January 15, 2011
To listen to Face the Facts, click here
10 January 2011
BBC’s ‘Face the Facts’ program aired an expose on the abuse and
exploitation of care workers in the UK. A Filipina and Romanian girl
were interviewed, both giving harrowing accounts of their treatment
here by rogue employers and agencies.
“Face the Facts” is the sister program of “You & Yours”, which has also
covered exposes on care workers and NVQ training scams, and does
in-depth analysis of certain subjects.
Many thousands of foreign migrants work in the UK care sector, a heavy
proportion of them being Filipinos.
Presenter John Waite (above) interviewed 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
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
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
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
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.
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
Martin Green representing care home operators in the UK pointed out
that the care home industry is heavily regulated, but also subject to
financial constraints, these are in the form of maximum payments by
local authorities in respect of fees to care home operators.
Filed under: News and Features