Employing a personal assistant (PA) or communicator guide
This page has information on the following:
The outcome of your care and support plan may be that you need help with your personal care or support. We may assess you as being able to have a direct payment to meet your need in accordance with sections 31 to 33 of the Care Act 2014 (also known as 'the Act').
You may decide to use a personal assistant or communicator guide to meet your assessed needs.
Advantages and disadvantages Back to top
There are a number of advantages:
- you have control over what tasks are done, when and how, in line with your support plan
- you have flexibility in choosing who provides your support
- you gain long term familiarity with the person who is providing your support
- you may be able to employ someone you already know
There are also some disadvantages:
- there are a lot of responsibilities that come with being an employer
- you have to manage staff and pay their holidays, sickness, tax and national insurance contributions
- you will have to consider what cover is available for holidays and emergencies
What is a personal assistant? Back to top
This is someone who provides care or support to an individual (or group of people) in their home and/or in the community.
They may provide:
- support with personal care to help you live in your own home. For example, this may be help or prompting with daily living requirements such as:
- getting in and out of bed
- support to enable you access activities in the community such as:
- attending a support group
What is a communicator guide? Back to top
This is someone who provides support for those who need assistance with communication if you have hearing and/or visual sensory loss.
It may be that a communicator guide performs a solely administrative role or that of an interpreter and does not provide any personal care or support. However, it may be that as well as providing administrative and/or interpreting support, the communicator guide also provides help or prompting with personal care and/or support.
The nature of the service the communicator guide provides may mean they are able to work from their own home.
Can I employ a friend or family member? Back to top
Your personal assistant or communicator guide may be someone that you know. This could be a family member or a friend.
They should not be someone living in the same household except in exceptional circumstances.
You may choose to advertise for a suitable person.
Bear in mind that if you employ a family member who was already acting as your carer on an unpaid basis, they may no longer receive any related benefits that they claimed, such as carer’s allowance. They would also lose access to any support services that they were receiving from their local authority as an unpaid carer.
It is important to remember that when you recruit and employ staff you (or your representative) are the employer.
Your practitioner will explain to you the implications of becoming an employer. You should be aware what your role as an employer entails and what is expected of you as an employer before you start to receive your direct payment.
These rules are to protect you and your personal assistant or communicator guide.
You would be responsible for:
- recruiting your own staff, including advertising and interviewing
- all legal requirements that go with employing staff
- making sure that you treat staff fairly
- ensuring that your staff have the right to work in the UK
- paying your staff a fair wage, which is equal to or above the national living wage
- ensuring that your staff are able to take annual leave and receive statutory sick pay if they are entitled to it
- arranging your own cover for when your staff are on annual leave or off sick
- looking after the health and safety of your staff, whilst they are at work for you
- paying any necessary tax and national insurance contributions. Ensuring that all of your staff payroll is declared to HMRC correctly
- offering all members of staff the option to join a Workplace Pension Scheme (where eligible). The support service provider will be able to help you with this
- informing your staff that any benefits they are currently receiving may be affected by the salary they earn
Please find below an example PA timesheet that you can print out which can help you with employing your own PA.
The PA hourly rate calculator calculates the suggested hourly rate payable as a guide based on the information you provide. We are not liable for any claims made by you or your staff relating to the information provided.
For assistance calculating holiday entitlement, a tool is available on the government's website, calculate holiday entitlement (select full year entitlement if information is being used to populate calculator below).
Calculated maximum pay
Maximum rate if your PA...
...does not have a pension
...pays their pension directly from their wage
...pays into a private pension and claims tax relief
Note: If you pay the maximum rate there will be no room to increase the pay to your PA.
If your PA has worked for you for 2 years or more you should follow advice provided by Gov.UK about redundancy.
If you have any questions or require further support please contact us.
You need a contract of employment between yourself and the member of staff.
They are legally entitled to a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within 2 calendar months of starting work, even if they are a casual or zero hour employee. This statement should include details of things such as:
If the contract is for a casual or zero hour employee, you will need to make sure the contract outlines what they are and are not entitled to such as:
- entitlements to holiday pay
- if they are employed on an ad hoc basis
If you need to change the contract because the pay or hours the PA works have changed you should also make sure that you update your contract of employment. There is help available to advise you what you need to do on the Gov.UK website. Also you can contact your employers liability insurance company who can give you help and advice too, depending upon the level of cover you have.
You must have a job description. This outlines the personal assistant or communicator guide’s duties.
Employers’ liability insurance
Make sure you have up-to-date employers’ liability insurance in place and that you comply with all legal requirements.
Complete all necessary risk assessments.
You must consider any necessary training.
For example, if your personal assistant is responsible for lifting or moving you then they must have moving and handling training.
You may want to refer to Skills for Care for information and advice.
