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Foster parents as workers – please tell me that the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain are having a laugh!

I must be getting old. It is not that I cannot do the activities that I used to - though for the record, I cannot! It is not even that doctors, police officers and everyone else seems to look so young. Again, for the record, they do. And pleased that I am that I am more technically proficient than I ever was - and that is not saying much, it seems that the technology is becoming more and more difficult for me to grasp! No the thing that really makes me feel old is the latest ET claim that left me quite speechless. ‘I’m getting old’ was the only thing I could think of saying when I first heard about the claim launched today by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.

I have loads of respect for foster carers. Lots of. The work that they do, the way they go about doing it is all so impressive and worthwhile. But the news about the case being brought against Hampshire CC that foster parents might be regarded as ‘workers’ and which, if accepted, opens the gates for entitlement to employment benefits is a big step out of my comfort zone. As respectful as I am about the role of fostering, I do not regard it as a job with pay, benefits, sickness entitlement, annual leave and the like. Nor do I think that the majority of others would either.

Fostering is vocational and about love and care. It is not about entitlement. Fostering is not about financial reward or employment safety, or a promotion opportunity or working time directive.  It is wholly about the welfare and safety of a child.  And if an ET thinks differently, and it bothers me that they might, then me - thinks that the role of fostering has been completely misunderstood and will be changed beyond recognition and rather less compellingly. And the law will become an ass! I understand the ‘emergency’ service provided by foster carers but please, never regard it as a job of work. Much that some of us love our jobs and working, to regard fostering as a duty on a job description misses the big point about why foster carers exist. And if for one moment, an ET decides to accept the claim, how long will it be before an adoptive parent, a relative caring for a sick family member or for that matter, a ‘parent’ will be making the same claim. Where does that end?

I have no doubt that the IWGB will tell me that I do not understand and that the precedent has already been set in Scotland. Well I do understand and it is just plain wrong!  I know that Scots feature largesse in our politics but that does not make this right. There are reasons why this claim should be dismissed on face value. That is before one contemplates the implications of the consequent floodgate.

 It is an ill - advised claim and I hope will be seen for what it is. Certainly, it has nothing to do with employment and I hope that the ET kick it a long, long way into touch.

ET’s have way too many things to be worrying about than this sort of nonsense.

Martin Tiplady
09 Oct 2017

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