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Independent Living:
Expert advice and information

Employing a carer or personal assistant can help with living an independent life. Here you’ll find free, impartial advice and information to help you along the way.

Expert advice and guidance

Hiring a personal assistant or carer for you or a family member can help with living an independent life or supporting you in delivering much needed care or respite.

 

Here are some helpful tips and information from Fish Insurance for employing a carer or personal assistant.

 

We’ll keep this page updated, so you can stay up-to-date with the latest topics and discussions.

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What does an employee need?

 

You’re usually considered to be an employer of a carer if they are working directly for you and are not self-employed or paid through an agency.

 

As an employer, you have a number of responsibilities to your employee. Rules and regulations can change often, so we’ll endeavour to keep this page as up-to-date as possible. Below are several things you’ll need to consider before you even employ a carer.

 

What should I make available to my employee?

 

It’s important to ensure you have everything in place to offer your employee a comfortable and safe start to their employment with you:

 

• Employment contract, stipulating their job title, hours of work, place of work, salary, holiday entitlement, sickness, pension, and any notice periods or disciplinary action

• Ensure that they are not working more than the maximum hours allowed per week, which is 48 hours currently

• Have access to their pay-slips and ensure that these pay the National Minimal Wage

 

Dependent on your employee and their eligibility requirements, they could be entitled to a number of other workplace rights, such as:

 

• Statutory maternity pay

• Statutory sick pay

• Redundancy pay

• The workplace pension scheme

• Holiday pay

 

Knowing exactly what you should offer and who you should offer it to is vital for ensuring the health and well-being of your employee.

 

Please note this article is for information purposes only. Information accurate at time of posting, June 2017.

Tax and National Insurance payments

Although you are not running a company, it is still important to ensure that staff in your care go through the appropriate checks, receive the correct pay, and are taxed suitably. It is your responsibility as an employer to carry out these assessments. We give you some steps to think about below.

•   Either create your own payroll or outsource this to someone else – you will need to register if you wish to do this yourself
•   Ensure your potential employee can work in the United Kingdom
•   Ensure you have the appropriate employer’s liability insurance
•   Ensure that your potential employee has been checked by the Disclosure & Barring Service

 

Other responsibilities include sorting out Income Tax and National Insurance payments from your employee’s salary, as well as paying your employee for their appropriate benefits, such as sickness pay or if they are having a baby. Similarly, it is your responsibility to organise the amount of payment your employee is entitled to for mileage and if your employee uses their own car for work purposes.

 

Although employing someone is a lot of responsibility, it is important that whoever you employ is safe in their work environment, as well as ensuring you have enough implemented the legal requirements for your own discretion.

Questions about money

Confused about Direct Payments, Maternity pay, Sick pay, and ever-changing things like the Minimum Wage? We’re here to help.

 

We answer the most common finance questions from those employing carers below.

What are direct payments?

Whether it is yourself or someone else who is employing a carer, you may be eligible for direct payments. If you require care and support services, you will be assessed by social services. These direct payments can then be arranged to go directly to your employee i.e. your carer.

 

What is the current National Minimum Wage?

In order to receive the National Minimum Wage, your employee must be school leaving age. If they are 25 years old and over, they are entitled to the National Living Wage. The correct amounts as of April 2017 are:

 

25 and over – £7.50

21 to 24 – £7.05

18 to 20 – £5.60

Under 18 – £4.05

Apprentice – £3.50

 

How much is Statutory Sick Pay and what are the eligibility criteria?

Your employee is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or SSP, if they have completed some work for you whilst being employed; if they earn a minimum of £113 per week (before tax); and if they have been ill for at least four days in a row (which also includes weekends and non-working days).

Your employee is not eligible for SSP if they have already received the maximum amount from you, which is 28 weeks, or if they are currently receiving Statutory Maternity Pay.

 

How many days/weeks is the statutory annual leave (holiday) entitlement?

Your employee will be legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year, which is 28 days – as long as they are working for 5 days per week. If they are part time, they may receive fewer paid holiday days, but are still entitled to the same amount of annual leave.

 

My employee is pregnant and wants to take some time off work when the baby is born (maternity leave). How much time off are they entitled to and in what circumstances would they be paid?

Your employee is entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). They can take ‘ordinary maternity leave’, which is 26 weeks and ‘additional maternity leave’, which is another 26 weeks, totally 52 weeks.

Employees are paid SMP for up to 39 weeks. GOV.UK states that the amount your employee is paid works out as:

•   90% of their average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
•   £140.98 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks

Maternity leave guidance note

In this guidance note, you will find the guidelines on what to do when your PA tells you she is expecting a baby.

Scenario

One of my PAs has told me that she is pregnant. I am aware that she will get some time off but what other things should I be thinking about?

 

Checklist for employees going on maternity leave

• Ensure you pay your employee for any time off they take for ante-natal classes.
• Make sure that their work does not pose a health and safety risk to them.
• Confirm their maternity leave dates with them.
• Work out what pay they are entitled to during their leave.
• They can work for up to 10 days during maternity leave without their pay being affected.

 

Time Off

Your PA has various rights to time off now she is pregnant. She will get all types of time off listed below from day one of employment with you:

• Time off to attend ante-natal appointments. You can ask your PA for an appointment card as evidence of the appointment for all except the first appointment. You must pay her as normal even though she has the time off;
• 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). This can start, at the earliest, 11 weeks before the baby is due. OML includes 2 weeks of Compulsory Maternity Leave which are the first 2 weeks after the baby is born and your PA is not permitted to work in these 2 weeks;
• 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave. This will follow immediately after OML has finished so that your PA has an overall entitlement to 52 weeks off work.
• You should ask your employee how much time she will take off (up to a maximum of 52 weeks). If she does not confirm that she wants to take less than the maximum entitlement, you should assume she will take the whole year.

 

Risk Assessment 

• When your employee tells you she is pregnant, you must carry out a risk assessment. This includes reviewing the PA’s duties to identify if anything she does could cause harm to her. The risk assessment process should be ongoing as the pregnancy progresses.
• If the PA’s employment with you would place her health and safety at significant risk which goes beyond the normal level of risk found outside the workplace, you will need to consider making adjustments to her duties. If this cannot be done, consider whether you can offer her suitable alternative work. If there is no other suitable work, the PA will need to be placed on maternity suspension.
• If the employee has not told you already, you need to ask her for the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) so that you can confirm her entitlements. This request is included in the letter mentioned below which the Advice Service can provide.

 

Confirming Leave Dates

• Once your employee has told you she is pregnant, you should send her a letter explaining her entitlements to time off.
• The letter will depend on whether the PA is entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from you. For example, the PA will not be entitled to SMP if she has not worked with you for a sufficient amount of time, or if she does not earn over a specified amount. If she does not qualify, the letter should confirm this to her, with an accompanying SMP1 form;
• When your PA is able to confirm her EWC, you will then be able to tell her the earliest date she can take leave.
• You must ask the employee to confirm the date she wants to start her leave and how long she wants to take so that you can confirm with her the date that she is expected to return to work. If you do not confirm the expected return date, you will not be able to take any disciplinary action if she fails to return on the day you expected.
• Once leave has started, the employee can come back to work earlier than she had previously notified by giving you 8 weeks’ notice.

 

Contact During Maternity Leave

• Ask your PA if she would like to be kept up to date with any developments or useful information regarding her employment while she is on leave. It is important to note that if a redundancy situation arises while she is on leave, she must be contacted and consulted with.
• Your PA can work for 10 days during her maternity leave (not including the compulsory leave element) without her statutory maternity pay (if she gets it) being affected. These days must be agreed with you before they take place.

 

Annual Leave

• Your PA will continue to accrue annual leave during her leave at the usual rate.
• Because your PA may be on leave for up to 52 weeks, this could mean that she will have accrued at least 5.6 weeks’ leave which must be taken i.e. it cannot be paid in lieu.
• It is advisable, therefore, to discuss with your PA before she goes on maternity leave what will happen to her annual leave e.g. she takes her remaining annual leave for the year before she goes on maternity leave, or tags some on to the end of her maternity leave before she comes back to work.

