Are foster carers workers?

Historically, the EAT have held that Foster carers were not workers. For a role to attract worker status there must be a contract. Formal agreements govern the Foster Carer and Council relationship and these are determined by law; not freely entered into or subject to negotiation.

Sue Anderson is a registered Foster carer for Hampshire County Council who is hoping to change the way that Foster workers are viewed. Presently Foster workers operate under an agreement with a third party which does not afford them worker or employee status. They have no employment rights. Whatever agreement they operate under paints a bleak picture similar to that of the historic Zero hours contracts before they were amended to afford more protection to individuals.

Sue states that she will be looking at a Scottish Case that found Foster care workers should have employee status in some specific instances and these cases focused on the mutuality of obligation that existed. Again it comes down to looking at what they do in practice, how that relationship works day to day. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain who is lodging the complaint on her behalf is looking to prove that a contract is not required to evidence an employment relationship.

We will have to watch this space….but if she’s successful the floodgates will open as in the UK we have over 55,000 Fosterers…….

This case comes hot on the heels of several other related cases concerning the status of self employed people, workers and now carers.

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