Becoming an employer and employing your own staff directly usually gives you the most control over your assistance, but it also gives you responsibilities under the law. This may sound daunting, but there is a lot of support available to you, making being an employer as simple and as effective as possible for you. As long as you get advice or support whenever you might need it, you have every chance of getting what you want out of being an employer.
The following information provides a comprehensive introduction to what needs to be in place as an employer. You need to be clear about what your responsibilities are, the information on this page will help you do this.
DAD are able to provide you with any support, information and advice with all of the following, please contact us on 01325 360524 (option 2) for further information as to how you go about getting your support with us.
Identify who you would like to employ to provide the support. If you need to recruit a personal assistant please visit ‘Recruiting a personal assistant’ and ‘What you need to do first’
Please visit this link to see a template job description which you can choose to use or do your own. It is important your staff member is clear what their role is and aware of any ground rules you want to set.
To ensure that the person you employ is suitable we always advise that you undertake pre-employment checks and take up references even if you know the person you are going to employ. You can do this by accessing DAD’s vetting service which supports you to carry out pre-appointment checks, if you receive a direct payment you can use it to pay for this. The cost includes:
If for any reason you feel that a person who is working or has worked for you is unsuitable to work with vulnerable people it is important that you report this. Examples may include financial abuse or physical or emotional abuse. Please speak to DAD.
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 at this Gov.UK link
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.
FISH, 0800 088 3245, www.fishinsurance.co.uk
It is illegal not to have employer’s liability insurance.
Please ensure that you have read your policy fully so that you are aware of what you are and are not covered for and how to claim. It is strongly suggested that you take out enhanced cover which will provide support and cover in the event of disciplinary issues etc.
An induction is where you formally meet with your employee before they start their job. An induction should inform your personal assistant the main things that they need to know for example practical tasks and you might want to explain to your personal assistant the kind of lifestyle you have and what attitudes and approach you expect them to adopt when working for you. This is important as personal assistants can have set ideas about the role of supporting disabled individuals.
Taking time at the beginning to explain your wishes will ensure your PA knows what is expected.
There may be occasions where your personal assistant cannot work for example they are off sick, there is a family emergency, childcare issue 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.
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.
It is best practice to write an offer letter to your new employee which would include details such as, start date, rate of pay and payment method, times of work, place of work and any other detail of the job role.
DAD provides a comprehensive payroll service if you haven’t got this agreed contact your Care Manager.
You must be registered with the tax office (now called HM Revenue and Customs) and, where appropriate, you must deduct tax and national insurance from your employees’ wages and also pay employer’s national insurance contributions. You also need a system for issuing a payslip to your employee.
Your employee will need to complete a time sheet for hours worked, copies of timesheets are available from Adult Social Care’s Direct Payment Finance officer on 01325 346200.
It is important to think about when you would like your personal assistant to work for you. Do you have set times that particular duties need carrying out? Do you want an arrangement where you agree hours to be worked a week in advance?
Please visit here to see an example weekly rota that you can choose to use to plan your employees hours.
The law says that you must exchange a written contract with each employee, within eight weeks of when the employee started to work for you. Even before the written contract is exchanged however, you already have a contract with anyone who works for you, simply as a result of them doing work for you in return for money. According to the law, a written contract is only one part of the contract that exists between you. Please visit here to see an example contract you may use or you can draw up your own. If you make your own or make changes to the template it is important that you get it checked by your insurers employment law advice service or ACAS.
You and your employees must take a sensible approach to health and safety. It is not possible to avoid all risks, but you should balance risk against other important factors, such as your dignity and living your life the way you want to, and then do things in the safest way that will work for you.
If your personal assistant will be involved in helping you to move or transfer (get in and out of a chair or bed etc) or use specialist equipment such as a hoist, it is especially important that they are properly trained to do this. If they aren’t trained and they injure themselves, you could be liable. You can get support in thinking about health and safety issues and training from the Direct Payment Support Service on 01325 360524 (option 2).
You must not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of disability, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, nationality, colour, ethnic background or belief. If you have a disciplinary problem with an employee, you must deal with it in a fair and open way, in accordance with government guidance, and you will need to keep a record to show that you have acted fairly - you can get support with this from the Direct Payment Support Service, the ACAS helpline (0845 7474747) or a consultancy service attached to your employer’s insurance. You can also take out an insurance policy which provides cover and ongoing advice if you run into any difficulties.
