This year Foster Care Fortnight runs from 15 to 28 May. It is The Fostering Network’s annual campaign to show how foster care transforms lives. Here, we take a look at some of the ways in which employers can support employees who have foster care responsibilities.
Research from The Fostering Network highlights that there are 43,905 foster families in England and nearly 40% of foster carers work alongside their caring responsibilities, but what are their employment rights for parental leave when they foster a child?
In short, the rights to leave that foster carers have compared to maternity leave for biological parents or adopted parents are limited, and much of the support employees who are foster carers receive is dependent on their employer’s policy around foster care leave. Having said that, foster parents have the same statutory right as other employees to request flexible working and will also be protected if they need to take time off to care for the children in their care.
It is also worth remembering that the opportunity to foster a child can arise quite quickly, compared to the amount of time expectant parents have during a pregnancy to make their employers aware of their situation – so it’s important that employers have policies in place that allow for speedy implementation if an employee fosters a child at short notice.
The above steps are all quite simple to add into a HR policy and in many cases just require tweaks to existing policies to include foster carers. While simple, the inclusion of policies around foster caring can provide great reassurance to existing and future employees alike that should they wish to explore foster caring, they are supported by their employer.