Becoming a personal assistant - FAQs

Some adults need help to carry out everyday 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.

The personal assistant register is a unique scheme developed by Derby City Council. 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.

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
  • relevant  training and qualifications undertaken
  • availability
  • approximate charges.

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.

You can find out more about the Disclosure and Barring Service on the GOV.UK website.

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

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.

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 email,

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

You will be paid by the 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.

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.

You will have an account for the My Care Directory and you will be able to log in and update or amend your details whenever you need to.

The system will automatically prompt you to review and update your details on a 12 monthly basis.

Through the scheme you can access training 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.

We recommend contacting Training Services by email to discuss your training requirements as they may be able to create a tailored training package for you.

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.