Some UK Recruitment agencies are charging overseas care workers thousands of pounds to work in the UK, according to an investigation.
It is illegal for recruitment agencies to charge job candidates a fee for trying to find them work, however, an investigation by the Observer has revealed that migrant care workers being paid £10 an hour jobs are being charged ‘administration and ‘service’ fees ranging from between £3,000 to £18,000.
Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care at England’s care regulator the Care Quality Commission has said there had been a “notable rise” in referrals for modern slavery in 2022, with 14 referrals so far, double the number for 2021.
Many of the care workers used a government visa scheme introduced in February which added care workers to the shortage occupation list (SoL) to attract overseas candidates.
However, evidence collected by the Observer, including interviews with suspected victims, charities and labour specialists, conversations with agents and analysis of payslips, contracts and online chat groups has revealed the new visa route is being widely abused by agencies and traffickers, leaving workers open to exploitation.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:
“We take any reports of unsafe and illegal employment practices in the social care sector very seriously. All providers should be meeting the clear ethical standards laid out in our Code of Practice for International Recruitment.
“Any accusations of illegal employment practices will be fully investigated by the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority, and those found operating unlawfully may face prosecution.”