What can a carer or personal assistant do for you?
In short, the role of a carer or personal assistant is to support you so that you can lead as independent a life as possible in your own home.
They might work for only a few hours a week, or several hours each day (or night) and help with a range of tasks such as:
Using direct payments to appoint a personal assistant
It’s estimated that there will be more than a million personal assistants working in the UK by 2025.
If you’re eligible for funding for social care at home, you can choose to get the amount of money you are assessed as needing for your care paid straight into your bank account.
That means that instead of having a personal assistant provided by the council, you can employ them directly or appoint a home care agency to do it for you.
Using a home care agency
For many people, using a home care agency is a lot less hassle.
But you do not have the same control over who is giving you your care and support as you would if you were employing your own personal assistant(s).
The agency will handle all payments, taxes and insurance, as well as doing police checks and following up references.
However, you might not always have the same person visiting your home.
And, of course, it costs more – allow an extra £5 to £10 per hour, depending on your care needs and where you live.
To find an home care agency, visit the UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) website.
Employing a personal assistant directly
Clearly there are some benefits here.
Appointing someone yourself gives you more choice and control over who cares for you and what tasks they do. Personal Carer makes the process of finding a PA easy.
But it also immediately turns you into an employer, with all the legal, financial and practical issues that entails.
So before going down this road, there’s a lot you’ll need to think about.
Checking someone’s right to work in the UK
As an employer, you must make sure that any prospective worker is eligible to work in the UK before you employ them.
Ask to check people’s passports or other ID to prove they’re from the European Economic Area or have a visa to work here.
Remember to keep a copy of the paperwork.
For more information on the right to work in the UK, visit the Home Office website.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB checks)
In Northern Ireland, you’ll need to ask your local trust or a local voluntary organisation to make the request for information to the DBS on your behalf. Find out more on the Department of Justice website.
Drawing up an employment contract for a carer or personal assistant
You’ll need to provide a written statement of employment, including the specific tasks the personal assistant should provide, place of work, working hours, pay rate, duration of employment and holiday entitlement.
Pay and tax
You must pay your personal assistant at least the minimum wage – realistically, you’re talking about £9 an hour, or closer to £11 if your care needs are more complex.
You might also be responsible for deducting tax and National Insurance from their wages and have to pay the employer’s National Insurance contribution.
Find out more about tax and National Insurance when employing people in your home on the HM Revenue & Customs website.
Time off, sick pay and holiday pay
Not only will you have to pay these, you’ll also need to find replacement cover.
Your carer or personal assistant has an entitlement to:
As an employer, you must take out Employer’s Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance.
Your direct payments should be able to help towards the cost of this, but it will depend on your local authority.
Centre for Independent Living Payroll Service
Using a payroll service ensures that your personal assistants tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted correctly. They also tell you how much Employer’s National Insurance to pay. They will sort out your paperwork and deal with the tax office (HMRC) for you.
Ask an Independent Living Advisor at The Centre for Independent Living about their dedicated payroll service. Your direct payment should include money to cover payroll costs.