There is a legal principle called "vicarious liability", which means that an employer is liable for what an employee does, even if that act, in some circumstances, amounts to a criminal act.
Until October 2017, in a strange twist of English law, Local Authorities were liable for the actions of employed care workers who abused children in their care, but not foster parents.
In a landmark decision, the law corrected the anomaly stating that even though there was no formal employment contract, the relationship had every hallmark of master and servant. Foster parents are vetted, inducted, trained, audited, and paid by the Local Authority, so why was this considered not to be employment?
The law derived from 1985 and a case called S v Walsall Borough Council, where the Local Authority was found not liable for a foster parent who negligently burned a child’s foot on a stove, when the law was very different.
The big difference of course is that most foster parents are on zero hours contract and are only paid when they have children. Nonetheless, most quasi employment relationships are now caught by vicarious liability, so foster care is yet another example.
At Simpson Millar, we offer a free consultation for victims of physical or sexual abuse.