A few of the individuals recruited to help close the skills gap assert that they have been paid as little as £5 per hour and have incurred unforeseen expenses.
In February 2022, the Home Office extended skilled worker visas to foreign care workers in an effort to fill 165,000 vacancies. A trade union has claimed that foreign caregivers who were brought to the UK to assist in addressing a persistent labor shortage are being “exploited on a grand scale.” After the truth came to light, some had really received as little as £5 per hour and hundreds of pounds in unanticipated costs.
One Botswana worker receiving assistance from the healthcare union Unison claimed that although she worked six days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in domiciliary care, she was being paid less than half the minimum wage required by law.
She lost her council care contract and was laid off by the Wiltshire firm; she now fears deportation. Another Cambridgeshire-based business that hired foreign workers closed its doors last week, leaving its employees afraid of being deported.
A migrant care worker attempted to leave for a position in the NHS in another instance, which the union noted, and the employer sought £4,000 for “training costs.” A third-care worker was charged unstated administrative fees, including £395 for a “cultural induction.”
The cases have surfaced in the wake of allegations that Robert Jenrick, the minister of immigration, has drafted proposals to limit immigration, such as prohibiting workers from bringing dependents or limiting them to one family. In February 2022, the Home Office granted skilled worker visas to foreign caregivers in an effort to fill 165,000 social care positions that were leaving some of the most vulnerable citizens of the UK unemployed.
According to Skills for Care, an organization financed by the government, the majority of recruits have come from Zimbabwe, India, and Nigeria.
Since care workers were placed on the shortage occupation list by the Home Office, 14% of care workers in England are now non-EU (UK excluded), while 7% are EU nationals. “Without migrant care staff, the care system would implode,” stated Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison.
Proving that these employees are powerless to address the issue of social care. Up to June 2023, almost 78,000 individuals obtained visas to enter the country and work in the social care industry. However, the regulations stipulate that an employee must find a new sponsoring company within 60 days of being laid off or their firm closing down, failing which they risk deportation.
Employers now have greater control over their workforce, and Unison is calling on the government to give them more time to find other employment. She was only compensated for around six hours of her fifteen-hour workdays, which included waiting for appointments and transportation between customers. She said that for three months in a row, her employer similarly withheld a sizable portion of her money, only to reimburse her afterward.
She had to share a room with a stranger as well. Since coming here, anxiety has been a part of her life, she said.”I have trouble trusting people because when I came here, they instilled fear in me.” She recently started a new job, but her old company hasn’t agreed to sponsor her visa yet, and this week’s 60-day deadline makes her anxious about whether she’ll be allowed to remain in the UK. Many of her belongings are now sold in Botswana. International caregivers have been urged to come here to help the most vulnerable people, but some businesses view them as disposable, according to McAnea.