Foster parents in legal bid for full rights and sick pay

Tribunal claim aims to give carers paid by council full employee rights.

Foster care: Employment tribunal to be held in Glasgow (file pic). Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features

A Scottish employment tribunal could help guarantee sick pay and paid holidays for foster carers across the UK, it has been claimed.

Lawyers for Glasgow foster parents James and Christine Johnstone will try to prove they work for the city council and are owed employment benefits.

Foster carers are paid to look after children but are not considered employees and are not entitled to the minimum wage, sick pay or paid holidays.

A preliminary hearing is set to take place in Glasgow later this year.

The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain, which appointed the Johnstone's legal team, believes a positive outcome would put pressure on the government to change regulations UK-wide.

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"Foster care workers do extremely important work, they are highly supervised, told what to do and how to do it, and paid for the work they do, yet have no workers rights," said union general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee.

"The courts in England and Wales have failed to deal with this issue appropriately, but in Scotland the issue of foster care worker employment status is yet to be determined and determining it is precisely what we intend to do with this case."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the case.

He said: "We can say we provide comprehensive support to our foster carers.

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"Our fostering service is regulated by the Care Inspectorate and has recently received a positive inspection report.

"Issues raised by foster carers are always taken seriously and we will work with carers to resolve any difficulties they face.

"We only seek to deregister carers in a tiny minority of cases and only when there are significant concerns about the care being provided."

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