If you choose to use a Direct Payment to receive assistance in caring for a child or young adult, there are several options available to you. You may decide to appoint an agency to provide a support worker for you, to directly employ a Personal Assistant (PA) or to access other respite opportunities. There are pros and cons to consider with all options and the Direct Payment Service recommends you discuss these with your Case Worker before making a decision.

Should you wish to use an agency rather than employ a PA please contact us for a list of care agencies.

If you choose to employ a PA then you are responsible for the recruitment and employment of that person. Whilst employing a PA will most likely afford you a greater amount of control, choice and flexibility around the provision of the support, becoming an employer will bring with it certain legal responsibilities.  Although this may sound daunting, your Case Worker will ensure that you remain fully informed and supported at all times.

Becoming an Employer

Being a Good Employer

Once you have recruited your PA or PAs, it is important that you maintain a good working relationship with them in order to ensure they remain working for you. Respect and clear communication are key to a successful employer-employee relationship. If you treat your PA well then it is more likely they will perform better in their role.

Here are 4 steps that will ensure that you are able to maintain a positive working relationship with your PA:

  • Probationary period

We recommend that you include at least a 3 month probationary period in your Contract of Employment with your PA. This allows you time to get to know them and ensure that they are suitable for your child or young adult before agreeing to employ them on a permanent basis.

  • Induction

It is important that you provide new PAs with an induction to ensure that they are aware of the requirements of their new role. The induction is a chance for you to set the standards required and to answer any questions your PA may have regarding their role. It is also a time to ensure your PA understands your child’s/young adult’s support needs and you may find the  My Passport document an effective way of communicating this. Many PAs have told us that being provided with this type of  tool has been extremely helpful.

  • Regular chats

Take the time to speak with your PA on a regular basis even after the induction period is over. This can be as formal or informal as you feel appropriate and will allow you to provide your PA with feedback, to discuss any issues that may have arisen since your last conversation and enable your PA to discuss any problems they may have.

  • Training opportunities

Identify any outstanding training and development  needs your PA may have e.g. lifting and handling, peg feeding or managing challenging behaviour. You may wish to discuss these with your Case Worker in order to try and identify any training opportunities available.

To ensure you continue to fulfil your legal responsibilities as an employer download our PA Employer CHECKLIST.

A Step by Step Guide to Employing a PA

The recruitment process may sound daunting, however your Case Worker will be at hand to offer their guidance and advice. Here is a breakdown of the stages involved in recruiting your own PA. To simplify this process further and to enable you to monitor what tasks you need to carry out, go to:

Decide what/who you are looking for

Before you can place an advertisement you need to decide what you actually want.  Ask yourself the following questions: what tasks you will want your PA to perform, what skills will your PA need, how many PAs will you need, are there people you know already that may be suitable? Questions such as these will allow you to be clear on what you actually want from a PA.

Advertising for staff

Think about advertising in as many places as possible in order to get the best possible response. In our experience it is worth speaking to your child’s/young adults school or college, as well as friends and family, as this can often be the best way to find someone that already knows your child and their needs. If you cannot find anyone suitable, try advertising at other local resources such as other schools, the post office or a community centre. When drawing up an advert, ensure it is informative but to the point. For more information about what to include in your advertisement have a look at our Direct Payment Service advertisement template.

Have a look at our PA register

As well as advertising for PAs you may also want to consider looking at the Direct Payment Service’s PA Register. The PA Register is accessible to all families who have been referred to access a Direct Payment. It contains a list of people who have told us they are available and looking to work with families that live in Kent and  who use a Direct Payment. The PA Register is available via the homepage of this website and if you are a recipient of a Direct Payment and would like to be provided with a copy of the register you can contact us. PLEASE NOTE: The PA Register is not vetted by the Direct Payment Service, nor has everybody on it been DBS checked. It is the responsibility of parents/guardians (employers) to check the skills/suitability of PAs on the Register.

Put together a recruitment pack

Your recruitment pack could include the following items: an application form, job description, person specification, and any other information you deem relevant for your potential PA. You may also want to consider using the Direct Payment recruitment service which allows all applications to be sent to us so that you maintain anonymity. Either speak to your Case Worker or contact us to find out more about this service.  If you would like a recruitment pack template (including application form, job description and personal specification) download our Recruitment Pack, which includes:

  • the Direct Payment Service PA Recruitment Pack Introduction PDF/DOC
  • the Direct Payment Service PA Recruitment Pack Job Description PDF/DOC
  • the Direct Payment Service PA Recruitment Pack Application Form PDF/DOC

Interview your applicants

Once you have received the completed application forms you can then invite the most suitable candidates to attend an interview. The Direct Payment Service recommend that you consider interviewing candidates in a neutral location rather than your own home. Your Case Worker will be able to advise you on places to hold the interview and also what questions to ask during the interview itself. For more information, advice and support regarding interviewing potential PAs, download our Interview tips

Make a Decision

Once you have chosen a candidate you will need to make an offer of employment. When this is accepted, please contact your Case Worker, as they will need to arrange a DBS check and provide information to your Social Worker to get your Direct Payment funding set up.

