Companies like Uber, Citysprint, and Deliveroo have hit the headlines in recent months as their workers challenge their worker status in order to secure better employment conditions. Many people suggested at the time that the landmark ruling from these cases would open the floodgates to similar claims beyond gig economy companies and sure enough this week a foster carer has launched a similar legal bid to secure basic employment rights.

Foster Carer seeking workers rights

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has filed an employment tribunal claim on behalf of Sarah Anderson against Hampshire County Council and will argue that she should be classed as a “worker” entitling her to basic employment rights such as paid holiday, the national minimum wage and discrimination protection.

Ms Anderson has been engaged by the Council for the last 4 years and has fostered 10 children with her husband as well as chairing the IWGB foster care workers branch. She claims that her role requires her to “be on call 24 hours a day – evening weekends, Christmas, bank holidays” with only two weeks respite per year.  Ms Anderson further claims that “as foster care workers we are exploited, have no rights whatsoever and are treated as a disposable workforce”.

According to figures published by The Fostering Network charity, there are currently around 55,000 fostering households in the UK who provide care to some 64,000 children. Carers are paid a weekly allowance by local councils, agencies or charities which can vary from £150 to £500 per child with some, including Ms Anderson, receiving an additional fee to compensate them for their work.

Are foster carers workers?

Earlier this year, the IWGB successfully challenged the employment status of two Scottish foster carers in the Glasgow employment tribunal who were found to have roles akin to those of employees.

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the IWGB has commented that “many, foster carers are highly qualified, put in very long hours, are rigidly supervised and have foster care as their main source of income”. He advises that this case is about establishing basic employment rights so that “care workers can have the time off and rest they need and the pension contributions they deserve”.

If you are concerned about your employment status and would like further clarification of your rights, contact a member of our specialist employment law team today by using the links below.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel:                  01245 893400