Many people choose to hire a personal assistant or carer for themselves or for a family member, instead of going through an agency to hire care. Hiring a personal assistant can be a tremendous help with living a more independent life, and providing respite for family members who may have previously taken on that carer role.
Whether you are employing a personal assistant privately with your own funds, or via direct payments, it’s important that you are aware of the steps and regulations you are expected to follow in your role as an employer.
Here are some helpful tips and information for employing a carer or personal assistant.
Hiring a personal assistant
Care workers who work directly for you rather than through an agency or self-employment are usually considered to be the employee of the person hiring them (i.e. you or the family member who is assisting you in hiring care.
You might hire a personal assistant through a number of routes:
- Private home employment (i.e. hiring a self-employed personal assistant or carer using your own funds or those of a family member you are hiring care for)
- Using direct payments (many people receiving direct payments choose to hire their own care with these payments rather than going through an agency)
What can a personal assistant/private carer do for you?
First, it’s important to know exactly what your personal assistant can do for you. Of course, everyone will need assistance and support with slightly different things, so your first step is to make a list of the things you would ideally like your PA to assist you with and check that whoever you are hiring is capable of that.
In short, a private carer’s role is to provide the extra support you need to be able to live as independently as possible in your home. Tasks a personal care assistant may be able to assist you with include:
- Preparing meals
- Help with getting to appointments
- Driving you/helping you to get around
- Assistance with your medication (read what healthcare tasks are covered by insurance)
- Personal care (washing, dressing, getting to the bathroom etc)
- Providing respite for family members that may also care for you
The role of your personal assistant could be part-time or full-time, dependent on your needs. Regardless of the hours they work, hiring a private carer automatically classifies you as an employer.
Of course, if you or the person you are hiring care for has more specialist needs, you may need to specify the particular qualifications you PA needs.
Your responsibilities to your personal assistant
Whatever the circumstances by which you hire a carer or personal assistant, if you have hired an individual directly then you are considered an employer by law. As such, you have certain responsibilities to your employee.
The person named as the personal assistant’s employer may be the person in need of care themselves, or a family member/guardian acting on their behalf.
Employers have several responsibilities toward their employees. Here are a few things you should consider before hiring a caregiver.
What do I need to provide to my employees when hiring?
To ensure your employee has a comfortable and safe start to their employment with you, make sure you have everything in place. This includes:
- An employment contract: This should outline their job title, hours of work, place of work, salary, holiday entitlement, sickness, pension, and any notice periods or disciplinary action
- Maximum hours: It’s your responsibility to ensure that your employee is not working more than the maximum hours allowed per week, which is 48 hours in the UK as of 2022.
- Wage: You need to guarantee that your employees payslips pay them at least National Minimum Wage.
A number of other workplace rights may be available to your employee, depending on their eligibility requirements:
- Statutory maternity pay
- Statutory sick pay
- Redundancy pay
- The workplace pension scheme
- Holiday pay
In order to ensure your employee’s health and well-being, you need to know exactly what you should offer and to whom. We’ll cover all of these sections below.
Hiring your PA
Whether you are employing a carer for yourself or on behalf of someone, you may be eligible for direct payments. If you require care and support services, you will be assessed by social services as to whether you can receive direct payments which can then be arranged to go directly to your employee i.e. your carer.
Read more about applying for Direct Payments and how you’ll be assessed for this.
Direct payments: quick tips
- If you are paying for your own care via direct payments, you might create your own payroll or outsource this to someone else – you will need to register if you wish to do this yourself
- You must make sure that any potential employee is legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom
- Ensure that your potential employee has been checked by the Disclosure & Barring Service
Hiring your carer independently
You may already know someone who is a registered carer that you would like to employ as your carer, in which case you could hire them independently. Alternatively, you could advertise the role with a job board such as Indeed.com, or use a recruitment agency to assist you in finding the right person.
If you do choose to hire a personal assistant independently using your direct payments, you should know that there are limitations to who you can hire. As a general rule, regulations prevent you from employing cohabiting family members, including your spouse or partner, or any relatives who live in your home. Note that exceptions can be made by your local authority.
Using a home-care agency
A home-care agency employs trained and qualified carers to visit you in your home. The advantage to using a home-care agency is that the agency will often handle the employer responsibilities for you, such as pay, tax, holiday pay etc, with you only needing to pay the agency directly each month.
The negative, however, is that you have less control over who provides your care. It’s unlikely that you’ll always have the same carer through an agency, and you might not be able to agree on the exact hours of care that suit you best. We would recommend researching several agencies before going down this route to make sure you find the right fit for you.
Insurance for PA’s and carers
Among other things you’ll need to think about when hiring a Personal Assistant is insurance. Here, we’ll cover what insurance you need, and what you may like to consider to protect you (or the person receiving care), your employee, and other members of the public.
You might also want to read: why carers need insurance.
Employers Liability Insurance
All employers in the UK are required by law to have employers liability insurance in order to protect both the service users, the personal assistant/carer, and other members of the public from unexpected incidents, injury, or damage to property.
Specifically, employers liability insurance covers you in the case of your employee bringing a claim against you due to an injury, illness, or the loss/damage of their property.
Our home employment insurance and direct payments insurance bundles employers liability cover in with a number of other elements that are highly recommended for anyone hiring their own care. This includes:
- Public liability: Cover for you and your employee against a wider range of claims in connection with their work, such as accidental injury, accidental damage to your carer’s property, or accidental injury to a third party. These claims cover you whether they’re made by you, your employee, or a member of the public.
- Legal expenses: Covers the potential cost of defending your legal rights in court as a result of an insured event. You’ll also have access to a 24/7 legal advice helpline and an employment manual that provides guidance (and updates) on employment law.
