Tuesday 21 June 2022 9:42 PM UTC
LONDON June 20: With more than 105,000 vacancies, the Home Office introduced a visa scheme enabling care sector staff from overseas to come to the UK. But many have to pay thousands in illegal fees to recruitment agencies, The Guardian reports.
An Observer investigation has uncovered a booming industry of recruitment agencies supplying workers to care homes and domiciliary care firms across Britain that pass recruitment costs on to candidates. The reports highlights the plight of several care workers who came through Malayalee recruitment agents based in the UK and in Kerala.
According to The Guardian article, the official visa application fee for individuals is £247, with costs associated with recruitment supposed to be borne by the employer. However, many of whom arrived via a new visa scheme for care workers launched in February – report being charged between £2,000 and £18,000 in illegal fees. By law, agents can’t charge a fee for finding a candidate work, but workers from south Asia and Africa are among those being charged, said the article.
In one exchange by Observer with an undercover reporter last week, an agency based in India that supplies workers to care homes in Britain said the “service charge” to candidates for arranging a £10-an-hour job would be 1.7m rupees, about £17,800 (Rs17 Lakhs). The agency said £1,500 would be payable before the interview, £4,000 on receipt of an offer letter and £3,500 after the issue of a visa, with the remainder collected after arrival in the UK.
In another article by the Observer it states that the care workers have become trapped in debt bondage – a form of modern slavery – as a result of being made to pay the fees. Suspected victims described how agents had deducted money from their salaries and withheld their passport or residence permit until they repaid the debt. She says the agent is holding her biometric residence permit – proof of her immigration status – until the fee is paid.
The Guardian findings raise urgent concerns about modern slavery in Britain and come amid a worsening social care staffing crisis, with vacancy rates in England reaching 10%, according to the charity Skills for Care.
In February, the government added care workers to the shortage occupation list, relaxing the requirements for them to come to Britain provided they are sponsored by an employer.
A Keralite couple were arrested by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority on suspicion of exploiting vulnerable students working in care homes in north Wales. Click to Read the Full Article in The Guardian
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