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Have you visited our virtual PA Community Centre?

Created by Penderels Trust, the PA Community Centre is a website that is packed full of information and resources and is just for personal assistants (PAs).  With so much information available online, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find what you need. We've done the hard work for you and brought together some great resources that we think you'll be interested in as a PA or if you are thinking of becoming a PA. Come and visit us today at www.allaboutpas.org.uk

Being a Personal Assistant

This section is all about personal assistants (PAs).  Whether you are an employer looking for the right PA for you or someone wanting a career as a PA, you've come to the right place. In this section, you can access our PA Finder service (our online register of PAs who are looking for work in your area) and our PA Jobs area (jobs that have been posted by employers currently seeking a new PA).

If you are a PA, see below for some useful links and information to help you in your job role, such as where to access more training or how to get help if you have an issue with employment.

Thinking about becoming a PA? If you are a caring person with a real empathy for others, this may be the career choice for you. We always have employers who are looking for the right person to meet their care and support needs - this could be you! Whilst caring experience is always useful, you don't necessarily need to have worked in care to be a great PA, the right attitude and a person-centred approach is more important. 

There's lots of information available about working in social care and we think the Job Centre Plus 'jobhelp' website is a good place to begin. It’s filled with information about job roles, vacancies and safe working practices to help you decide what’s right for you! Check it out here: https://jobhelp.campaign.gov.uk/sectors-recruiting/adult-social-care/

If you would like to hear more about working as a PA, watch our video to hear what others have to say. See below for answers to the questions we are commonly asked by PAs or people wanting to be a PA.

30 second: A job to be proud of from Every day makes a difference on Vimeo.

As a personal assistant (or PA for short), you will be employed directly by an individual with a disability or long term health condition who needs support to live independently.

You will work closely with the individual you support and their home will usually be your place of work although you may be required to support your employer when they go out. As each person is different, the role of each PA is very different. The job advertisement and job description provided by the employer should give you a good idea of the tasks they will expect you to do and the type of support they need. You can find more on this topic on the Skills for Care information hub in Being a PA.

Whilst experience of providing care and support, whether as a paid job or for someone in your family, can be helpful, it is not essential.

Having the right type of values and skills is much more important. Do you have good communication skills? Are you understanding and kind? Are you responsible and reliable? If so, you could be a great PA.

The job advert and description should state if any specific experience is required.

Finding the right person to work for is really important. Penderels Trust supports many individual employers and they use our website to advertise their vacancies.

Please click on PA Jobs on the top right hand side of this page and follow the instructions to find jobs in your area. You can apply online or download a copy of the application form. You can also look on the main job websites like Indeed, Reed and Total Jobs as well as visiting your local Job Centre Plus.

In some areas, we have an online register of PAs looking for a job. If this service is offered in your area, you will see information on it on the right hand side of this page. If you are a PA looking for work, why not register with PA Finder?

It is free of charge and your profile will be visible to employers in your area. You can also use your PA Finder profile to complete our online PA Job application form to save you typing the information twice. Only employers who are registered with us can see your information.

Penderels Trust does not employ PAs directly. We support individual employers to find the right PA and meet their legal responsibilities.

Penderels Trust may support the employer in the application and interview process and they may provide your pay slip but it is important to remember your employer is the person you support not Penderels Trust or the local authority.

Neither you nor the person you support can choose if you are self-employed or not. The person you are going to work for might prefer you to be self-employed as it can seem a lot easier. They need to check if the job they want you to do means you should be employed or self-employed. In our experience, most PAs should be employed. If you want to check, ask your potential employer to go to www.gov.uk/guidance/employment-status-indicator. They can be fined if they don't apply the right employment status and as a PA, you could miss out on valuable benefits such as paid annual leave, auto enrolment into a workplace pension and statutory benefits such as sick pay or maternity pay.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). We recommend to all employers we support that they should get a DBS check for a potential employee. If you are going to be working with a child, it is a legal requirement to have a DBS check.

Yes. Just because you are working for one person in their own home, the laws around employment remain the same. By law, your employer must give you a contract of employment on your first day of work. Penderels Trust may support your employer by providing a template they can use to help them with this. If you are not happy with anything within the contract, you should speak to your employer in the first instance.

Most employers use a payroll bureau, like Penderels Trust, to calculate your pay and provide information to HMRC.

You will be required to complete a timesheet (this may be on paper or electronically on your smartphone or a computer) showing the hours you have worked. Your employer should check, sign and submit the timesheet within the deadline given by the payroll bureau. You must receive a pay slip by law; this may be emailed to you. You must be paid at least the minimum wage rate. Current rates can be found at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates.

If you meet certain criteria (age and amount of money you earn), by law your employer must offer you a workplace pension (this is sometimes called auto enrolment). If your employer uses Penderels Trust’s payroll bureau, they will automatically be included in our auto enrolment scheme and we will tell them if they need to provide a pension scheme for you.

