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Masthead Local Govt - Child

Union takes council to court over employment status of foster carer

The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) trade union is to take a test case against Hampshire County Council over the employment status of a foster carer.

It will argue that Sarah Anderson is a worker and so entitled to holiday pay and other rights.

The union said that if it won thousands of foster care workers could have their rights recognised.

General secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “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.

“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.”

The IWGB admitted that 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, but will argue that this case is different on the facts and that under European law contracts are not necessary to establish an employment relationship.

A Hampshire statement said the council was unaware of any case being brought against it regarding the work status of foster carers.

It said: “There is a clear line of case law from the Employment Appeal Tribunal (Bullock v Norfolk CC [2011] UKEAT) which states unequivocally that foster carers are not ‘workers’, as well as Court of Appeal authority to that effect such as in the case of NA v Nottinghamshire County Council [2015] EWCA Civ 1139 which dealt with a question of vicarious liability in a foster care situation.”

Mark Smulian

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