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Employing a personal assistant

Personal Assistants (known as PA’s) are employed by individuals, who may need support due to age or disability, to assist them to lead the lives they choose.

Personal Assistants carry out a wide range of tasks within their role. Different people will require PA’s to provide support and/or care to meet their individual needs. These tasks can include support with washing and getting dressed, cooking, eating and also support to get out and about and do the things they need to do.

A PA must understand that each person they support is an individual with specific requirements and that their role is to support them to have choice and control.

What do I need to think about if I am paying someone to help me?

Employing your own staff (normally called a personal assistant), rather than using an agency to find them for you can give you a lot more choice and control over who you have to help you and what they do for you. However it can be complicated and will mean that you are taking on some extra responsibilities.

The Skills for Care website has 6 booklets help you find out about employing a personal assistant, what to do when they are working for you and your responsibilities as an employer.

There are also some other useful Factsheets to give you advice about employing personal assistants:

Is your personal assistant is employed by you, or self-employed?

Someone is employed by you if:

  • you decide the hours that they work and what they do for you 

  • you provide them with the equipment that they need to do their job (this might be things like protective gloves or aprons for instance) 

  • you are the person who is responsible for arranging a replacement if they are absent from work 

You might also find this HMRC Employment Status Indicator useful in deciding if your assistant is employed or self-employed.

If you use your direct payment to pay someone to help you on a regular basis, it is important to remember that the person will be treated as being in work for the hours that you pay them for, and this may affect some benefits and tax credits that they may be getting. They should tell the DWP and/or HMRC about their work.                            

You may decide that you would like family or close friends to help you with being an employer, or you may want to use a specialist service to help you. 

  • ACAS also has a free helpline and web based advice service for employers. Tel. 0300 123 1100

From April 2015 family members who are helping you to be an employer, by helping you to manage your payroll system for instance are able to make a reasonable charge for helping you.

If a family member or friend is helping you to manage being an employer, they should not normally also be a paid employee of yours.


What sort of things do I need to plan for if I am employing a personal assistant?

  • You need to have a plan about how you will manage when your personal assistant is on holiday or off work sick, or if they take maternity or paternity leave.
  • You should make sure that your plan about how you will cover their absence is written into your support plan, and that your personal budget will allow you to cover these contingencies.
  • You will need to think about their rights to redundancy payments once they have worked for you for two years.
  • You will need to understand what legal rights your personal assistant has.
  • You need to make sure that you have  employers’ liability insurance in place.
  • You should also think about what you will do and where you will go for help if you have any dispute with your employee(s)

Do I need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check done for any staff that I employ?

You do not have to, but we would encourage you to do so. It may help you to make a decision about whether someone you are thinking of employing is suitable if you know if they have a criminal record.

Read about DBS checks

Updated August 2018

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