A FOSTER carer is launching a legal claim to be regarded by a council as a worker in a landmark case.
Sarah Anderson, who is used by Hampshire County Council, is pursuing a claim to the authority that she is to be treated as a worker and entitled to rights including holiday pay.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) filed an employment status and unpaid holiday claim on behalf of Ms Anderson today.
Currently, foster care workers are paid by councils, agencies or charities but are not recognised as employees. The case could open the door to thousands of other claims.
Ms Anderson, who is chairwoman of IWGB’s foster care workers branch told the BBC: ‘As foster care workers we are exploited, have no rights whatsoever, and are treated as a disposable workforce, when society needs carers now more than ever.
‘We cannot advocate or look after out children properly if our rights are not recognised or protected.’
The foster carer has been in the profession for 10 years, working for the authority for the last four.
Alongside her husband, Timothy Tallent, the couple have provided a home for ten children.
She added: ‘I can be on call 24 hours a day – evenings, weekends, Christmas, bank holidays – and all we are afforded is two weeks’ respite a year.
‘Our lack of rights extends beyond any proper holiday entitlement – we have no employment rights whatsoever and we can lose our jobs on a whim overnight.’
The Court of Appeal previously ruled foster carers could not be recognised as workers as they do not have contracts, the IWGB said.
However, the Glasgow employment tribunal recognised two carers as employees under Scottish law in June.
Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the IWGB said: ‘Many foster care workers are highly qualified, put in very long hours, are rigidly supervised and have foster care as their man source of income.
‘This case is not about whether or not foster care is a form of work – that ship has sailed – this is whether those workers should be entitled to the employment rights the rest of us take for granted.’
In response, the county council told the BBC that it was not aware of any case having been brought against it.