Foster carer fighting for "workers" rights

A foster carer is launching a legal battle to get employment rights for people who chose to care for children. Sarah Anderson is filing a landmark case that could open the doors for thousands of foster care workers in the UK to have their employment rights recognised.

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Should foster carers be given workers' rights?

They dedicate their lives to looking after children - often in very challenging circumstances. Being a foster carer is a 24 hour job, but despite this carers have no workers' rights.

According to a survey - carried out by the Fostering Network - more than 50 per cent of foster carers felt their allowance did not cover the full cost of looking after fostered children.

Watch the debate here.


Foster carer in landmark case for employment rights

Sarah Anderson Credit: IWGB

Carer Sarah Anderson and the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) argue that people who foster children should be entitled to holiday pay, among other rights.

If successful the case could open the doors for thousands of foster care workers in the UK to have employment rights recognised.

The IWGB will today submit an employment status and unpaid holiday claim against Hampshire County Council. The union will argue that as a result of the relationship between Anderson and the council, she should be considered a worker and entitled to rights, including holiday pay.

Foster care workers in the UK, while they are paid by local councils, agencies or charities to look after children, are not recognised as workers nor employees.

As foster care workers we are exploited, have no rights whatsoever and are treated as a disposable workforce, when society needs carers more than ever. We can't advocate or look after our children properly if our rights aren't recognised and protected.”

– Sarah Anderson
Sarah Anderson and husband Tim Credit: IWGB

But the IWGB has started to challenge the traditional employment status of carers. In June, in a case brought by the IWGB in Scotland, a Glasgow employment tribunal recognised two foster carer workers as employees under Scottish law

While in a previous case the Court of Appeal ruled that foster care workers could not be recognised as workers, as they do not have contracts, the IWGB will argue that this case is different on the facts and that under European law contracts are not necessary to establish an employment relationship.

Many foster care workers are highly qualified, put in very long hours, are rigidly supervised and have foster care as their main source of income

This case is not about whether or not foster care is a form of work – that ship has sailed – this case is whether those workers should be entitled to the employment rights the rest of us take for granted.

– Dr Jason Moyer-Lee.WGB General Secretary
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