If your staff are using their own vehicle to take you out, they must have business cover included in their car insurance.
We recommend that you ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
You will need to request a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
You can find a list of organisations that can carry out checks on Staffordshire Connects.
This is important, even if your personal assistant or communicator guide is someone you know such as a family member or friend.
You can pay for this from your direct payments account.
What will I have to pay for from my direct payment? Back to top
The following must be paid for from your direct payment:
- employee tax and national insurance contributions (unless your employee is earning below the personal allowance tax threshold. However, please note that you will still need to register your PA with HMRC)
- holiday pay (each staff member is legally entitled to 5.6 weeks per year, which the direct payment will fund within the hourly rate payable)
- employers’ liability insurance. We allow up to a maximum of £90.00 per year to be paid from the direct payment account for this. We can make a one-off payment to fund this insurance for the first year only, if necessary. In subsequent years the renewal cost should be building up from the PA rate that is paid. You must ensure that you purchase this every year
- cost of a payroll service unless you are doing your own payroll
You may also have to pay:
- employers’ national insurance contributions. This applies when your employee is earning above a certain amount
- workplace pension contributions, if applicable
- statutory sick pay, this depends on eligibility
- training costs. We may be able to make additional one off payments where necessary. This will need to be approved by your allocated practitioner
- cost of materials such as gloves or aprons
- if, after being in post for 2 years or more, your circumstances change you may have to withdraw the personal assistant or communicator guide role. For example, you went into permanent residential care. You would have to give them a statutory redundancy package
What additional records do I have to keep? Back to top
Keep the following:
- a copy of any signed contracts and job descriptions
- details of annual leave taken and the employee's remaining annual leave entitlement
- details of periods of sickness
- evidence of employers' liability insurance
- any evidence relating to interviews and recruitment process
What if my personal assistant or communicator guide is self-employed? Back to top
We strongly recommend against using self-employed personal assistants or communicator guides.
We would recommend that you ask the self-employed workers for a copy of their Public Liability insurance, enhanced DBS, and a copy of HMRC UTR number to confirm their self-employment status.
If you would like to speak to someone regarding this and you already employ other staff and have employers liability insurance, please contact your Employer Liability Insurer as legal advice may be covered in your policy.
If you don't employ anyone and therefore don't have Employers Liability Insurance, Skills for Care has lots of useful information regarding this which is available here .
Please ensure that your PA has completed the HMRC status indicator tool correctly to ensure that their employment status is correct. If their status is incorrect, you may be found responsible for any tax and/or National Insurance payable.
Can I employ someone living in the same house as me? Back to top
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, and you would need to discuss these with your social care professional who will complete a form to share with us, your PA should not be someone living in the same house as you.
Further considerations Back to top
Set out what is expected
It is good practice before your PA begins employment to set out what is expected of them, for example if you take regular respite, would you expect your PA to take their annual leave at this time.
If you are in hospital
If you are admitted to hospital, your PA would be entitled to 4 weeks at full pay and two weeks at half pay. After this refer to the social work team.
Notice to end a contract
By law, if your PA has worked for you for longer than one month, you will need to give them notice if you need to end their contact. We will only provide funding for statutory notice periods.
If your PA has worked for you for 2 years or more you should follow advice provided by gov.uk about redundancy.
Disciplinary and grievance
If problems arise in your working relationship, please contact your employer liability insurance provider for advice and support. There is a disciplinary and grievance procedure should this be required.
Under the Equality Act it is unlawful to discriminate against people who have ‘protected characteristics’. These are:
- marriage and civil partnership
An example of direct discrimination would be not hiring someone because they are pregnant.
Normally most staff should not have to work on average more than 48 hours per week unless they agree to do so. Please ensure this agreement (if applicable) is documented in writing.
Be aware of the working time regulations which state what breaks staff are legally entitled to.
Health and safety
You have a legal responsibility to make sure that your staff remain safe and healthy whilst doing their job. This could involve carrying out risk assessments and ensuring your staff are appropriately trained.
Should you become a ‘self funder’ (someone who has been financially assessed as being able to pay for all of their care privately) you will be required to fund all aspects of the related costs and the costs of the personal assistant or communicator guide, if you still require one.
Contracts and employment advice Back to top
Contract templates and employment advice
For contract templates or employment advice see the Acas website or call 0300 123 1100
Contracts and employing a PA
Skills for Care can help you with contracts and employing a PA.
If you are a customer of Fish Insurance or Mark Bates Insurance they can also help you with employment and legal advice.
For employment legalisation see the Gov.UK site
Queries about pay
For pay related queries please see the HM Revenue and Customs pages.
Direct payments team
For direct payments enquiries, please contact us direct.
Social work teams
For all other social work enquiries, please contact Staffordshire Cares.