Employing a personal assistant (PA) or communicator guide
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.
- 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 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?
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
- food preparation
- Support to enable you access activities in the community such as:
- pursuing a hobby
- attending a support group.
What is a communicator guide?
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?
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.
You as an employer
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.
Calculating the PA Hourly Rate
The PA Hourly Rate Calculator calculates the suggested hourly rate payable as a guide based on the information you provide. Staffordshire County Council is 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 main government website, calculate holiday entitlement (select full year entitlement if information is being used to populate calculator below).
Maximum Pay £:
Note: If you pay the maximum rate there will be no room to increase the pay to your PA.
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:
- working hours
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
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?
- The employee's net pay.
- 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. Staffordshire County Council and partners 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 is depending 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?
- A copy of any signed contracts and job descriptions.
- Copies of payslips.
- Details of annual leave taken and the employee’s remaining annual leave entitlement.
- Detail of periods of sickness.
- Detail of payroll costs.
- HMRC payment book or details of on-line payments.
- Evidence of employers’ liability insurance.
- Any evidence relating to interviews and recruitment process.
What if my personal assistant or communicator guide is self-employed?
We strongly recommend against using self-employed personal assistants or communicator guides.
If you would like to speak to someone regarding this, please contact the Direct Payments team.
Can I employ someone living in the same house as me?
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 the council – your PA should not be someone living in the same house as you.
- 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 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.
- 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. Staffordshire County Council and Partners will only provide funding for statutory notice periods.
- 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 age, disability, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, and sex. 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.
- 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.
To contact the Direct Payments team:
Phone: 01785 854493
For social work teams please contact Staffordshire Cares:
Phone: 0300 111 8010
Contracts and employment advice