The European Court has ruled that work performed by foster parents under contracts with a pubic authority does not fall within the scope of the Working Time Directive (WTD). Consequently, foster parents are not entitled to paid rest periods or annual leave.

In a case referred from Romania, the Court reasoned that foster parents were recruited by the public authority to integrate a child into their household in order to ensure the upbringing and education of that child.  Therefore, regularly granting the right for foster parents to be separated from the child for the purposes of weekly rest breaks and annual leave would undermine the whole point of integrating the foster child into the family.  Weekends and holidays are the very times at which family life is developed.  The rules for rest breaks under the WTR were therefore incompatible with the role of foster parents.

In the UK, judgment is awaited in two employment tribunal claims on the employment status of foster carers and whether they are entitled to holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations.  It seems more likely than not that this common sense ECJ decision will be followed in those cases.

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