• IWGB will argue that Sarah Anderson is a worker and entitled to holiday pay, among other rights.

  • Case could open the doors for thousands of foster care workers in the UK to have their rights recognised.

9 October: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) 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.

The IWGB will today submit an employment status and unpaid holiday claim against Hampshire county council, on behalf of foster care worker Sarah Anderson. The union will argue that as a result of the relationship between Anderson and the council, she should be considered a limb (b) 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 recognized as workers nor employees.

But the IWGB has started to challenge this. In June, in a case brought by the IWGB, the Glasgow employment tribunal recognised two foster care workers as employees under Scottish law.

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,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee. “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.”

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.

The claimant, Sarah Anderson, who also chairs the IWGB’s foster care workers branch said:

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.”

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