The IWGB is fighting for all Foster Care Workers to have a legal Worker status
But What does that mean and how will it affect us?
As foster carers we do have have a working status but it is that of ‘Self employed’ However this is not a true reflection of our working life. Here is the description of a self employed worker. Do you think we fit into this category?
- they’re in business for themselves, are responsible for the success or failure of their business and can make a loss or a profit
- they can decide what work they do and when, where or how to do it
- they can hire someone else to do the work
- they’re responsible for fixing any unsatisfactory work in their own time
- their employer agrees a fixed price for their work – it doesn’t depend on how long the job takes to finish
- they use their own money to buy business assets, cover running costs, and provide tools and equipment for their work
- they can work for more than one client
We think it’s is pretty clear that we do not fit into this one…
Having a ‘self employed’ Status suits those who employ us because they have complete control over us. We are not allowed to work for anyone else, we do not determine our own fees or could be in any way be considered to be running our own business and yet, we have no employment rights whatsoever. This is why our employers have been able to get away with treating us with such complete disregard and impunity for so long, because they are not legally obliged to do otherwise.
So if we are not Self-Employed then what category do we fit into?
We fit into the status of a ‘Worker’
A person is generally classed as a ‘Worker’ if:
- they have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (your contract doesn’t have to be written)
- their reward is for money or a benefit in kind, for example the promise of a contract or future work
- they only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work (subcontract)
- they have to turn up for work even if they don’t want to
- their employer has to have work for them to do as long as the contract or arrangement lasts
- they aren’t doing the work as part of their own limited company in an arrangement where the ‘employer’ is actually a customer or client
But what if our status changes, doesn’t that mean we will be worse off?
Will I loose my tax allowances? Will everything change?
Worker is a category of self-employed, but it means you work for just one employer, an LA or IFA, working pertaining to a contract, in our case the contract is the ‘Fostering agreement’ that both us and the LA/IFA signs.
We will in fact be classed as “Limb (b)” workers, heres the legal bit that established that!
The relevant law is s.230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), which defines a “worker” as an individual who, under a contract:
“…undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual.”
Individuals who meet this definition are known as “limb (b)” workers.
What are the rights of Workers?
- getting the National Minimum Wage
- protection against unlawful deductions from wages
- the statutory minimum level of paid holiday
- the statutory minimum length of rest breaks
- to not work more than 48 hours on average per week or to opt out of this right if they choose
- protection against unlawful discrimination
- protection for ‘whistleblowing’ – reporting wrongdoing in the workplace
- to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time
Obviously we won’t be asking for a minimum wage based on the actual hours we work, as minimum wage on our hours (168hrs per week) for just 2 children would put on nearly as much as the Prime Minister (although goodness knows you are all worth it!) So we will probably (will be working on this in our APPG) with MP’s & Peers (15 signed up already) and top QC’s to establish a set number of hours a week to establish minimum wage.
Will all our pay get changed?
No, your pay and payment systems will remain the same. The children in your care will still need an allowance. the only difference will be that there will be a a wage on top with a starting minimum based on the national living wage…no one will be expected to exist on a child’s allowance alone.
Importantly too…we will be protected against sudden pay cuts, wages slashed, allowances lowered.
A ‘Worker’ is entitled to statuary holiday entitlement, this means that you would be entitled to 28 paid holiday days a year as opposed to the 2 weeks allowance only we receive now. This entitlement doesn’t mean we would have to put our placements into respite while we take our holiday days. As foster Carers, most of us take our placements with us when we go on holiday but without it being properly funded. This extra holiday pay entitlement would make it possible for us to manage and finance our holiday periods, and of course if you don’t take the ‘Days Off’ you will still be entitled to the holiday pay.
As a ‘Worker’ you may also be entitled to statuary sick pay. This is an important protection for any worker if you suffer an injury or illness that may requires hospital treatment. Currently if you suffer ill health or have an accident that requires hospital treatment the local authority could remove you placements and with it your income with no rights to any sick pay whatsoever. this situation is unacceptable and will only add extra stress to your situation when what is really needed is compassion and support. Statuary Sick Pay is a fundamental right and protection for all workers currently denied to Foster Carers. ‘Worker’ status would change this ridiculous situation.
Who will be affected by any changes? click here for the disclaimer
The link bellow will take you to the official government explanation of ‘Worker Status’