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BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ programme investigates abuse of Care Workers | Immigration Matters

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Tens of thousands of foreign migrants work in the UK care sector, the BBC reports on Radio 4’s ‘Face the Facts’ programme.

But, the programme concludes, many are exploited by the agencies and gangmasters who hire them. Presenter John Waite interviews two care workers who claim to have suffered abuse by employers, and from the regulator who wants the power to regulate the care home industry – where not only the residents are vulnerable to abuse.

The show features a Filipino nurse brought in by an agency in the Philippines which charged her 500,000 Pesos (around £8000) to arrange a job for her in the UK. However, on arrival she was told to report to a different care home, not identified by the BBC, where she was underpaid and forced ‘to sleep on the floor for six months’.

The show did not specify the type of visa she applied for or whether or not her own agency in the Philippines was regulated by the POEA, a Philippine government agency which controls job recruitment and agencies.

Martin Green CEO of ECCA said overseas care workers are still needed in the care sector, where rates of pay are low compared to other industries.

He blamed the government and local authorities, which commissions care in the private sector, for keeping rates paid to providers too low to pay staff higher salaries.

Also featured is a Romanian care worker who obtained employment by registering on a NVQ course and applying for a Yellow Card – a special category of student visa for Romanian and Bulgarian EU workers who can enter the UK freely but do not enjoy the same rights as other European citizens.

She said her employers made her do washing as well as care work and ‘forced her to work 50 to 60 hours per week’ without full pay – which is more than she was allowed and would have left little time for studying. She also said her NVQ training company ‘did not send an assessor’, although she did not say whether or not she attended any classes during her time at the college, which did not take part in the programme.

Face the Facts host John Waite called for agencies to be regulated by a system along the lines of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) which mainly covers companies using temporary workers such as cockle pickers and those operating in the agricultural sector.

A spokesman for the UK government said that Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate (EAS) already regulates the industry and setting up a new layer of regulation would be expensive and cumbersome.

But many would argue that whilst it is impossible for the UK authorities to regulate  agencies based overseas, employers could be compelled to source staff only through properly UK registered agencies.

At present employers, including the NHS, often cut out British agencies preferring to ‘go direct’ to overseas agencies as they think this will save them money – and perhaps provide HR staff more opportunity to go on overseas recruitment trip or ‘jollies’ as they are known in the business.

On the all important immigration and visa front, Immigration Advisers in the UK are fully regulated (unlike visa agents in the countries when most of the care staff originate) by the OISC which lays down strict guidelines on fees and professionalism.

Unlike Canadian Embassies, which only accepts immigration applications from Canadian qualified and registered immigration advisers, British Embassies and the UK Border Agency has no such requirement.

Indeed, any visa or travel agency in India, China, Africa or the Philippines can submit a visa application to a British Embassy visa office or assist a person applying for a visa.

Under the recently introduced points based system, immigration advisers have been effectively sidelined with the government encouraging applicants to apply direct, leaving the door wide open for unscrupulous ‘visa fixers’ and unregulated agents to exploit migrants.

Employment Agencies in the UK are not allowed to charge applicants a fee for finding them a job or so called ‘work placement fee’, which is still legal in many countries.

New regulation is not needed to solve the problem of migrants being exploited, just a recognition by the government of their own regulated British professionals, agencies and advisers.

It should also be noted that migrant workers in the UK have the same employment and human rights as their British counterparts and should seek advice if they feel they are not being treated fairly. Many migrants even qualify for state funded Legal Aid for fighting their case, often against the UK government. 

Workers can also seek help from trade unions and the free Citizens Advice Bureau centres which operate all over the country. In addition there are many migrant charities which offer free help and advice such as ILPA, JCWI and the government funded Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) see useful links for more details.

As Martin Green said, the care industry is heavily regulated as they are providing care to the most vulnerable members of our society. The UK Border Agency also carries out regular inspections on care homes to check that migrant workers are being employed legally, as featured in the programme.  

Whilst there will always be isolated cases of unfair treatment or abuse of staff the vast majority of employers in the sector are ethical, legal and fair mined.

Face the Facts featured two workers, from an industry which employs millions, who seemed to have more of a gripe with the people from their own country. The programme lacked overall direction and omitted many important details leading to an unsatisfactory conclusion.

The BBC seems to have forgotten that UK has the most comprehensive range of services and fair and equal policies for protecting rights of all citizens in the world.

If this were not the case, there would not be thousands of overseas migrant workers queuing up to work here.