You must give your employees the opportunity to take paid holidays. They are entitled to 5.6 weeks off a year, including any national holidays they may take. If someone works part-time, say 10 hours per week for example, then when they have arranged to take a week off they would be paid 10 hours holiday pay; if they work 15 hours a week they would be paid 15 hours holiday pay, and so on.
Please see below further information on employer’s responsibilities.
Good recruitment practice
Many people choose to employ their own personal assistants or support workers to meet their needs. Personal assistance can be an excellent way of getting the support you need which matches your lifestyle and also gives you greater control and choice over your support.
DAD Direct Payment Support Service has a range of options to support you to recruit and employ your own personal assistants.
There is some essential information which you should take into account when first becoming and employer and whenever you are recruiting:
Advertising and recruitment support options from DAD
We produce a vacancy flier which we send to people interested in personal assistance work. You are able to advertise in the flier which will include you advert with a reference number so applicants can indicate if they want to apply for your job.
We can also support you to put your advert in the job centre or if you choose to, in a local paper.
In addition we also have a personal assistant register and a bank of support workers with details of people who are currently looking for work. You can access this by calling into the office or we can give you details over the phone.
Budgeting for Employers
The hourly wage paid to your personal assistant must not fall below the minimum wage, otherwise you will be breaking the law. However, if the pay rates are too low you may find it harder to recruit reliable staff.
So long as you stay within the overall limits of your Direct Payments income and are able to account accurately on the Financial Statement for the Direct Payment monies you have spent, met any legal or other responsibilities you have, you can work out your own budget to make sure that you get the most from your funding.
If you are using DAD Direct Payments Support Service we can help you budget your Direct Payment. As an employer you need to think about budgeting the following, which will accumulate in your direct payment bank account:
Contingency Fund Explained
If you are an employer, your contingency fund is the amount of money that will accumulate each week to cover items such as Maternity Pay, Bank Holidays, Christmas Day working pay, redundancy and Emergency Cover. It will also include money that is already committed but that you have not yet paid, such as holiday pay, tax and National Insurance contributions etc. The amount you can carry forward depends on how much funding you get.
If your contingency fund is less than the expected amount (usually 3 or 4 weeks times your weekly Direct Payment), it may indicate that you are underfunded. If it is more than the expected amount, Social Services may want to ask why you are not spending the money. It is important to point out that the council will not just take into account the amount of contingency that has accumulated for future expenditure, e.g. holiday pay and redundancy, but also the speed at which it has accumulated too. If you are concerned about the level of contingency fund please talk to the support service or your care manager.
You should only use your contingency for support agreed in your support plan or agreed with your care manager.
No matter how well organised you are, inevitably there will be times when your Personal Assistants are unable to come to work, for example through illness. A backup list of people you can call on in an emergency if your usual staff are unable to come to work is essential. This is something you should do before anything goes wrong, to avoid problems later.
Your options for finding assistance in an emergency are:
Family and Friends
Using family and friends to assist you in an emergency is really up to your own preference. For some people it will be a preferred option, for others it will be a last resort.
Existing Personal Assistants
Contacting other members of your team to see if they could work at short notice is often a very food way of dealing with an emergency. Your existing staff know your needs and you would therefore be saved from having to explain everything to them. It is always a good idea to think about this when you are recruiting staff by asking your applicants how flexible they can be and if they would be available to work at short notice. How successful using your existing Personal Assistants for backup will depend on how many staff you employ.
Previous Personal Assistants
Keeping in touch with Personal Assistants who used to work for you can also be a useful way of increasing the number of people you can call upon for backup. It is always a good idea to ask them when they leave if they would be willing to provide cover in an emergency.
Specially recruited Backup Staff
Recruiting a number of Personal Assistants to provide backup can be a good idea, but many people have found that it is difficult to make this approach work effectively. The problem is that most people do not use their backup staff enough to keep them interested in the job, so at the time when they do need them, they are not available. The Direct Payments Support Service has a compiled list of vetted Personal Assistants who would be willing to provide cover in an emergency situation.
Another option in an emergency is to use staff from a private agency. If you want to do this you should make contact with the agency in advance and explain your situation. If you leave it to the last minute, it is unlikely that they will be able to assist you. You may find that the charges made by an agency are more than you have in your Direct Payment budget. If the problem is likely to go on for some time, you should contact your Care Manager to discuss this matter as soon as possible.
If all else fails you could telephone Social Services. If you do this outside of office hours a recorded message will give you an emergency number to ring to speak to the Duty Officer.
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.