GMB, the Union for Foster Carers, has called on Focus Academy Trust to rethink its decision to deny one of their members of school support staff pay for a period of time when she was left unable to work due to taking into care her brother.
A GMB member of school support staff employed at a school under the control of Focus Academy Trust was left in an unimaginable position when suddenly she was required to take into care her brother, rather than let him be fostered. By taking care of the child under a Special Guardianship, Kirklees Council were able to avoid the financial implications of taking responsibility of the child until he was 18. Kirklees Council has supported our member to date but will be unable to continue extra financial support once she returns to work.
Our member has had to take nine months off work and is due to return shortly. However, the academy has refused to pay her whilst she has been off work. Our member is now left with the difficulty of having to find money for childcare whilst she returns to work. All Focus Academy Trust has offered is a loan which will put our member into debt.
The GMB member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "Why should a single parent raising a child under a Special Guardianship Order be treated differently to someone adopting a child? Not to be entitled to maternity pay is just not fair and makes a bad situation even worse. I feel so let down."
Andrew Aldwinkle, GMB Organiser, said: "It is appalling that there isn’t more support for special guardians. These are people who take children into their care and out of the fostering system, saving the local authorities hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, it is down to each local authority to determine what, if any, financial and other support they will receive. There are also no legal entitlements to be paid time off for special guardianship duties."
"GMB is calling on Focus Academy Trust to do the right thing and pay their employee her wages, as well as calling on the Government to intervene and give these people providing a vital role in our society some rights within their workplace."
For further comment contact Andrew Aldwinkle on 0345 337 7777 or Caroline Jones on 0345 337 7777 or 07800 714247 - both at GMB.