What you need to do first


Here are some things you need to think about:

This page aims to give you an understanding of the things you need to think about before becoming an employer or if you are new to Darlington and using direct payments. Please visit Support DAD can provide to see how DAD can support you with your direct payment and Employer Responsibilities for more detailed information about employer responsibilities.

If DAD is supporting you to get started with your direct payment we will also go through the information below to check everything is in place.  Please contact us if you need any support or advice with the following.

Who can be employed?

Direct payments cannot usually be used to employ a spouse, partner or a close relative (or their spouse or partner) who lives in the same household as the person receiving care. The Council can waive these restrictions in some circumstances but only where they are satisfied that securing a service from such a person is necessary to meet that individuals need for that service. Direct payment users should discuss the employment of family or partners with their care manager/ care co-ordinator.

Check the person is legally entitled to work in the UK.

You must ensure that you only employ people who are legally entitled to work in the UK. If you intend to employ anyone who is not a European Union or British Citizen, they will need to provide UK Home Office proof of entitlement to work in the UK, you can find further guidance using this Gov.UK tool.

Employer and employee relationship

The relationship between an employer and a Personal Assistant 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 a PA will need to respect the your individuality and how you choose to live, and to learn how you want and/or need to be supported to do what you want to do. It is their job, but it is your life.

A personal assistant may be supporting you in your home, in your work or education, or in your social life, so a PA will need to understand how you want them to behave, for example how friendly or how formal you want them to be, or when you want them to do certain things without being asked: it is helpful to agree with your PA what approach you want them to take.

A personal assistant should be able to give support without taking over, and be trusted.

Adhering to the law

There are statutory employment rights which apply to all employees regardless of their length of service or hours of work, these are:

  1. Protection against discrimination on the grounds of: race (ethnicity), sex (gender), sexuality (sexual orientation), disability, age, religious belief (faith), and trade union membership.
  2. The right to equal pay and not to have unlawful deductions from pay
  3. The right to make a complaint of ‘Unfair Dismissal’ if dismissed on the grounds of: discrimination (as point No.1 above )
  4. Or for Dismissal: without giving minimum Statutory Notice, or without following a Disciplinary Procedure for employees and dismissal of anyone due to Pregnancy is automatic ‘Unfair Dismissal.’

Employer’s Insurance

By law, an employer must have employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance. This will cover you if, for example, an employee is injured whilst at work. Some policies designed for Direct Payments employers also cover you for other things, including free advice on employment law, full legal advice, and even cover for representation and tribunals if you should ever need it. If DAD are supporting you we can set a policy up on your behalf, if not please see links below for the leading insurance providers and speak to your Care Co-ordinator.

Records you need to keep and monitoring information (returns)

The Council will need to check that you are spending your money on what has been agreed in your support plan. To enable them to monitor your direct payment you will need to keep:

  • Bank statements
  • Receipts
  • If you are employing personal assistants, a copy of your insurance certificate, payroll records, employee contracts etc.
  • You will need to ensure a timesheet is completed if you employ a personal assistant (copies are available by contacting the Councils Direct Payments Finance officer on 01325 346200).

When you first start your direct payment you need to send in this information on 12 weekly basis for the first 6 months. Depending on the support you need to manage your direct payment alongside other relevant factors, your care manger may then be happy that you send this information on a 6 monthly or annual basis.

Whilst you are using DAD’s Direct Payments Support Service we will store the mandatory information required from HMRC on your behalf. Where you are no longer using direct payments or DAD support service we will give you a copy of the records you need to keep. Please visit PAYE record keeping for the amount of time you are required to keep these records.

Support Available to help you with completing 12 weekly returns:

If you have agreed with your care manager that you will be using support from DAD Direct Payments Support Service, we will contact you before your first 12 weekly returns is due to check you understand what you need to do.

If you are not using DAD’s support please remember to keep your bank statements, receipts, invoices, timesheets etc. which will need to be forwarded to the Direct Payments Finance officer 12 weeks after your direct payment has started. The Direct Payment Finance Officer will contact you.

The main thing to remember is to keep the documents listed above and if you have difficulties to ask for help.

Hourly Rate

You need to think about how much you want to pay your employee per hour with the funding you have. You need to allow for your employer costs which are employers national insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, insurance etc and employers must abide by the Statutory Minimum Wage (the minimum rates of pay stated in law). If you receive support from DAD’s Direct Payment Support service we can help you to do this. You can check what the minimum wage is by visiting this link to HM Revenue and Customs.

Contingency Plan

There may be occasions where your personal assistant cannot work for example if they are off sick, there is a family emergency, childcare issues etc. You need to have a back-up plan to ensure you still receive the support you need. It may be that you have a personal assistant who is on a ‘bank’ and only works when you need them or you may have an agency on hand as a back-up.


DAD provides a comprehensive payroll service if you haven’t got this agreed contact your Care Manager. Darlington Borough Council will provide extra funding for people living in Darlington to access this service where needed.
Important note, if you are using DAD payroll service we will undertake the following on your behalf; registering with the tax office (called HM Revenue and Customs), deduct tax and national insurance from your employees’ wages and calculate employer’s national insurance contributions and produce a wage slip.
Please visit HM Revenue Customs website to see how to register as an employer.

Self-employed personal assistants

We highly advise you proceed with caution when using a self-employed personal assistant. You should obtain proof that they are self-employed by asking for their unique tax reference number and by using the Employment Indicator Status tool on HM Revenue and Customs website.

You may choose to contract with self-employed individuals or independent agencies. Domiciliary care providers or Care Agencies must comply with the Care Standards Act, and be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) where personal care is provided. Direct payments users are not limited to contracting with registered domiciliary care providers where the provider does not provide personal care.

Checklist of employer responsibilities, please also visit Employer Responsibilities and recruiting a personal assistant which will give you more detailed information on each of the below

  • Rota and times of work
  • Safe recruitment
  • Advertising
  • Job description
  • Short-listing
  • Interviewing
  • Induction
  • Training
  • Offer Letter
  • Contract
  • Health and Safety
  • Holidays
  • Budgeting
  • Contingency fund
  • Backup arrangements

The DAD Direct Payment Support service are here to support you with the above, please contact us at the DAD. Direct Payments Support Service on (01325) 360524, or email directpayments@darlingtondisability.org

Return to Being an Employer and Recruitment Support page


How you can support us

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.

Click here to find out how you can support us

Return to top of Page