You can listen to the full broadcast on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xf5dy#synopsis

If you have suffered abuse by an agency or employer please comment below or email info@immigrationmatters.co.uk

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Tier 2 Working Visas, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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11 Responses to “BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ programme investigates abuse of Care Workers”
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  1. […] BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ programme investigates abuse of Care Workers […]

  2. kirsten akena says :

    Whilst I understand some of the abuses. I employed filipino workers above the minimum wage with excellent accommodation at NO Cost and good working hours the thanks I got was the house was trashed and they lied , lied and lied again it was only when they went to an abusive epmloyer that they were regularly ringing saying what an excellent employers we were – karma. It seems that some overseas migrant workers go around crying about their lot but some are not as innocent as they seem. I do not condone abuse but I have learnt that alot of the migrant workers, who will take take take take and in the end kick you in the face. I am done with all of them.

  3. thunderstorm says :

    THE AGENCIES SHOULD BE STOPPED FROM EXPLOITING CARE WORKERS AND THE CARE WORKERS WHO ARE GENUINELY DOING A GREAT WORK SHOULD BE PAID ADEQUATELY

  4. nat2chuva says :

    ..is there a way that I can contact this site. I have a serious problem regarding one of my previous employers, they owe me money about £2,500.00. They said they will going to sponsor me to a working visa but to no avail. Until now they haven’t paid my money.They issued a check last 7 September 2010. And the check was returned to me because it has no fund(REFER to DRAWER) was stated in the check. My status here is a student visa. I came from the Philippines and my visa will expire until March 2013..
    Hope you can help me with this.I always come to that residential home every now and then and often call the manager in her mobile. But all I’ve got was always a promise and tons of excuses.

  5. I think the government and embassies should’nt give a hard time for the filipino who are genuinely wanted to work as a care worker,, so that no one will go to some scrupolous people who take advantage of this innocent worker whose only dream is to work and support their families,.. if there is really a demand for the care worker in the UK then hire them in a less payment system and easy way

  6. I urage you this employer takes us as a care and only pay 6 pound /per/houre. we do client care, domestic work ,kitchen work and landury work.They suck our blood. please help us and see the home no cleaner in the evening time and no kitchen staff in the evening time where care is 24 hourse avialabel.

  7. Life of care workers in South wales is terrible. The climate is hostile and the employer from India exploit care workers working under them. Through various ploys the owner of the care homes misuse them.

  8. Priscilla E. Garcia says :

    My comment is based on schools in UK who upon enrollment then under UK’ s student immigration programme charged immediate fees upon enrollment as down payment with promise to refund part of fees if denied which in truth and in fact seldom happens or even none . I’ve got to know one who did it immediately upon request and not delaying and ignoring.Could be your school if ever as I knew you seemed to be doing well.

    Maybe , these colleges there in UK and agencies will wait when a group of civic minded individuals , NGO’s here in the PHILIPPINES , MEDIA TO MAKE ALL EXPOSE to all of these anomalous business conducts , unethical practices , economic sabotage and immoral to think of the destroyed lives not only of individuals , but including here now of so thousands of applicants!

    I was at first with my pool of legal associates and consultants in my own company and linked NGO’s and my connections would initiate and pursue a class suit to these schools and Agencies with our linkage partners of International lawyers so many will be saved of future applicants no longer to be misled , but having gotten a very good humanitarian business venture on the making of global concern that I decided at the moment to put it on hold with time constraints now having my hands full of things to do.

    Yes , for luckily able to get out from the business as cannot stomach to encourage applicants and giving them false hopes when I knew they stand so little to be approved now.

    Unfortunately though, I have to stop the first phase of our program on international study link in UK as part of our 10 year developmental program because as I had stated ahead , it is more so of these colleges in UK who failed to refund and us here in the Philippines acting as guarantor to the legitimacy of such schools and ending up paying the unpaid refunds as found them to have closed and bearing the hundreds of thousands even million in pesos loses.

    My honest to goodness international study link program aimed at educating our would be benificiary students for a waiting bright career back here in pHIL. TO WORK NOT AS JUST CARERS BUT ON MANAGERIAL & SUPERVISORY POSITION OF A MULTI PURPOSE ELDERLY AND CHILDREN FACILITIES TO BE PUT UP BY OUR FOUNDATION WITH LINKAGE INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS ON BOT /JOINT VENTURE SCHEMES IN OUR INHERITED ANCESTRAL LANDS BOTH IN MANGALDAN , ALAMINOS PANGASINAN;AND WITH SEVERAL LAND OWNERS WILLING THEIRS TO BE DEVELOPED FOR THE PURPOSE. THE TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES I HAD MADE ME NOW REALIZED THAT VERY GOOD INTENTIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH. HOWEVER , I STILL BELIEVE RIGHT WILL ALWAYS BE RIGHT ESPECIALLY WHEN ANCHORED WITHIN GOD’S LAW ON WHAT IS RIGHT CLEARLY ENUNCIATED IN OUR HOLY BIBLE.

