Personal assistants (PA)

We recommend that you do not start a recruitment process without talking to someone who has expertise in this field of work. Please call us on 01926 413908 if you will be recruiting staff and will not be using the support organisation to support you.

Finding a personal assistant (PA)

Finding the right personal assistant is important and it can be difficult to know where to begin to find that right person. You can find PA’s by using the PA finder at Penderels Trust.

Things to think about when looking for a PA:

  • writing job descriptions, job specifications, job adverts, preparing job application packs
  • the PA’s conditions of service (rates of pay, hours, breaks)
  • what they will do, how and when
  • what training is needed
  • what you will do when they take annual leave, are sick or need other unplanned time off work
  • how to keep safe when advertising, interviewing and recruiting

We would recommend that:

  • you do not put your home address, telephone number, or details about yourself on the job advert
  • you could ask the Jobcentre to advertise for you. They have their own process which will help you to stay safe or you can perhaps use a mailbox number.
  • You make sure you ask for two written job references from the people you interview and follow them up
  • when you interview people do it away from your home address if you can and have someone with you to support you
  • when the PA starts working with you it is advised that you arrange for a friend parent or someone you trust to spend some time with you when your PA first starts work
  • When a PA starts to work for you, you must have Employment Liability Insurance in place
  • You must be clear of the start date, so as they can be paid from the correct date and HMRC (Her Majesty s Revenue & Customs) will be advised of this from the payroll service
  • It is required by Employment Law that an Employment Contract and Terms and Conditions are given to the PA before they start work for you. The latest this can be is the day that they start work
  • Direct Payments will be paid from the start date on the contract and cannot be backdated unless all Employment Law requirements have been met

You must comply with all the current employment legislation and we strongly advise you have support to do this.

If you have autism, Skills for Care have produced a How to be a great autistic individual employer guide to help.

Self employed PAs

We do not recommend contracting with self employed individuals for PA tasks. There are very few instances when someone can be truly classed as self-employed if they work for someone who receives a direct payment. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can help you determine your worker’s correct employment status.

You need to ensure the person supporting you can be classed as self-employed as you could become liable for tax and national insurance payments backdated from when they commenced working for you. Your direct payment may be suspended, or end if we are not satisfied that the arrangements in place comply with HMRC requirements.

Please seek advice before recruiting anyone who claims to be self-employed.

Sometimes an individual will be classed as self-employed in another role, but this does not determine their correct status when they work for you. Just because a worker is self-employed in one job, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be self-employed in another job.

The quickest way of getting HMRC’s view on whether your PA is employed or self employed is to use the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool. You will need to take a note of the unique reference number provided, plus retain a copy of the questions and the answers you provided. This will need to be produced should a query arise at a later date.

If you are unable to use the CEST tool, or are unsure of your worker’s employment status you can telephone the HMRC Status Customer Service Team on 0300 123 2326 from 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.

Direct Payments for a self-employed PA cannot commence until all relevant documentation has been gathered and signed off by the council. You will then receive a Self-Employed PA Agreement.

Other considerations

Insurance

If your worker is confirmed as self-employed by HMRC you will not become the employer. The self-employed worker must have insurance and show you a copy of their insurance cover.

Agreement

A self-employed PA should provide you with a contract of the service they are going to provide to you. This needs to include details such as notice required to cancel service, the work they are going to carry out and how much they are going to charge.

It is advisable to get something in writing from the PA to state they will be responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance payments to HMRC.

Hours of work

A self-employed person can choose if and when they work for you. You must decide if this will work for you.

Payment

The PA should provide you with an invoice for the work they have carried out, ideally four weekly or monthly. We would advise you ask the PA to sign the invoice to say you have paid them or obtain a receipt for any payments you make.

We advise you do not pay the full hourly rate of direct payment you received as you may still need to budget for other unforeseen costs, such as contingency arrangements if your PA is absent. Self-employed workers are not entitled to paid annual leave. If you have more than one PA they will need to invoice and be paid separately.

Leave

Self-employed PAs are not entitled to paid annual leave or sick. If they require time off, they must arrange for someone to cover their hours at their own cost. It is not your responsibility to do this.

Third-party managed account

If you have a managed account, the organisation managing your account will ask you to provide details of the self employed person’s bank account details, as they can make payments directly into their bank account.

If you have a self-employed PA, we advise you notify the organisation that you need to see a copy of the invoice and authorise it before any payment is made. This will reduce the risk of any misunderstanding in the event of a query over payment.

We can ask at any time to see copies of documents that support the arrangements you have in place that comply with HMRC and any other legal requirements.

Training

You need to make sure any PA’s / staff you employ are able to carry out the tasks you expect of them, and do not put you or them at risk of being injured.

We strongly recommend that you identify your own training needs so you can provide some formal guidance or training to your PAs. We also recommend that you access the training courses you have identified. This may mean attending some courses together. If your PA has not already undertaken training, these are sorts of courses you may need to consider:

  • moving and handling
  • first aid
  • infection control
  • food hygiene
  • administration of medication
  • health and safety

Skills for Care have developed a range of support for individual employers; to help them to understand their responsibilities and develop the skills of their personal assistants. This includes: