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Hiring a carer in 2020 – what you need to know

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The role carers play in society is invaluable. Carers provide additional assistance to people who need it, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions and disabilities. When a carer takes care of a person in their own home, it can help the individual to maintain their independence while making the more difficult daily tasks much more manageable.

Carers assist with all sorts of duties, which can include:

  • The preparation of meals
  • Assistance with medication
  • Driving their client on days out or to appointments
  • Personal care (assistance with dressing, hygiene, and other tasks)
  • Shopping
  • Other personal tasks, such as contacting people on your behalf

If you employ a carer directly, rather than through a care agency, it means you are classed as an employer. This brings a certain number of responsibilities towards your employee. Before hiring your own carer, here are some things you should consider:

Wages

By law, you will be required to at least pay your carer the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage. Some carers may set their own rates of pay based on their skills and experience, and you may wish to negotiate a wage based on these.

The minimum wage usually changes every April. For 2019-2020, the current minimum wage rates are as follows:

  • Age 25 and over: £8.21
  • Age 21 to 24: £7.70
  • Age 18 to 20: £6.15
  • Under 18: £4.35

If your carer will be required to work sleep-in shifts (where they will be staying over in case you need care during the night), then working out their pay can be a little trickier. Check out our article on paying wages for sleep-in shifts for more information.

You might be entitled to Direct Payments if you need help with care

Paid leave & time off

As an employee, your carer will have an entitlement to holidays, sick pay, and any other time off required by the law. As an employer, you’ll be able to decide how many days’ holiday you provide your employee with, as well as setting their sick pay rate, as long as it falls in line with current employment law. In 2019, UK full-time workers are currently entitled to 28 days of paid holiday a year. This can include Bank Holidays if you wish. Employees who are too sick to work may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, which would be paid by you and equates to £94.25 per week in 2019.

As well as protecting your employee’s rights when they want to take time off for holiday or sickness, there are laws in place which prevent employees from working too many hours as well. The maximum working hours you set for your carer should comply with the restrictions and limits as per the law. In 2019, employees cannot by law work more than 48 hours a week on average, unless they formally opt out of the ’48-hour week’. If your carer is under 18, they can’t work more than 40 hours a week (or 8 hours a day).

Workers are also entitled to one 20-minute break each day, if they work more than 6 hours in a day. These breaks don’t have to be paid, and whether the employee receives payment will be subject to your employment contract. This contract should highlight the role, responsibilities and tasks of the employee to help set out your carer’s expectations and avoid any disputes.

Insurance

When hiring a carer, you’ll be required by law to get Employers’ Liability Insurance to protect you in case your employee claims compensation if they’re injured or become ill because of the work they do for you. This insurance is a legal requirement, and without it you could run the risk of being fined up to £2,500 for each day that you’re employing someone but are not covered. It is therefore essential to sort out a policy before your carer starts working for you.

Public Liability Insurance should also be considered. This is optional but will protect you against any injury or damage your carer causes to another person while they’re working for you.

Fish Insurance specialises in offering insurance for those with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions and our Independent Living insurance includes both Employers’ and Public Liability cover, protecting you if your employee injures either themselves or someone else while working for you. You can find out more about the other benefits of our insurance cover here.

Right to work in the UK

Any prospective employees will need to be vetted to make sure they can legally work in the United Kingdom. During the recruitment process, you should request to see passports and other ID, including visas if necessary. You should also make copies of these documents for your own records.

Employees should also be aware that potential changes to legislation after Brexit could affect an employee’s status to work in the UK. While no changes to legislation have been made at present, this could potentially change.

Valid DBS checks

All people who work with vulnerable adults and children are required by law to undergo DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks. The purpose of these checks is to highlight whether any prospective employees have a criminal record, and whether they are suitable for a role as a carer. For example, some crimes may prohibit certain individuals from working with vulnerable people for a definite or indefinite period.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that all prospective employees applying for a role as a carer have valid, up-to-date DBS checks. It is important to obtain a copy of this documentation before offering a prospective employee an interview.

Please note that this content was correct at time of publication (30.12.2019). From time to time, changes in regulation may impact the accuracy of the information provided.

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