    I admire you in continuing the student visa program. i KNEW YOU HAD HELPED SO MANY FILIPINOS HAD GOOD LIVES WHEN THINGS THEN IN uk’S IMMIGRATION PROGRAM ON STUDENT VISA WAS NOT AS TOUGH AS IT IS NOW !!!!

    However , am sorry , if contrary to what you are in fighting still, am with full prayers British Immigration stop it. It had ruined the lives of thousands here in the Philippines who had been misled by many scrupulous agencies who made the program on student visa only as front but actually only in papers then with linked Care homes to be really in full time care workers. I do not blame UK’s immigration department to go on this tougher measures . I would be even more than grateful though , if they will stop really the program as more are exploited, lives destroyed by selling and losing their mortgaged properties than of the numbers you are in thinking being helped.

    If only I have my way to speak up the truth without affecting legitimate Agencies. Correct me if am wrong . For long I have done it. But may God forgive them and bless their souls!

    Please , consider my comment or my suggestion if you really mean to help as social entrepreneurs to rather put a stop on this student visas thing. It is ruining more lives in number than those being helped if all of us be quite honest . We all knew that the money in banks of 90 percent if not 99 percent of these applicants of needed funds are not really theirs but borrowed with huge interest rates , worst with mortgaged real estate properties that when denied lost these only properties commonly among all .

    In the name of business ? For God’s sake , please do something about this and the colleges that do not refund. I WILL GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR BEST ADVISE TO ME ON THIS AS REALLY WITH OUR GREAT LOSES , WITH MONEY AM TO MAKE NOW WILL USE IT TO SEE PEOPLE REALLY WHO ARE INTO THIS UNETHICAL MANNER OF DOING BUSINESS WILL I not hesitate to pay to lawyers just to see them behind bars. Not just for me but for these applicants languishing and in DEPTH OF DEBTS!!!

    Admittedly , here in the Philippines if we talk about it and we all be honest enough and be morally upright with this beautiful program of UK if nor for agencies who are only after money and colleges as well run by some if not many equally greedy owners that continuously encouraged Filipinos so ignorant and naive especially in provinces as to their very slim chances of being approved

    I went back to the Philippines despite a very bright career as Human Resource Manager and with a part time job as Academe / HR and immigration consultant to a college in United Kingdom having a work permit visa for 5 years. After a month vacation here in the Philippines in 2006, saw am more needed here than UK with so many intellectuals and equally civic minded and values driven individuals with their many charitable institutions . They already are blessed so much there, but not the Philippines my very own country. Saw more need here in addressing our poverty issues of developing more the Philippines than exporting its human resources .

    For the immediate term , yes as the dollar remittances help us economically greatly by now, but in terms of its social , moral impact of thousands of family breakdowns and children left mending on their own such huge remittances can never repair. The love and care of mothers / fathers in far away lands cannot be substituted by the mighty dollars and pounds !!!! tOO MANY BROKEN MARRIAGES adding to our moral bancruptcy of graft and corrupt practices. Many Filipinos grown to the niceties of these developed countries can’t be blamed if have chosen to have stayed . Before I FORGET MY DREAMS IN MY OWN COUNTRY TO BE LURED MORE BY MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE IN UK, THAT WITH NO SECOND THOUGHT AND NO TURNING BACK WENT HOME IN STRUGGLE TO FIGHT WHAT MUST BE DONE HERE …DEVELOP PEACEFULLY IN COOPERATION WITH OUR GOVERNMENT AND TO FEW INDIVIDUALS WHO STILL LOVE THEIR CO FILIPINOS BY SHARING THEIR INTELLECT , TIME AND BOUNTIES !!!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MORE POWER TO YOU FOR GIVING ME THIS CHANCE TO EXPRESS MY COMMENT AND SENTIMENTS . Hope you can help us build further the dream.

  9. […] BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ programme investigates abuse of Care Workers […]

  10. MUJIBAT OLUWATOYIN OSENI says :

    My comment is based on the salaries that health care workers are being paid, despite the fact that health care workers provide care to the most vulnerable members of the society and they are exposed to hazards.Despite the fact that care workers are exposed to job hazards they still receive poor salaries which I think is not fair enough.
    I think government should review the salaries of care workers in UK.

    Many Thanks.
    Mujibat.

  11. David House says :

    I am presently in the Philippines and used to own a care home. I recruited staff from here myself, but some years ago, when the regulations were easier and did it completely correctly. No fees to the staff, air fares and proper salaries paid. People here are desperate to find jobs abroad and are regularly exploited. I know several care staff who paid very large fees to obtain a “student visa” in the hope of converting it into a permanent stay in time. They live in over priced, crowded acomodation and earn so little that their families back in the Philippines have to support them. This is the complete reverse of what used to happen, and what they expected.

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