With the ongoing challenge around the supply of care workers in rural settings this article gives some pause for thought….
Care workers recruited from overseas to look after elderly and disabled people in Britain are being charged thousands of pounds in illegal fees and forced to work in exploitative conditions to pay off their debts.
An Observer investigation has uncovered a network of agencies supplying workers to care homes and homecare agencies that charge recruitment fees to candidates.
By law, agents cannot charge a fee for finding or trying to find a candidate work. The practice of charging recruitment fees, previously exposed in the UAE and Qatar, is considered a human rights abuse that leaves workers vulnerable to exploitation.
But the fees are often disguised as a “processing”, “service” or “admin” charge, with many workers unaware they are illegal. Often, the breakdown of fees or full amount is not fully disclosed until the worker has reached the UK, by which time they have already paid for flights and relocation.
Workers from India, the Philippines, Ghana and Zimbabwe are among those charged for their recruitment, with fees ranging from £3,000 to £18,000.
Some have become trapped in debt bondage – a form of modern slavery – as a result of the fees. Suspected victims described how agents had deducted money from their salaries and withheld their passport or residence permit until they repaid the sum owed.