3 Foster Carers Take on Government

by The National Union of Professional Foster Carers (NUPFC)

3 Foster Carers Take on Government

by The National Union of Professional Foster Carers (NUPFC)
The National Union of Professional Foster Carers (NUPFC)
Case Owner
NUPFC is the first government-approved and certified trade union supporting and protecting Foster Carers. Importantly, its General Secretary and founder of NUPFC is a former Foster Carer.
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The National Union of Professional Foster Carers (NUPFC)
Case Owner
NUPFC is the first government-approved and certified trade union supporting and protecting Foster Carers. Importantly, its General Secretary and founder of NUPFC is a former Foster Carer.
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In June 2023, the East London Employment Tribunal heard three test cases of NUPFC Foster Carers responsible for caring for children placed with them by the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest, Bromley, and Haringey, respectively. 

Ms Oni, Ms Dawkins, and Ms Reid told the Tribunal about the problems they faced by many of the thousands of foster families in England and the lack of any legal remedy to challenge the injustice.

The Employment Tribunal heard the legal submissions of all parties on 6-8 February 2024.


Foster Carers are classified as neither workers nor employees, meaning they are denied fundamental employment rights. The National Union of Professional Foster Carers (NUPFC) are the first Foster Carers' union to challenge the Government in 25 years. We need your help to get workers' rights for all Foster Carers and, therefore, better outcomes for the children in their care.  

First Foster Carers' union to challenge the Government in 25 years.

In 1998, a case in the Court of Appeal called 'W v Essex' ruled that Foster Carers did not work under a contract. This left those who looked after and accommodated the country's most vulnerable children without employment protection. Our members are now attempting to overturn that decision.

Claims such as race discrimination and whistleblowing in the Employment Tribunal are not available to Foster Carers. NUPFC says this is a breach of their Human Rights. 

In June 2023, the Tribunal heard many of the common problems Foster Carers face when asking to improve their working lives. The Foster Carers said that despite working 24/7 to care for the children, most do not get holiday pay. Robin Findlay, the founder of NUPFC, says there is a massive shortage of Foster Carers, so carers who can give respite to allow full-time carers to rest are few and far between. The necessity of rest is not written into policy, meaning many carers go without any time off, including when sick.

He also said, "when advocating for a child, the constant threat of Standard of Care investigations and the removal of the child are used to keep the carer quiet and often confine carers to work and live in distressing environments that subsequently impact the child in their care."

"When advocating for a child, Foster Carers are at constant threat of investigation" - Robin Findlay.


Why Are We Raising This?

NUPFC are serious about getting workers' rights for Foster Carers. Our first step in this direction was the successful appeal in the Court of Appeal to allow NUPFC to be an accredited trade union on the Government's list of certified trade unions.

This test case is representative of thousands of Foster Carers nationwide who, for too long, have been overlooked.

The Equality of Human Rights Commission support us, but their funding is limited. Taking this case to the Supreme Court is expensive, and they cannot cover all the costs. We need to raise £50,000 to help us pay legal fees, gain the rights of all Foster Carers, and take back justice.

We hold the Government accountable for Foster Carers' lack of employment rights. The Secretary of State for Education has intervened in the legal action. It is crucial to hold the Government to account. The argument that Foster Carers look after the children for "love, not money" does not fit the real world in 2023. NUPFC says Foster Carers can do both.

“Children in Foster Care need carers who are supported” - Robin Findlay.


This critical test case would not have been possible without the fantastic hard work and dedication of everyone at NUPFC and the legal team. Without such dedication, this case will not be heard. No other lawyer has mounted a serious human rights legal challenge to the lack of foster carers' employment status for 25 years. They are the first.

Our legal team consist of Jacqueline McGuigan [link to bio] and Ella Lawrence [link to bio] of TMP Solicitors [link to website] and the barristers, Rachel Crasnow KC [link to bio] and Christopher Milsom [link to bio], who have fought tirelessly to speak up for Foster Carers.

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