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Many people who receive a direct payment use their money to employ their own personal assistant (PA)


Many people who receive a direct payment use their money to employ their own personal assistant (PA).  There are many benefits to employing your own PA - you choose who supports you, you get to build up a close working relationship, you can can choose how and when they support you and you can usually be more flexible that if you used  a care agency for your support.

There are also a number of responsibilities that you need to be aware of when becoming an employer; this may sound daunting, but Penderels Trust is able to provide support to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible, not just in recruiting the right person but ensuring you become a good (and legal) employer.

If you are becoming an employer, you need to:

  • Work out how much you will pay your employee, ensuring you pay at least the National Minimum or Living Wage rate.
  • Check anyone you wish to employ has the right to work in the UK.
  • Run a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on a potential employee if you need to (e.g. if the employee is going to work with children or there are children living in the house).
  • Get employer's liability insurance in place before your employee starts work.
  • Provide your new employee with terms and conditions of employment within 8 weeks of their start date.
  • Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that you are going to employ someone.
  • Check if you need to enrol your employee into a workplace pension.
  • Provide a safe place of work. 

It is important to remember that who you employ is up to you and that you will be the employer, not Penderels Trust or the local authority.  It is also important that anyone you employ understands this as well.

We have lots of support and information available about recruiting and managing your employees from how to write a great job advertisement through to managing maternity leave.  Your Independent Living Adviser will guide you through every step of the process, providing as much support as you need.

We will keep you up-to-date on changes in employment law on this page.  We will also tell you via our newsletter or we may contact you directly.

If you can't find the answer to your question here, there are other organisations and websites that may be able to help you. The government website www.gov.uk is very useful and has lots of information for employers (and employees).  If you have any issue or query about a member of staff, you could visit www.acas.org.uk for support.

You can also find specific information about our Payroll Services for employers on this website.

Whilst it may be tempting to think that it would be easier to hire someone on a self-employed basis, it is not a matter of choice. You must be guided by the employment status indicator which will indicate whether the person who will work with you should be employed or self-employed (www.gov.uk/guidance/employment-status-indicator). In our experience, people working as a PA should be employed due to the nature of the work and how they are paid.

As an employer, you are responsible for the welfare of your employees while they are at work. If you are injured or their property is damaged, you may be liable. Employer’s Liability Insurance (ELI) will cover in you in the event that something goes wrong (provided you haven’t been negligent). It is a legal requirement for any employer and you must have a policy in place by the time your employee starts work.

There are insurance providers who can offer policies designed specifically for employers of personal assistants and we can provide you with their details.

Some people decide to take out a higher level of liability insurance which includes indemnity insurance which covers them if they are taken to an employment tribunal by a member of staff (if they have followed advice correctly).

If you have a Personal Health Budget, you may be required to take out a different level of insurance that covers this.

By law, you must pay your PA at least the minimum wage rate. The rate changes every year on 1st April. Up until March 31st 2020, the minimum wage rates are as follows:

Age of Worker Hourly Rate
25 years and over £8.21
21 to 24 years old £7.70
18 to 20 years old £6.15
16 to 18 years old £4.35

If you have our payroll service, we will let you know in advance if what you are paying your staff will fall below the national minimum when it changes.

Due to amendment of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 in February 2008, all employers are now required to check all prospective employees have the right to work and live in the UK regardless of ethnicity and nationality. Before any offer of employment, a potential employee must show appropriate documentation (e.g. passport). If you are supported by Penderels Trust, we will give you a list of the documents someone can show you or visit www.gov.uk/legal-right-work-uk for more guidance. The potential employee should bring the original and a photocopy of the relevant documents to the interview.

As an employer, you cannot demand that an employee works more than 48 hours per week (averaged over 17 weeks). An employee can choose to ‘opt out’ of this restriction if they are happy to do so. You cannot force them to opt out. They can also choose to cancel their ‘opting out’ and must not be treated unfairly because of it.

Some people choose to employ a person to work for them for 7 days a week. The Working Time Directive states that all employees are legally entitled to a 24 hour rest period in any 7 days or a 48 hour rest period in any 14 days. It is really important that you make appropriate arrangements to allow your employee(s) to take their legally entitled rest breaks.

If you employ someone, you are legally required to make payments into a pension scheme for any employees who meet certain criteria (such as how much they earn and how old they are). Even if your employees do not meet the criteria, you will still need to be registered with The Pensions Regulator which is the government department that looks after auto enrolment. As an employer, The Pensions Regulator will write to you with your staging (start) date. Auto enrolment is being introduced on a rolling programme so don’t worry if you haven’t received your letter but another employer has, they simply have an earlier staging date than you.

If you use Penderels Trust payroll service, we will set up auto enrolment for your eligible employees as part of the service.

Your employee is entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave per year (which may include bank holidays). Part time workers are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year, although this may amount to fewer actual days of paid holiday than a full time worker would get. Go to www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights to work out the correct entitlement for your employee and for more information.

Most employers use 1st April to 31st March as their annual leave year. Annual leave entitlement will accrue throughout the year based on the hours your employee works.

