“The question of employment rights for foster care workers goes to the heart of why our foster care system is in crisis. Carers are leaving the system in droves as they are pushed around, victimised and neglected by their employers.” – Pauline Graham, Secretary of the IWGB Foster Care Workers Branch
Foster care workers in the UK are mis-classified as 'independent contractors' – the lowest rung on the ladder of employment rights. That means that foster carers do not get minimum wage, sick pay, protections for whistleblowing or paid holiday.
The IWGB Foster Care Workers Branch is campaigning for limb (b) worker status for foster care workers which would unlock key rights. This is a category of self-employment which acknowledges that the worker actually provides a service as part of someone else’s business, in this case local authorities and independent fostering agencies.
The IWGB is pursuing this change through public campaigning, legal challenges and advocating for a change in the law. With the support of the union, branch members Jimmy and Christine Johnstone won their case against Glasgow City Council and were found to be employees of the council. The IWGB is the secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foster Care Work. You can see the proposed Foster Care Workers Bill here.