Becoming a Personal Assistant - Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a Personal Assistant?

    Some adults need help to carry out every day activities, it may be because they have general health problems or a physical or learning disability, and it could be because they have hearing or sight problems or because they are simply getting older and finding life a bit more difficult. Daily tasks like getting washed and dressed can be difficult for some but in some cases people just need help with getting out and about, going to the gym, the pictures or even just down to the pub.

    These people often need to use the Council's care and support services and we refer to them as customers. A Personal Assistant (PA) is someone who is paid to help customers in any aspect of their day to day life. In most cases they are employed by the customer who will pay tax and National Insurance contributions for them.  A PA employed by the customer has employment rights and is entitled to holidays and sick pay. The terms and conditions of work such as start and finish times and hours of work are agreed with the customer at the start of the employment just like in any other job.

    Please remember, a Personal Assistant is employed by the customer or a family member/representative, not Derby City Council or Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct).

  • How will the Personal Assistant Register help me?

    The Personal Assistant Register is a unique scheme developed by Derby City Council and Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct). It offers the chance for new and potential personal assistants to access a greater chance of finding employment, free advertising and it is free to access.

  • Will I have to give my full name and address on the website?

    We will be publishing your full name, your contact telephone and email address to enable customers to contact you directly. We will not be publishing addresses on the website.

    Other information made available is:

    • telephone number and location in which you are available to work
    • date of your Disclosure and Barring Service check if you have one (previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau check)
    • relevant  training and qualifications undertaken
    • availability
    • approximate charges.
  • What is the Disclosure and Barring Service?

    The primary role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau) is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially that involve children or vulnerable adults.

    Applicants who undergo the checks are not entitled to withhold information about convictions which for other purposes are 'spent' under the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offender Act 1974, and in the event of employment, any failure to disclose such convictions could result in dismissal or disciplinary action.

    From 1st April 2013, only Personal Assistants with a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check will be able to offer Regulated Activities.

    Regulated Activites include:

    • Personal care
    • Medication
    • Childcare/supervision
    • Shopping
    • Escorting to appointments
    • Preparing meals - but only if this includes helping to feed you
    • Transport - but only if this is to hospital or medical appointments.

    If you do not offer any of the Regulated Activities you are not required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.

  • Do I have to have a Disclosure and Barring Service check?

    No, you do not need an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check unless you are providing any of the Regulated Activities.

    If we are made aware that you are providing a Regulated Activity without having had an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check, you will be in breach of the terms and conditions for the personal assistant register and your name and details will be removed from the website.

    Regulated Activites include:

    • Personal care
    • Medication
    • Childcare/supervision
    • Shopping
    • Escorting to appointments
    • Preparing meals - but only if this includes helping to feed you
    • Transport - but only if this is to hospital or medical appointments.
  • How do I go about getting a Disclosure and Barring Service check?

    If you are considering joining the Personal Assistant register on our website, you will need to tell us if you have had an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (previously known as a Criminal Records Bureau check) in the last three years.

    If you carry out any of the Regulated Activities, you must either provide evidence that you have had an enhanced check carried out in the last three years or apply to have a new check carried out.

    If you have evidence of an enhanced check, you will need to present your documents to the Personal Assistant Register Co-ordinator at Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct).

    If you do not have a current enhanced check and you would like one carried out, we can arrange this for you. You can telephone the Councils Human Resources Department on 01332 640844 and make an appointment to see an advisor who will go through the process with you. The current cost for a DBS check is £40, there is also a £15 Council administration fee.

    Regulated Activities include:

    • Personal care
    • Medication
    • Childcare/supervision
    • Shopping
    • Escorting to appointments
    • Preparing meals - but only if this includes helping to feed you
    • Transport - but only if this is to hospital or medical appointments.
  • Do I need to have specialist insurance?

    If you are using your car for work purposes, you will need to ensure you have Business Use as part of your insurance cover.

  • Do I need experience?

    Experience of this type of work is an advantage but is not essential.  What makes a good personal assistant is the ability to get on well with people, to empathise with their situation and be able to offer the right level of support to suit individual needs.

  • How do I apply for a position?

    You don’t.  The Register does not advertise vacancies. It enables PA’s to advertise their skills and availability to become a PA for a customer. Once you are registered any customer searching for a PA can contact you directly.