It is your responsibility to keep a record of how many hours/days of annual leave your employee has taken. Penderels Trust has an annual leave template you can use to help with this. Please note that our Payroll Bureau does not keep records of annual leave and our officers will not be able to calculate it for you.

In the contract of employment, you should include how much notice you want your employee to give when asking for annual leave. You can ask them to take annual leave when you go on holiday but you must include this in the contract of employment. It is up to you to find alternative care when your employee is on annual leave; many employers use a care agency when their own employee is not available. It is a good idea to find an agency you like and who is able to support you before you need them.

You should not offer to pay your employee in lieu of annual leave; they should take all the leave owing to them in that year.

If your employee asks for unpaid leave, it is up to you whether you allow it or not.

Your home is your PA's place of work. This means that in the eyes of the law it must meet certain health and safety criteria. If you have 5 or more employees, you should have a written health and safety policy. Even if you only have one employee, it is good practice to have a health and safety policy statement. It is your commitment to planning and managing health and safety and shows your employees that you take their health and safety seriously.

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what could cause harm to people in their workplace so you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. The aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. If you employ five or more employees, you must record any significant findings of your assessments.

You should check that all equipment works correctly and staff are trained to use it. As well as medical equipment, such as hoists, any household items like kettles and irons should be checked if your employee uses them.

By law, you should keep an accident book and record any accidents as they happen.

If your PA is ill, they may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This is an amount of money that you, as an employer, are required to pay an employee who is too ill to work. This amount is set by the government and usually increases each year in April.

If your employee tells you they are sick, they are not paid for the first three days they are off work. If they are still off work on day 4, they may be entitled to SSP. Employees are only eligible for SSP if they earn enough money each week (please see www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for current rates).

If you have Penderels Trust payroll service, you should put ‘sick’ on the timesheet where the PA should have worked and we will calculate what sick pay you need to pay. Since April 2014, you are not able to claim back this money. If you think you won’t have enough money in your direct payment account to cover this, you should speak to your adviser or social worker.

Your PA may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if they are expecting or had a baby. This is the amount you, as an employer, are required to pay employees who are on maternity leave. This amount is set by the government and usually increases in April. Employees are only eligible for SMP if they earn over a certain amount per week (please visit www.gov.uk/statutory-maternity-pay for more information and current rates).

You will be paid the full SMP amount in a lump sum at the beginning of her maternity leave. You should then pay your PA at the time they would usually get paid (e.g. every four weeks). It is very important that you don’t give your employee all the money at once or use it for something else.

When your employee tells you she is expecting a baby, you should ask her for Form MAT B1 which will have been given to her by her doctor or midwife that provides evidence that she is pregnant. If you use Penderels Trust payroll service, you should send this form to us. You should write ‘maternity leave’ on the timesheet when she would normally have worked.

Eligible parents can now take Shared Parental Leave and Pay which allows couples to share the leave and money between them. Please visit www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay for more information).

A grievance is a problem, concern or complaint that an employee raises with an employer. Grievance procedures are designed to be used by employers to deal with such matters.

By law, you are required to provide each of your employees with a written grievance procedure. The aim is to settle a grievance fairly and quickly. It should also prevent minor disagreements from becoming more serious disputes and to enable a good working relationship between you and your employees.

You should encourage your PA to come to you with any concerns so that you can discuss them. It may be something you didn’t even realise was an issue and can be resolved quickly. It is recommended that you hold regular supervision meetings which provide your PA with the opportunity to raise anything that is bothering them.

If you cannot resolve the issue informally, you should move to the formal stages of your grievance procedure. You should always treat staff fairly and reasonably and take the matter seriously even if you don’t agree with them.

The aim of a disciplinary procedure is to maintain a standard of conduct and encourage improvement where necessary. You should include a disciplinary procedure within the Statement of Terms and Conditions that you issue to new employees and make sure that you follow that procedure. Most disciplinary procedures follow a number of stages: verbal warning, written warning, final written warning and dismissal. It is important that you follow each stage and are not tempted to miss one out. Certain behaviour may be considered as ‘Gross Misconduct’ which means employees can be suspended on full pay whilst the matter is investigated.

If you have indemnity insurance as part of your employer’s liability insurance, you must advise your insurer before you take any action if you want to be sure they will indemnify you if you end up a tribunal.

If you have a Penderels Trust Independent Living Adviser (ILA), they will be able to advise you.

As an employer, you must keep records relating to:

  • Pay rates - Payroll (tax and national insurance deductions)
  • Sickness of 4 days or more and statutory sick pay you have paid
  • Accidents, injuries or dangerous occurrences
  • Working time directive ‘opt out’ signed agreements

In addition, it is good practice to keep records relating to:

  • Application forms/interview notes for unsuccessful candidates
  • Training your PA has completed
  • Absence records including details of lateness
  • Sickness and holiday records
  • Personal details of each employee including emergency contact number -
  • Copy of the contract of employment for each
  • Details of any disciplinary action you have taken
  • Copy of documents proving the right to work in the UK

Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you have a responsibility to your employees to collect, process and store their personal data in a responsible and secure way. Please visit our Data Protection page for more information and to download our Privacy Policies.

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