A care providers’ group have condemned examples of employers abusing overseas recruitment.
The BBC has reported that a national helpline set up for victims of modern slavery is reporting a steep rise in calls from overseas workers who came to the UK to help plug staffing gaps in the care sector.
Many said they had paid huge sums to the people who brought them over after visa rules changed last year.
Unseen UK said more than 700 care staff used its helpline in 2022, citing examples of people being overworked and poorly paid when they arrive.
Today the social care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) condemned such practices.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “I am horrified to hear that this is happening and absolutely condemn such activity. These operators have no place in social care provision in this country and should be rooted out and punished.
“The recruitment of overseas staff into social care has become a lifeline for care providers, the vast majority of whom are treating those staff with the respect they deserve.
“There is absolutely no reason for overseas staff to be paying for their own travel or sponsorship certificate – these should be met by the care provider.
“Overseas staff are coming to this country to provide care and to progress their own careers, they are not coming here to be mistreated in this way and it must be stopped.
“Thankfully, the vast majority of those coming to work in social care – some 70,000 in the past year – are being properly treated, are settling in well and are happily making a career for themselves in an important and rewarding sector.
“For many providers they are performing a vital role and are the difference between them being able to offer care and struggling to do so. They are doing a fantastic job and we are delighted and grateful to have them.
“As well as that they are contributing to the cultural mix of our care operators, which is a wonderful thing.”
Mr Padgham said going forward the workforce issue had to be addressed.
“A central part of the reform we are campaigning for is over staff and involves improving the pay and conditions of the workforce,” he said. “We have to create a social care sector where staff are paid on a par with their NHS healthcare counterparts and social care gets the recognition and standing as a profession and a career that it deserves. That will make recruitment into the sector – from home and abroad – easier to do and ease pressures in the system.”