Provided your carer is qualified, our carers insurance policies cover a wide array of healthcare tasks as standard, too.
Working eligibility requirements
If you choose to hire a personal assistant directly, you will need to check their eligibility to work in the UK.
In order to do this, ask to check the people you interview’s passports or ID to confirm they’re a resident of the UK, from the European Economic Area (EEA), or have a visa that means they are eligible to work in the UK.
Tax and National Insurance payments
While you do not run a company, it is still important to ensure your staff undergoes the appropriate checks, receives the correct pay, and is taxed properly. As an employer, you are responsible for conducting these assessments.
If your PA is your employee, you will need to deduct tax and NIC on any payments you issue them under the PAYE system. Read this guide to running payroll for more information.
Paying your employee
It is between you and your employee how much you pay them for their services. You will need to ensure, however, that you are paying them at least the national minimum wage.
Here are the current National Minimum Wage brackets as of April 2022 and for April 2023.
|April 2022 Rates||April 2023|
|National Living Wage||£9.50||£10.42|
|21 – 22 Year Old Rate||£9.18||£10.18|
|18 – 20 Year Old Rate||£6.83||£7.49|
|16 – 17 Year Old Rate||£4.81||£5.28|
Statutory Sick Pay: how much is it and what are the eligibility criteria?
Your employee is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £99.35 per week, if they have completed some work for you whilst being employed, earn a minimum of £113 per week (before tax), and have been ill for at least four days in a row (including weekends and non-working days).
Your employee will not be eligible for SSP if they have already received the maximum amount from you, which is 28 weeks, or if they are currently receiving Statutory Maternity Pay.
Statutory annual leave (holiday) entitlement
Full-time workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year (28 days). A part-time worker will have their statutory annual leave issued pro-rata to the hours they work per week.
Employes can choose whether or not to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave.
Statutory maternity leave: what is my employee entitled to?
If your employee is pregnant, they may be entitled to statutory maternity leave when the baby is born. Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) consists of ‘ordinary maternity leave’, which is 26 weeks and ‘additional maternity leave’, which is another 26 weeks, totally 52 weeks.
Employees are paid SMP for up to 39 weeks. GOV.UK states that the amount your employee is paid works out as:
• 90% of their average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
• £156.66 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
Other things you may want to keep in mind that any employees going on maternity leave:
- Ensure you pay your employee for any time off they take for ante-natal classes – this is a legal entitlement for pregnant women.
- Make sure that their work does not pose a health and safety risk to them, for example, lifting anything heavy.
- Confirm your employee’s maternity leave dates with them- your employee is required to disclose this information no later than 15 weeks before their baby is due.
- Work out what pay they are entitled to during their leave (for example, Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance for self-employed workers)
This guide provides a useful overview of maternity leave, pay, and other rights for employees. The government website has a helpful employer guide for navigating SMP and what your employee is entitled to.
Disciplinary procedures for employers
In some situations, unfortunately you may need to bring disciplinary action against your Personal Assistant. For example, if you (either as the service user or as a family member/guardian for the person being provided with care) feel that your employee is not meeting health and safety standards.
A disciplinary procedure is an understandably sensitive topic, and it’s important to handle this sensitively. This step-by-step guide to disciplinary procedures for managers covers some key factors you might like to know, including:
- Why to have a disciplinary procedure
- What a disciplinary procedure looks like
- Investigating an allegation of misconduct
- Next steps
We provide redundancy cover on all our direct payments insurance policies, up to £7,000 on our Gold cover.
If you are in a situation in which you need to make your personal assistant redundant (for example, if you are moving into a care home and no longer need a care at home), you will be responsible for any redundancy payments they are due. If you are in this situation, it may be best to contact your account or direct payments authority first.
What happens when your employee resigns?
As the employer of a Personal Assistant, you may also face the situation in which your carer resigns from their position. A few basic procedures to follow here include:
- Asking your employee for written notice of their resignation
- Having an ‘end of contract’ interview to ask your employee if they have any grievances
- Confirm your employees notice period with them and agree their leaving date
- Ensure your employee receives the correct pay (including holiday pay) when their employment ends
Certifications & Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
Personal care assistants are not regulated, and therefore do not have to be registered carers unlike if they were working with an agency.
With that said, it would be a good idea to check for yourself that they have the relevant training to provide the appropriate level of care you need. For example, professional private carers should have QCF and NVQ qualifications which include training in providing personal care, as well as lifting/manual handling.
You might also want to make sure that anyone you are interviewing has undergone a criminal record check via the DBS.
Getting help with hiring your PA
For some people, the extra responsibilities that come with organising and hiring your own personal assistant can be quite overwhelming.
If you are using direct payments to hire personal care, you can entrust a friend or family member to be your ‘nominated person’, and help you manage the finance and employment responsibilities that come with hiring a carer.
If you are hiring a carer with your own money, using a care agency can be a good way of finding quality care that suits your needs, without needing to worry about the extra responsibilities of agreeing on a contract with a direct employee, as well as things like organising tax for your employee.
Employing personal assistants resources:
- Skills fo rCare provide a highly informative toolkit to employing personal assistants: Before Your PA Starts & Employing personal assistants
- Curam Care is the UK’s leading online source of private carers, allowing you or your family member to post a job, review applications, hire vetted and insured carers, and arrange their payment all in one place.
- CarersUK provides an in-depth guide into applying for direct payments including who direct payments are open to, and how to apply for them.
- Money Helper: Arranging and Paying for Care. A guide to paying for your care services with direct payments.
- Surewise – This guides on Home employment insurance and Insurance for those employing carers: why is it important? provide more insight into the different types of insurance you might need as an employer of a personal assistant. Our policies make sure you’re fully covered when employing a carer or personal assistant in your own home.