Employing 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 you have general health problems or a physical or learning disability, and it could be because you have hearing or sight problems or because you 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 you just need help with getting out and about, going to the gym, the pictures or even just down to the pub.

    A Personal Assistant (PA) is someone who is paid to help you in any aspect of your day to day life. In most cases they are employed by you and you will pay tax and National Insurance contributions for them. A Personal Assistant employed by you 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 you at the start of the employment just like in any other job.

    Personal assistants can be employed by you the customer or a family member/representative, not Derby City Council or Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct).

  • What is the Personal Assistant Register?

    The Personal Assistant register is a web based directory of personal assistants who can provide care and support services to other adults. The aim of the Register is to make it easier for you to find Personal Assistants and for Personal Assistants to have a place to advertise their skills and availability, therefore creating a more productive service.

  • How do I find a Personal Assistant on the register that is suitable for me?

    There are two options when searching for a Personal Assistant.  You can choose to view details about all of the PA's on the Register, or you can narrow your search using the 'Advanced Search' option. This will allow you to search for somebody who:

    • has experience in the care sector
    • is able to work in the area you live
    • can speak different languages
    • can support you with the type of services and support you require
    • is available on the days and times that you need your support
    • has a similar interest to you
    • has a recent Disclosure and Barring Service check - previously known as a Criminal Records Bureau check - you will need to ask to see a copy of this to ensure it is up to date
    • has relevant training and qualifications - you will need to ask to see copies of any certificates for training and qualifications
    • has signed up to the Code of Conduct guidelines for Personal Assistants.
  • What is the Disclosure and Barring Service? (Previously known as Criminal Records Bureau)

    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.

    Any information given will be completely confidential by you the employer and will be considered only in relation to an application for positions you are offering.

    From 1st April 2013, only Personal Assistants with a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check will be able to offer Regulated Activities. You will need to see a copy of this from the Personal Assistant you employ.

    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.

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

  • What is the ‘Code of Conduct’?

    The Code of Conduct contains guidelines for the Personal Assistants who are on the register to follow if they wish to sign up to it. It is not a contract or a legal document, but “good practice”. The Code of Conduct in no way replaces a job description or disciplinary procedures.

  • If I think I have found a suitable Personal Assistant on the register what do I do next?

    The Personal Assistants direct contact details are available on the register. You can contact them directly to discuss their suitability and to arrange an interview. If you need support to do this you can ask your friends, relatives or contact your Social Worker or Care Manager.

  • Where do I interview my potential Personal Assistant’s?

    Interviews can take place anywhere of your choice. Normally this would be at your home or a suitable venue. We would strongly recommend you do not conduct the interviews alone.

  • What do I do after I have chosen the Personal Assistant I want?

    If you are employing a Personal Assistant you will need to comply with employment law and provide all the necessary paperwork in order to register them as an employee. Your payroll service will provide you the forms required and liaise with the Inland Revenue in order to register both employer and employee. If you want to do the payroll yourself, you can register with the HMRC here: www.hmrc.gov.uk/paye/intro/register.htm

    Please remember, you, a family member or representative will be the employer, not Derby City Council or Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct).

    Employing your own Personal Assistant can sound daunting. The good news is there is lots of help available. Visit our Employing a Personal Assistant page for more information and advice on becoming an employer.

  • How do I know if my Personal Assistant is self-employed?

    Your Personal Assistant will need to be registered with the Inland Revenue as self-employed. This means they will be issued with a UTR number (Unique Tax Reference). This does not necessarily mean they will be self-employed by you in this role. Your Personal Assistant will need to confirm with the Inland Revenue as the role with you can also be classed as self-employed. You must get proof of this or you may be liable to pay their Tax and National Insurance contributions. Even if you have confirmed your PA is self-employed, they may still be eligible for statutory payments under employment law.

  • What are my financial responsibilities as an employer?

    You will be responsible for paying the Personal Assistant. If you choose to complete your own payroll and your Personal Assistant earns over the Tax threshold or has another job, you are required to:

    • register with the HMRC
    • provide regular payslips to your employees
    • calculate Tax and National Insurance contributions
    • Ensure all other deductions have been made in accordance with statutory regulations e.g. student loans, CSA, fines, government deductions etc.
    • submit payments for Tax and National Insurance contributions to HMRC
    • calculate annual leave entitlements for all employees
    • record annual leave and sickness
    • submit all necessary documents to HMRC, p46’s, p60’s and p45’s etc
    • complete tax returns on-line annually
    • Make statutory payments when required e.g. SSP, SMP, and SPP etc.
    • ensure minimum wage hourly rates are increased in line with annual and age related increases
    • adhere to legal obligations and confidentially store records for 6 years

    There is help available through different organisations including HMRC and Skills for Care

    Employing your own personal assistant can sound daunting. The good news is there is lots of help available. Visit our Employing a Personal Assistant page for information and advice on becoming an employer.

  • Do I need to enrol my Personal Assistant into a pension scheme?

    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 employer.

  • What are my obligations as an employer?

    In addition to the financial responsibilities that you will have as an employer there are other obligations that you will have. You or your representative will need to:

    • provide a contract of employment (within two months of the start date) containing legally binding terms and conditions
    • provide a job description detailing all duties
    • adhere to employment law regulations
    • check that the Personal Assistant is legally entitled to work in the UK
    • adhere to European Working Time Directive regulations
    • provide grievance and disciplinary procedures
    • adhere to Health and Safety regulations
    • ensure staff are fully covered with Employers and Public Liability Insurance
    • offer (if employing a minimum of five employees) and arrange stakeholder pensions
    • offer reasonable adjustments for any employee with specific needs.

    This may seem like a daunting process but there is help available, for example, Skill for care has an excellent toolkit designed for people like you who want to become an employer. Visit our Employing a Personal Assistant page for more information and advice on becoming an employer.

  • What do I need to know about training my Personal Assistant?

    Personal Assistants can access training provided by the Council. It will give them the skills and confidence they need to carry out their job effectively and will also ensure that they know what to do in an emergency or who to contact if there are any problems. There will be a charge for any training the Personal Assistant attends.

    Training will also help to protect both you and them from injury by being shown the correct way of helping someone to stand up for example. The training will give them a good basic overall knowledge of Social Care work and they can choose to go on and study further with having already had some basic knowledge of the care sector.

  • What do I do if I have a problem with the Personal Assistant I have hired through the Register?

    As the employer, you are responsible for dealing with any work related problems, such as poor timekeeping or rudeness by following your disciplinary procedures. If the problem is more serious and if you are the victim of abuse, or you think you know someone who is being or has been abused, it is really important to get help and advice.

    Contact the Safeguarding Team and we will take your concerns seriously.

    Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. Outside office hours please contact Careline, our out of hours emergency social care service, on 01332 786968.

    You can also call the local Police non-emergency number 101.

    If something needs to be done straight away to protect someone from abuse or harm, please call 999 immediately.

    You must also inform the Personal Assistant Register Coordinator at Blue Sky Brokers (Disability Direct) on 01332 404040.