The relationship between a Personal Assistant and the person they are employed to support is unique. Direct Payments put disabled people in control of their own support, and Personal Assistants are employed to support disabled people to meet their needs in the way that they choose.
This can mean very different things to different personal assistance users, depending on their needs and their personality, but in general you will need to respect the person’s individuality and how they choose to live, and to learn how they want and/or need to be supported to do what they want to do. It is your job, but it is their life.
In different situations, you may need to take the initiative and just get on with things, or you may need to wait to be told what to do. You may need to speak on behalf of the person you support, or you may need to keep quiet and let them speak for themselves. You may be supporting someone in their home, in their work or education, or in their social life, so you will need to understand how they want you to behave, for example how friendly or how formal they want you to be, or when they want you do to certain things without being asked: you must agree with your employer what approach they want you to take.
You need to be able to give support without taking over, and the person you support needs to know they can trust you.
Because being a Personal Assistant often means you are supporting someone in their private life and in very personal matters. It is absolutely vital that you respect their privacy and maintain confidentiality about what happens at work. Even just chatting with friends and family about your day, if you reveal personal information, could easily become gross misconduct that could lead to dismissal.
Similarly, you must not give information about your employer, or about your job, to other people who work as Personal Assistants. Even with other PA's who work for the same employer, you need to know that the employer is happy for you to share information before you do so. If you work for more than one Direct Payments employer, you cannot talk to one employer (or their PAs) about another employer.
If you work for more than one employer, it is important to be aware of the differences between the requirements of each job. Every Direct Payments user has different needs, different preferences, different priorities, and a different budget, and because of this they are likely to make different decisions, and to want you to do different things or to do things in different ways.
For example, they may pay you different rates of pay, or need different amounts of notice of when you want to take holidays, or need you to work at different times. In one job you might be expected to always answer the telephone; in another you might be expected to leave the room to give the person they support some privacy while they answer the telephone. This is no different from, for example, working for more than one shop; you would not expect the same terms or tasks in each job.
It is your own responsibility to check that you are being paid the correct wage and that your Income Tax and National Insurance deductions are correct. If the amount paid seems too low or too high, you should speak to your employer, who may contact the Support Service if necessary.
Most employees under pension age have a tax-free allowance of £12,500 per year. If you have more than one job, HM Revenue and Customs will assume that you use up all of your tax-free allowance on your first job. If you don’t earn more than your allowance on your first job, you should call HMRC 0300 200 3300 and explain what you earn on each job. They can offer you options on splitting your allowances across different jobs so as not to pay too much tax.
The number in the tax code for each job tells you what tax-free allowance has been put onto each job, e.g. 1200L means an allowance of £12500 a year, 405L means a £4,050 allowance, while BR (with no number) means there is no tax-free allowance on that job, and NT (with no number) means you are not being taxed at all (possibly because you are expected to earn less than your allowance).
If you think your tax code is wrong, or you are paying more tax than you need to, or paying less than you should and building up a debt to HM Revenue and Customs, you should speak to the tax office. Darlington Association on Disability has no control over your tax code or rate of deductions, and our payroll service can only apply the tax code that the tax office gives us.
You will pay National Insurance contributions on earnings above £166 per week. If you have more than 1 job, this is worked out separately for each employer you work for. This means that you will pay less National Insurance if you do two or more jobs than if you earned the same amount of money in just one job.
By law, all employees have an entitlement to 5.6 weeks paid holiday each year (usually the holiday year is from 1st April to 31st March). However, you do need to arrange to take your holidays at a time that your employer agrees to, and you should make sure you give your employer enough notice. If you fail to arrange holidays within the holiday year, you do not have a legal right to carry them over to next year, although it may sometimes be possible to come to an arrangement with your employer.
If you have problems at work, you need to take them up with your employer. Your employer can get support from the Direct Payments Support Service if necessary. We need to get permission from your employer before we are able to speak to you about a problem you may have (other than where this is a safeguarding issue).
You can apply for any of the vacancies by contacting:
DAD Direct Payments Support Service,
Unit 1P Enterprise House,
Valley Street North,
Tel (01325) 360524, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
As a local organisation we very much rely on the support of our local community, and continue to support people flexibly to have greater choice and control and remove the barriers that disabled people and children experience in their everyday lives. We support over 2,000 people every year. But we need your help.