Preventing illegal working

Employers have a legal duty to check that the person they want to employ is entitled to work in the UK before they start working for them.  It is important to make document checks on ALL employees even if you are sure they have the right to work here.  Ideally, the Right to Work Check should be carried out before requesting a DBS check is carried out.

What documentation do you need to see? As part of your recruitment practise always ask your employee to show you their passport and provide you with a photocopy of the page containing all personal details. You will need to sign and date this photocopy once you have seen the original passport and keep this with their Contract of Employment. In the case of foreign nationals, additional documentation may be required to prove they have an entitlement to work in the UK.  For more information go to: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/business-sponsors/preventing-illegal-working/support Alternatively phone the UK Border Agency ‘Employer Checking Service’ helpline on Tel: 03300 1234699

DBS checks

It is important that an Enhanced DBS check is carried out on ANY person you wish to employ. A PA cannot start working with your child unless they have a current DBS check which has been verified by Beams DP Service.  Your Case Worker will organise the check and the cost is covered by KCC. If your potential PA has a current enhanced DBS Check that is less than 18 months old or that is registered on the DBS Bureau Update Service it may be possible to accept that check without the necessity of carrying out a new one.   The PA will need to produce their original certificate for inspection.   If the PA has registered for the DBS Update Service, they will still need to provide their original certificate for verification, Beams DP Service can then utilise the Update Service.  All PA’s must sign a Consent Form enabling Beams to retain their DBS details to comply with Data Protection requirements.  For further information please contact your Case Worker.

Kent Card

The Kent Card is Kent County Council’s preferred option for providing a Direct Payment. You will be allocated a Kent Card Account into which your Direct Payment funding will be paid by KCC in order that you can purchase the support you or your child/young adult has been assessed as needing. You will be able to make payments from this account to  your PA, your tax office, your payroll and your insurance company or agency.  Your Case Worker will guide you through this process. For more information go to: Kent Card Children FAQs v02

Decide who will sort out your tax and national insurance

You can either do this yourself by registering with HMRC, or you can use a payroll company to act for you. If you decide to use a payroll company, KCC will fund the cost of providing a 4 weekly payroll service. You can choose any payroll company you wish, however, the cost must be competitive and your Case Worker will be able to provide you with details of such providers who specialise in Direct Payments. The Direct Payment Service is aware of the following companies that currently provide this service with the amounts agreed by KCC :

Beams Payroll Service

http://wearebeams.org.uk/payroll-service-2/

SmartPAYE

http://smartpaye.co.uk/Contact_Us.html

In order to set yourself up with a payroll provider , please contact them and request a Starter Pack.

Get necessary insurance

It is a legal requirement for all employers to purchase Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance.  KCC will fund up to £77.00 per annum to cover the cost of basic Employer’s Liability and Public Liability insurance for DP recipients aged 0 to 17 years.   For those DP recipients aged 18 plus, KCC will fund up to £135.00 to cover the full policy. You must have the necessary insurance in place before your PA starts working for you, if you are unsure which level of cover to take please contact your DP Case Worker.  You need employer’s liability insurance to provide protection should your PA be injured whilst working for you and you are held responsible. You need public liability insurance to provide protection should you and/or your PA be held legally responsible for injury to other people, or damage to their property.  You can choose any insurance company you like, however if the cost is more than that agreed by KCC you will need to pay the difference yourself. The Direct Payment Service is aware of the following companies that currently provide this service within the KCC agreed amounts:

Mark Bates LTD

https://markbatesltd.com/products/independent-living/home-employment-insurance

Fish Insurance

https://www.fishinsurance.co.uk/products/independent-living-insurance/

Direct Care Insurance

http://www.directcareinsurance.co.uk/Carers-Public-Liability.aspx

Write a Contract

You need to provide your PA with a Contract within eight weeks of their start date, but our advice is to have this ready for when they start, so you can go through it with them and make sure everything is understood. To help you why not look at our downloadable Employment documents, which include:

  • Contract of Employment – Regular staff
  • Contract of Employment – Casual staff
  • Privacy Notice

You just need to enter your name, the PA’s name, your address and the start date on the front page. Then enter the length of probationary period in Section 2, the working hours in Section 3 (we recommend you arrange hours flexibly) and the rate of pay in Section 4. Once you have completed this, attach the appendices which are also located in our Employment documents section and print off two copies for signing. Keep one copy for your records and give the other copy to your PA.  You must also provide your PA with a copy of your Privacy Notice which explains to them what personal information you will hold on them and how your will store and use this data. Employment documents

Paying Your PA

Once your PA has completed a work period (usually 4 weeks) you need to provide them with a pay slip and pay them. If you are using a payroll company, contact them and let them know how many hours your PA has worked in the preceding 4 week period. It is advisable to keep a record of the hours your PA has worked each week. Either enter the hours your PA has worked each week in a diary or you may find our downloadable PA Time Sheet useful.  If you are employing more than one PA you may find  our downloadable PA Rota Time Sheet more useful. The payroll company will then calculate what needs to be paid and send you a pay slip and supporting paperwork. Once you receive this, pay your PA the net amount stated on the payslip. You can pay your PA using internet or telephone banking. Your payroll company will also advise you of any payments you need to make to HMRC to cover tax and National Insurance or any pensions contributions which may become due.

