Case law: foster carers

Published: 4 September 2020

Glasgow City Council v 1) Mr James Johnston 2) Mrs Christine Johnston: UKEATS/0011/18/JW

This case was brought by two foster carers who were challenging the position that the relationship between them and the council was governed by statute and was not contractual. If the claimants could prove that the relationship was based on contract and that that contract was a contract of employment, then they would be classed as employees.


The EAT upheld the decision of the employment tribunal judge and accepted that the agreement entered into between the Claimants and the Council was contractual in character and in particular contained elements indicative of a contract of employment. 

This conclusion was also based on the degree of control exercised by the Council over the Claimants in the delivery of fostering services. Since one of the characteristics of a contract of employment was that one party exercised a significant degree of control over the other party, the high degree of control exercised by the Council suggested that the Council were in law the employers of the Claimants.  


The issue of whether the Claimants were also ‘workers’ was addressed but, the EAT continued on the basis that whether they were employees was a live issue, and if they were employees, they would also be workers.


Press coverage

IWGB has called on both the UK and Scottish governments to review the rights of foster care workers, and to grant them employment rights.