    You can register by completing this form.

  • Am I guaranteed a position?

    Unfortunately no.  However registering with us will maximise your potential as a PA depending on your skills and availability.  Anyone requiring a PA can access the Register to potentially gain your services.

  • Am I self-employed?

    You may have made the decision to become a self-employed PA, but this does not necessarily mean you are in the eyes of the Inland Revenue or under employment law.  Your self-employed status in regards to payment of Tax is made by HMRC (Inland Revenue). Even if you are registered in one role as self-employed, does not necessarily mean you will be in your new role as a PA.  You will need to contact HMRC about each role for clarification.  You can check your employment status at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/esi.htm

  • What are my responsibilities as a self-employed Personal Assistant?

    Firstly you have to register with HMRC and get your UTR number (Unique Tax Reference).  You have to submit your self-assessment return (SAR) within government directive deadlines and pay your own tax and national insurance contributions.  Further information is available on the HMRC website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/

    Your responsibilities to the person you are providing support for will also need to be considered.

    You are considered to be a self-employed person because:

    • you run a business as a self employed person
    • you will complete work for more than one customer
    • you will do your own tax and NI deductions
    • you will invoice your client for work carried out
    • you will have your own public liability insurance
    • you will provide references when requested
    • you will source and pay for your own training
    • you may also provide major pieces of equipment needed to do the job
    • you will usually agree your terms and conditions of services and sign a service contract.
  • Do I have to be self-employed?

    No.  Most people who require PA’s are already registered as employers with the Inland Revenue.  If you become employed directly by a customer, you will not be required to pay your own tax or NI and you may also be entitled to statutory payments such as sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay etc.  You will also be entitled 5.6 weeks (pro rata) paid annual leave a year.

    This generally means the rate of pay is less than a self-employed PA can charge as the employer has to take these costs into consideration.

  • Do I need to join a workplace pension?

    The 2008 Pensions Act changed the law on workplace pensions. Starting from 2012 to 2018, all employers will be legally required to automatically enrol eligible staff (including personal assistants) into a pension scheme and make on-going contributions to the scheme. Eligible works are those aged from 22 to state pension age and earning more than £10,000 a year. This duty includes individuals that employ workers for their own care and support.

    The Department for Work and Pensions website has more information for you as an employee.

  • How will I get paid?

    You will be paid by the customer.

  • Can I work for more than one customer?

    Yes.  It is possible for someone to have more than one job so there is no reason why you can’t work for two or more customers at any one time.  You may be paid different rates from different employers.  The Personal Assistant Register is flexible so you can let potential employers know which days or parts of days you are available and fit this work around your own life.

  • Why is it important that the customer knows about my hobbies and services I offer?

    Customers will be looking for people to be as flexible as possible to provide a wide range of services. If there is a particular service you feel you can offer you can specify that on the website (for example, shopping or dog walking services).  This way the customer will know what you are able to offer help with.  It may be that later you decide you could offer more and we can change your website entry as your circumstances change.

    PAs may be asked to do any number of duties including things like:

    • personal care - helping someone have a shower, get washed and dressed
    • cleaning and housework
    • shopping services
    • meal preparation or cooking in the home
    • going out, such as to the pub, theatre, cinema, gym or shopping
    • leisure and recreational activities, such as craft clubs or evening classes
    • gardening
    • taxi/transport services
    • dog walking.
  • Can I change or remove my entry on the Register?

    Once you have submitted your form, you will not be able to make any changes yourself.  If you require any changes to be made or if you would like your details removed either permanently or temporarily, contact the Personal Assistant Register Coordinator at Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct) on 01332 404040.

  • What training can I access through the scheme?

    Through the scheme you can access a training programme provided by the council.  It will give you the skills and confidence you need to carry out your job effectively and will also ensure that you know what to do in an emergency or who to contact if there are any problems. There will be a charge for courses you attend.

    Training will also help to protect you from injury as we will show you the correct way of helping someone to stand up for example so that you don’t put yourself in any danger. 

    Your training will give you a good basic overall knowledge of Social Care work so if you choose to go on and study further you will already have a basic knowledge.

    PAs do not get paid by Derby City Council to attend training.