Your employer will let you know if this happens and will give you information on what they will pay into the scheme and what you need to pay. You can choose to opt out, but you should get advice on this. For more general information on workplace pensions, visit www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions.

This depends on the tasks you need to do in your role. For some PA jobs, no formal training is required. Your employer should spend time with you discussing what tasks you need to do and how they would like you to do them. For some roles, you may require a specific qualification such as moving and handling or food hygiene.

Completing a training course does take time and usually costs money. Your employer can apply for funding from Skills for Care to cover the full cost (including travel and personal assistant cover expenses) of care related training. The funding can be used for short courses and full qualifications. As a PA, you could highlight this funding to your employer and, if necessary, support them to complete an application form. For more information about the funding, visit www.skillsforcare.org/individualemployerfunding.

It should say in your contract of employment how many days (or hours) annual leave you are entitled to but you are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks 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 for more information on this. It is the responsibility of your employer to keep a record of how many days or hours annual leave you have taken as it is not possible for the payroll bureau to be able to calculate this. It is a good idea if you keep a record too.

Your employer does not have to approve your request for annual leave. Always book your annual leave with them before you book your holiday.

Your contract of employment may also say how much notice you need to give before you go on holiday. Your annual leave entitlement will accrue throughout the year based on the hours you work. Most of the employers supported by Penderels Trust run their annual leave year from 1st April to 31st March.

Due to the nature of the role, your employer may want you to go on annual leave at the same time as they go on holiday. They should include this in your contract of employment.

It is up to them to find alternative care whilst you are away.

Your employer should not offer to pay you in lieu of annual leave. You should always take all annual leave in that year; being a PA is a demanding and often stressful role and you will need the break.

If you need to take unpaid leave, you should ask your employer. They may agree it but they don’t have to.

As with any job, you will be entitled to statutory sick pay. This is paid when you have been sick for 4 or more days (including non-working days). The current statutory sick pay rate can be found at www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay. After 7 days, you will need to get a ‘fit note’ from the doctor; you should give a copy to your employer and keep the original yourself.

Your employer should have a plan in place in case you are sick. You should contact them as soon as you know you will be off sick. Most employers will require you to ring them before your start time, not just send a text.

If you are pregnant, you may be eligible for statutory maternity pay depending on how many hours you work and how long you have worked for your employer. For eligibility and pay rates, go to https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave

You will qualify for statutory maternity leave no matter how many hours you work or how long you have worked for your employer as long as you are employed by them and given them the correct notice.

You need to tell your employer that you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before your due date. Your midwife or doctor will give you a Form MATB1 which you should give to your employer as medical evidence of your pregnancy.

Your employer should undertake a risk assessment as soon as you tell them that you are pregnant and review the risks regularly during your pregnancy. There may be certain tasks that you can no longer do e.g. those that involve heavy lifting.

If your partner is pregnant, you may be entitled to paternity leave. Please visit www.gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave for more information.

Under the EU Working Time Directive, you should not work more than an average of 48 hours per week. You can, however, choose to opt out of this. Your employer may ask you to opt out, but they cannot force you to or sack you for not opting out.

If you agree to opt out, you will be asked to sign an agreement to this effect. It can be for a fixed period of time or indefinitely. You can choose to opt back in at any time but you may have to give up to 3 months notice of this (depending on what was in your written opt out agreement).

As a person with disabilities or a long term health condition, your employer is a vulnerable person. If you think your employer is at risk of abuse, you have a duty of care to report it to the safeguarding team at your local authority. It is better to report a suspicion even if it turns out to be nothing. Many local authorities offer safeguarding training, it is good to attend one of these sessions if you can.

The very nature of the PA/employer working relationship means that you may well get to know your employer very well and care about them as a friend as well as employer. Whilst this makes work a pleasure, it is still a job and it is very important that you maintain professional boundaries at all times. Be friendly but not friends. Avoid socialising out of work and if you see your employer when you are out and about, let them make contact first. It is advisable not to have contact on social media. We advise employers not to give their PAs valuable gifts or cash as a thank you.

Sometimes things go wrong at work. In the first instance, it is best to talk to your employer and discuss your concerns. It may be that they didn’t realise you weren’t happy and will rectify the problem straight away. If you think you are being treated unfairly and your employer doesn’t agree or won’t fix the problem, visit the ACAS website (www.acas.org.uk) for information. You can also speak to someone at ACAS if you need further support.

Skills for Care (for training and development of employers and workers in the care sector): www.skillsforcare.org.uk

Public Sector Information Website (for all government information): www.gov.uk

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services (ACAS) (for work related advice and support): www.acas.org.uk

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) (training and learning resources for social care sector): www.scie.org.uk

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