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Foster carers win fight for rights

A UNION acting for two Scottish foster carers claimed a landmark victory yesterday when a tribunal recognised them as employees — a first in Britain.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) argued that foster parents James and Christine Johnson were employees of Glasgow City Council and should be entitled to basic rights such as protection from unfair dismissal and for whistleblowing.

The union took the case to an employment tribunal, which ruled that the level of control and mutuality of obligations meant the couple were clearly employees of the council.

The tribunal also found that the council was enforcing contractual obligations by its “no work, no pay” policy.

The high-level intensity of fostering the couple were undertaking, known as multidimensional foster parenting, was one of the key factors in the decision.

In his ruling, judge Ian McFatridge noted: “I am not in any way making a finding about the status of ordinary mainstream foster carers.

“What I am saying is that, on the basis of the facts in the current case, the claimants were employees.”

IWGB general president Jason Moyer-Lee said the ruling was a “massive victory for employment rights for foster care workers in the UK” and called on Glasgow City Council to “accept the decision and take immediate steps to rectify their unlawful behaviour.”

The union hopes it will encourage the government to change the law on foster parenting.

Glasgow City Council said it was “considering the terms of this decision.”

A spokesman added: “We do note that the employment judge has explicitly made clear that his findings in this case do not extend to the status of mainstream foster carers.”

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