Record keeping

Your Case Worker will visit you, initially within 3 months of your start date and then annually,  to carry out a finance check. You need to keep all your paperwork such as, invoices and payment records for them to check.  For more information read leaflet Managing your DP records (Child). During these checks your Case Worker will be able to advise you on holiday entitlement and help calculate what is due. Should you wish to calculate your PAs holiday entitlement, go to our downloadable Holiday Pay Calculator, which includes:

  • Holiday Pay Calculator XLS

Car Insurance and Travel Expenses

If your PA is going to use either your car or their own car to take out your child whilst working for you, “business use” must be added to the relevant policy.  Some companies charge for this addition and this is not a cost that is covered by your Direct Payment, so you would need to discuss this with your PA and agree how this cost will be met.  You should cover the cost of any petrol used by your PA in the process of carrying out their work.  This cost is not covered by the Direct Payment funds and should be paid by yourself at a rate agreed between you and your PA.  The cost of the PA getting to and from work (usually your home) is not classed as an employment expense.  Please speak to your DP Case Worker for guidance on expense rates.

KCC Agreement

Before you receive the Direct Payment your Social Worker will get you to sign an agreement from KCC outlining the terms and conditions of receiving a Direct Payment. REMEMBER: Your Case Worker is there to guide you through all aspects of this process, so if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact your Case Worker. Alternatively you can always contact us direct.

Employer Responsibilities

Some of the things you will need to consider when becoming an employer include:

  • Protecting your Employee’s personal information
  • Payment
  • Health and Safety
  • Insurance
  • Right to Work Checks
  • DBS checks and safe employment
  • Pension requirements
  • Good Employment Practise

Not only will your Case Worker ensure that you are provided with all the relevant information and support, but there are also a number of websites that can provide you with more detailed information and advice regarding employing a PA.

Self Employed Personal Assistants

In most circumstances, a Personal Assistant will not be classed under HMRC guidelines as being self employed, due to the nature of the work.  If your Personal Assistant is genuinely self employed they will normally be registered as such with the HMRC and they will be responsible for arranging their own Tax and National Insurance contributions.

It is up to the HMRC to decide whether a particular situation is self-employment. Neither you nor your personal assistant/s can decide this. It is unlikely that your Personal Assistant would be deemed to be self-employed in relation to pension regulations.

As a general guide, a worker is employed by you if most of the following statements apply to them:

  • You tell them what work to do when, where and how to do it
  • They have to do the work themselves
  • You tell them how many hours to work
  • You can move them from task to task
  • They have certain benefits, such as paid annual leave.

As a general guide, a worker is self-employed if the following statements apply:

  • They decide when, where and how to work
  • They decide what jobs they do
  • They can hire someone else to do the work for them
  • You pay them an agreed, fixed price
  • Their own finances are at risk

You should think carefully before treating a personal assistant as self -employed.  HMRC and may decide that your personal assistant is actually your employee.  If this happens you may have to pay tax and National Insurance on everything you have paid.

This is a complex area and we recommend that you read the HMRC leaflet IR56 or contact them directly on 08457 143143. They will provide more details around whether someone may be employed or self employed.  In addition you may wish to look at the HMRC Employment Status Indicator.

Using an Agency

 

If you think you would find managing your own workers difficult or if you wish to use an agency instead of employing directly you can decide to use your Direct Payment to pay a care agency as an alternative.

 

There are advantages to using care agencies:

  • All the services will be arranged for you
  • You can specify the times when you need assistance and what assistance you want
  • In the absence of your regular support worker, cover should be provided by the agency

There are disadvantages as well:

  • Using care agencies will give you less control over the service you receive
  • It might not give you the freedom you want
  • You may not always get the same person providing your care

You might consider using an agency to provide support when your regular personal assistant is unavailable to provide short-term cover. Also, you might find that your needs are best served using a combination of services.

  • Selecting an Agency

If you decide to use an agency, make enquiries to get the best service and value for the support you require. Discuss your needs with the agency to ensure that they provide appropriate support at the right times for you.

As part of the government’s initiative to improve overall Care Standards, all agencies must be registered with the Care Quality Commission and will be expected to work to a minimum set of national standards. Once registered, an Agency is not allowed to charge VAT on its invoice to you.

If you’d like a list of Care Agencies, please contact us.

  • More about Agencies

Many Agencies employ their own staff and are therefore responsible for all aspects of their staff’s pay and employment.  In these situations, the Agency will send you regular invoices to pay for the support that they have provided.

Alternatively, some Agencies have set themselves up as an ‘Introduction Agency’ and will charge you an ‘introduction fee’ for providing you with one or more carers.  The carers they provide may class themselves as self-employed and if this is the case you will have to pay the carer yourself, rather than the Agency.  For more information about employment status please go to the Self Employed Personal Assistants page.

It is important that you always discuss with the Agency where their responsibilities lie and what the employment status of their workers is.  You should always insist on a written contract for services from an Agency.