Foster carer brings legal claim for workers’ rights
Foster carer and chair of the Independent Workers Unions of Great Britain (IWGB), Sarah Anderson, has announced that she is issuing a tribunal claim against Hampshire Council in an attempt to gain workers’ rights for foster carers.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) stipulates that a person will be classified as a worker where a number of factors are present. These include where there is a contract to do work or provide services personally for money or a benefit in kind, where the worker only has a limited right to send someone else to do the work, and where the worker is obliged to do the work just as the ‘employer’ is obliged to provide it.
Previous case law has established that foster carers do not fall under the category of ‘worker’ under the ERA, as the relationship between foster carers and their agencies or local authorities is statutory rather than contractual.
This means that as the law currently stands, foster carers do not have the benefits that workers enjoy, including holiday pay and protection against discrimination.
Ms Anderson, who has been a foster carer for 10 years, and engaged by Hampshire Council for four of those, has expressed her dismay at the lack of protection herself and other carers receive despite having, what they consider to be, a worker contract.
If Ms Anderson’s claim is successful, this will be a landmark case which could pave the way for increased protection for an array of people engaged in the care industry.