Foster carers held to be Council employees

In the case of Glasgow City Council v Johnstone UKEATS/0011/18 the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT upheld a decision by the Employment Tribunal (ET) that two foster carers are employees of Glasgow City Council.

In 2011, Mr and Mrs Johnstone were accepted as foster carers by Glasgow City Council. They subsequently brought claims in the Scottish Employment Tribunal after they were denied specialist support in caring for a child with severe mental health concerns. The tribunal found that there was a contract between the parties and therefore the Johnstones were employees of the Council.

The Council appealed this decision on the basis that the relationship between the parties was based on statute and was not contractual in nature, but the EAT dismissed the appeal and agreed with the Tribunal’s decision that the relationship between the council and the Johnstones was akin to employment. One of the reasons for this finding was that the Council exercised a high degree of control over how they carried out their duties. Another determining factor was the annual fee paid to the Johnstones, which was deemed to have “the appearance of remuneration as opposed to a sum supplied to cover the claimants’ costs”.

The contract in place here related to a particular model operated by Glasgow, and therefore we cannot necessarily apply this decision to all foster carers.