Information & Guidance
Glos Assistants does not give any professional advice on employment matters and does not take responsibility for the decisions you make and the relationships you establish using this website. You will deal directly with each other throughout the process. However, we provide guidance, best practice and information on where you can find extra support and guidance to ensure you are well informed throughout the process.
Rates of Pay
If you are going to employ an assistant, part of your legal responsibility will be to ensure you pay your employees at least the minimum wage. Guidance on the current minimum wage can be found on the Gov UK Website. Further advice about rates of pay for assistants can be found on the Disability Rights UK Website.
Being employed or self-employed is not just a choice. There are legal criteria that must be met. In most circumstances it is likely that an assistant will need to be employed rather than self-employed. The person engaging the assistant could still be legally liable as their employer if you have not checked together that someone declaring themselves self-employed is legally entitled to that status. Both the assistant and the person engaging them should check the assistant’s employment status using the HMRC’s on-line checking tool and phone advice line. This will establish whether the assistant’s working arrangements make them eligible for employed or self-employed work.
Employer's Liability Insurance
If you are employing an assistant you have a legal obligation to take out Employer’s Liability Insurance, regardless of how many hours they do or whether they are a friend or relative. Many people in Gloucestershire use Fish Insurance or Mark Bates Ltd, but there are other specialist insurance providers that can provide similar cover.
If you are asking someone to drive your car, whether it is a Motability car or your own car, you must make sure they are covered on your insurance policy. You should also check that they have a driving licence that meets the requirements of your policy. If they will be driving you/your child in their car they should be insured on their policy to use their car for work.
If you are an assistant and are asked to drive the person you support in your car your insurance policy must cover using it for work. Check with your provider if you are already covered for this and how you can add it to your insurance if not. If you are asked to drive their car you must check you are covered to do so on your/their insurance.
There is further information about driving in our Keeping Safe pages.
Other employment Matters
Taking on a paid assistant comes with significant responsibilities. You become an employer, with responsibilities regarding pay, tax, terms and conditions of employment, holiday leave, insurance, etc. Make sure you look carefully at the Skills for Care ‘Employing Personal Assistants’ toolkit. For more personal help, contact one of the Direct Payment Support Providers who can help you manage your new responsibilities. In order to run a DBS check on your assistant you will need to approach one of those Support Providers who will process the DBS check for you.
The Support providers that are able to perform DBS are as follows:
- Penderels Trust
- People Plus
- Compass Disability Service
- The Rowan Organisation
- Pay Partners
You can also find information on the ACAS (Accreditation, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) website on employment matters.
The advice in the excellent Skills for Care toolkits linked from this page - Employing Personal Assistants and Being a Personal Assistant - has been written for disabled adults and the assistants they employ.
Most of the Skills for Care toolkit advice applies equally where a disabled child is being supported by an assistant. The most significant difference is that, whereas a DBS check may be appropriate for an assistant supporting an adult, a DBS check is a legal requirement for anyone acting as an assistant to support a child (or where an adult has a child living or visiting their home when an assistant is there).
Look carefully at the Keeping Safe section of this website too where there is advice about DBS checks for those supporting children and adults and a variety of helpful good practice guidance.
Supporting a child under eight
Other than a babysitting arrangement between 6pm and 2am or as a member of the family, any individual being paid (or receiving other ‘reward’) to care for a child under eight in the absence of the child’s parent for more than two hours a day is not considered to be a personal assistant. In most circumstances they are legally required to register as a childminder with Ofsted. See the government website for more information.
Volunteering can work well when somebody genuinely wishes to offer their help free of charge – not just because the person engaging them is looking for a cheap option. It can feel less formal and more friendly than a paid relationship, and it is organisationally simpler not to have the responsibilities specifically related to employment.
Nonetheless, establishing the voluntary relationship properly is important for the protection of all parties. Being clear about expectations and ensuring the safety of everyone involved are just as important as in a paid employment relationship. Don’t cut corners because ‘it’s only a volunteer.’
If support is being provided by a volunteer, much of the guidance on this website and in the Skills for Care toolkits will still be relevant. Be aware that guidance relating to formal employment will not apply. Nothing in the arrangements for volunteering should imply any kind of employment relationship.
It is important that the nature of the voluntary relationship is clear and written down. Avoid any implied contractual relationship – eg avoid using the word ‘work’. The person seeking assistance should write and agree a ‘role description’ with tasks listed.
We suggest using/adapting the Volunteer Role Template and Volunteer Agreement linked in the panel on this page.
Our guidance regarding keeping safe applies equally whether voluntary or paid assistance is being given. Look especially at the advice regarding references, interview and DBS checks. An eligibility to work check may still be required for non UK citizens, even though there is no employment relationship. See our 'Keeping Safe' pages for more information.
Issues around whether you might need insurance, either when engaging a volunteer assistant or when being a volunteer assistant, are unclear. If you are concerned, we suggest you take legal advice yourself by approaching a solicitor in the first instance.
If you and your assistant establish together through HMRC that someone can legitimately provide support on a self-employed basis, the Skills for Care toolkits will still be of value, but the employment sections will not apply. Go to www.gov.uk/topic/business-tax/self-employed for guidance. Anyone acting as an assistant who employs another person to help them will need to register with the Care Quality Commission - www.cqc.org.uk
If you and your assistant take joint advice from HMRC and establish that self-employment is appropriate, make sure that your assistant shows you proof of their own liability insurance – public liability cover is a minimum; a copy of this should also be kept for your records.
Ensure that there is something in writing that states the nature of the service being supplied by the assistant, including the fact that they will be responsible for invoicing you for their support costs (i.e. their wages and their own tax and national insurance). They should also have a Unique Taxpayers reference for tax self-assessment. We advise that they show you evidence of this.
If you employ your assistant you can apply for funding from Skills for Care to pay for training for you and your assistant. Click here for more information on the types of training you could do and how to apply for funding.
If you are an assistant click here for a practical guide on learning and development to help you support your employer and grow in your role
The relationship between a disabled person and their personal assistant is unique. This free course can help you to better understand and manage this working relationship so you can work together more effectively.
Multi agency training
Multi agency on-line training on a wide variety of relevant topics is available free of charge through www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/multiagencytraining We recommend the excellent one on ‘PA induction’. That site also includes a course on ‘mental capacity’ which may be useful where the person you are supporting has very limited ability to make decisions for themselves.
We strongly recommend assistants to do Gloucestershire’s on-line safeguarding training ‘Safeguarding adults’ training: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gsab/i-am-a-professional/safeguarding-adults-training-important-information/
‘Safeguarding children’ training: https://www.gscb.org.uk/safeguarding-training-development-and-events/
Active Impact runs a one-day ‘Introduction to Inclusion’ training course in Gloucestershire as part of its Inclusion Needs You training programme. Whilst designed principally for people working in community groups and activity providers, it includes discussion of issues around disability and inclusion which assistants will find useful. See www.activeimpact.org.uk/inclusion-needs-you-training/ and contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For training related specifically to the individual being supported, see our 'Keeping Safe' pages.