Foster carers win legal battle to claim worker rights

Edinburgh Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that foster care workers are entitled to employment rights and should be categorised as council workers.

The court ruling follows an appeal lodged by Glasgow City Council, in the case brought against them by foster care workers Jimmy and Christine Johnstone, who originally filed the case in 2017 after safety issues with a young person in their care. 

Edinburgh Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the initial decision and confirmed that the carers are entitled to sick pay, holiday pay, guaranteed minimum wage and protection from whistleblowers. 

Following the success of the trial, Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the carers’ representative at the tribunal, believes more foster care workers will follow suit to secure employee rights and protections. 

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Jimmy Johnstone said: “For years, we were told we had no rights. No employment rights, no right to representation or due process and no right to speak out even when our family was at risk. This is the reality facing foster care workers nationwide.

“Three times in four years we’ve had to fight and win our case but with the support of our union, we have won the day. We are delighted with the ruling and hopeful that it will encourage others to take up the fight. All foster care workers want is to have basic protections everyone should be entitled to so that we can do the best job we can for our young people.”