheme, known as CLAS, recognises the language skills of employees who can provide on-the-spot language assistance in the workplace.

CLAS is an allowance paid to qualified NSW Government employees who have a basic level of competency in a language other than English and work in locations where their language can be used to assist customers.

The scheme helps the NSW Government provide efficient and effective language assistance to their customers.

Interested employees must be nominated by their department or agency for CLAS.

Employees will need to sit for a test to determine eligibility for language allowances. These tests are held quarterly by NAATI.

For any enquiries please contact the CLAS Coordinator from Language Services at Multicultural NSW.

  • CLAS is an allowance paid to qualified NSW Government employees who have a basic level of competency in a language other than English and work in locations where their language can be used to assist customers.

    Qualified employees are to be viewed as languages aides and not fully-qualified interpreters or translators.

    CLAS draws on the language skills of employees to provide on-the-spot language assistance for simple matters. Some examples include answering customer enquiries, providing directions to another office or making appointments.

    Qualified employees who are selected for CLAS can use their language skills as part of their usual duties, or in addition to their normal role on an as-needed basis.
    Successful employees are remunerated by the employing department or agency.

  • Full-time, part-time, permanent and temporary employees nominated by their agency are eligible for CLAS.

    Nominated employees can qualify for CLAS by having existing NAATI qualifications. This includes:

    • Accreditation at the interpreter level or above
    • having a NAATI-recognition award.

    Alternatively, employees who have language skills can complete the Multicultural NSW examination, which is conducted by NAATI on a quarterly basis.

  • Multicultural NSW has engaged NAATI to deliver language proficiency testing to establish eligibility for CLAS.

    NAATI is the national authority responsible for maintaining a quality assurance system of accreditation for bilingual language aides, interpreters and translators.

    It maintains a credentialing system for more than 200 languages and supports an extensive system of testing and assessment.

    NAATI is responsible for scheduling the Multicultural NSW examination, providing the examiner and liaising with the employee and the employer .

  • Various expense and work-related allowances, such as CLAS, are adjusted annually.

    The CLAS allowance is paid by the department or agency you work for.

    To give you an example, the CLAS allowance was outlined in the Department of Premier and Cabinet circular C2019-23. It was for a base-level rate of $1,448 per annum and a higher-level rate of $2,177 per annum.

    Your department or agency’s HR team should be able to advise you further about the current rates.

  • Interested employees must be nominated by their agency for CLAS.

    Employees who would like to sit the CLA examination (conducted by NAATI) should contact their agency’s CLAS contact officer. If you do not know who this is, Multicultural NSW suggests you contact your HR team.

  • The examination fee is for each candidate, per language, and is payable by the department or agency.

  • 1. Applicants should be endorsed by their manager.

    2. Complete the CLAS Nomination Form and forward it to the CLAS Coordinator at Multicultural NSW.

    3. Multicultural NSW will send applicants the link to NAATI to register for the tests.

    4. Testing is conducted quarterly. Applicants should be ready to take the exam when NAATI confirms the date of test.

    5. Applicants should go to the NAATI website and follow the steps to register. A passport-size digital photo and copy of a photo ID must be uploaded to NAATI’s website when registering.

    6. In the registration it must be noted that Multicultural NSW is sponsoring the application. Details will be provided with the NAATI registration link.

    7. NAATI will invoice Multicultural NSW.

    8. Multicultural NSW will invoice agencies.

    9. Multicultural NSW will issue CLAS certificates signed by the CEO.


Page last updated: 9 January 2023 | 11:42 pm