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Government visa rules allowing rogue employers to abuse and exploit care workers, union warns

GOVERNMENT visa rules are letting rogue employers and recruitment agencies rip off, abuse and exploit care workers from overseas, a shocking report by Unison has revealed.

The public service union said visa regulations give “dodgy” employers “total freedom to exploit overseas staff at whim.”

Examples include charging thousands of pounds for “introductions” and “care training,” hundreds of pounds for “cultural induction,” poor working conditions and sub-standard accommodation.

Migrant care workers can also face deportation if the firm they work for collapses or loses local authority contracts.

The government is also planning to cap the number of migrant care workers allowed into Britain and refuse entry to their dependents — effectively breaking up families.

“These employees have faced demands for excessive fees from recruitment agents in return for jobs in the UK, had money deducted from wages if they try to leave, and had to pay extortionate rents for substandard accommodation,” the report says.

Unison says it has also uncovered evidence of migrant care staff forced to work 19-hour shifts without breaks, who have suffered racial abuse and been threatened with dismissal and deportation.

Recent figures showed that the social care sector had 152,000 vacancies.

Unison's report, Expendable Labour, says care staff are propping up a crumbling care system and calls for the government to end the exploitation they face.

Head of social care Gavin Edwards said: “The government doesn’t understand social care.

“If ministers had even a basic grasp of the sector, they would have reformed it long ago. 

“But instead, the inept approach to the awarding of care visas has given dodgy employers total freedom to exploit overseas staff at whim.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The care system would implode without migrant care staff.

“Overseas care workers have been encouraged to come here to support those most in need, only for some employers to treat them as expendable labour. 

“Ministers must stop being complicit in allowing this abuse to happen.

“The government needs to reform immigration rules, not make them more draconian. 

“Ministers’ attention would be far better focused on fixing care and boosting pay so careers in the sector are more attractive.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate illegal activity in the labour market, and we will continue to revoke licenses from those who abuse the system.

"New measures already in force will cut the rising numbers of visas granted and address significant concerns about high levels of non-compliance, worker exploitation and abuse."

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