 

Returning to Work

• Your PA has the right to come back to the same job if she comes back within or at the end of the OML period.
• If she comes back during or at the end of the AML period, she has the right to come back to the same job but if this is not reasonably practicable, a job which is of no less seniority.

 

Statutory Maternity Pay

• Your PA may be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay (SMP) from you.
• SMP is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks. The first 6 weeks of leave are paid at 90% of normal earnings, and the remaining leave is paid at the rate of £139.58 per week. If 90% of what the employee earns is less than £139.58 per week anyway, her entitlement throughout the whole of the leave period is 90% of normal earnings.

 

Content of this guidance note provides an overview of Employment Law based on the law as it stands at the time of writing (December 2016); the content of this guidance note does not constitute advice.

 

Disciplinary guidance note

In this guidance note, you will find the guidelines on how to conduct a disciplinary process.

Scenario

I have a PA who is giving me cause for concern. There are a few things: she brings meals to me that aren’t cooked and my other PA tells me she is often texting on her mobile phone when she is not meant to have it on her during working hours. These things cannot continue so I would like her to stop doing them.

 

Checklist for carrying out disciplinary procedures

• Do a thorough investigation. You need to gather sufficient evidence from which you can ascertain if there is a potential case to answer
• Hold a hearing with the employee so that they can give you their side of the story
• Make a decision on whether a sanction is appropriate and issue a sanction
• Allow the employee to appeal

 

Investigation

• Carry out an investigation – this usually involves gathering and collating documentary evidence, CCTV footage or witness statements, and/or an investigatory meeting with the employee themselves.
• Sometimes, suspension will be necessary.
• Send the employee a letter inviting them to an investigation meeting.
• The employee has no statutory right to bring someone with them.
• The results of your investigation will determine whether you commence action, and if so, whether it is formal or informal.

 

Formal or informal 

• Consider whether to deal with the issue informally rather than formally.
• Sometimes an informal discussion can put the employee back on the right track.
• You should follow up an informal discussion with a letter of concern. Whilst not a formal document, it confirms that you spoke to the employee about these concerns.

 

Invitation to Hearing 

• Where the formal approach is preferred, send a letter to the employee to invite them to a hearing giving them sufficient notice.
• Explain in detail the reason for the hearing and setting out the date, time and location.
• Set out all of the allegations that you want to raise in bullet point form in the letter.
• The employee has a right to bring either a colleague or a trade union representative with them to the hearing.

 

At the Hearing

• Discuss each issue of concern with the employee and allow them to respond.
• Probe their answers, challenging them if they are vague.
 Ensure that you give the employee the opportunity to put across their side of the story to each point that you raise.
 Summarise what the employee has said and ask them if there is anything more they want to add.
• Both parties should read and sign the minutes of the hearing.
• Tell the employee you will consider what they have said and will inform them of the decision shortly.
• Take minutes are taken of the hearing, verbatim if possible.

 

Decision

• Examine the evidence carefully and evaluate whether there is enough to create a reasonable belief that the employee did act in the way alleged.
• If you find that the employee has no case to answer, send them a letter closing the procedure.
• If you feel that a disciplinary sanction is appropriate, decide which level of sanction.
Consider the severity of the offence, current warnings, any mitigating circumstances including length of service and consistency with any previous sanctions for similar offences.
Inform the employee of your decision and follow it up in writing, setting out your reasoning.
• Inform the employee of their right to appeal your decision.

 

Content of this guidance note provides an overview of Employment Law based on the law as it stands at the time of writing (December 2016); the content of this guidance note does not constitute advice.

 

Resignation guidance note

In this guidance note, you will find the guidelines on what to do when your employee resigns.

Scenario

One of my PAs told me yesterday that she will no longer be working for me because she has found another job. This has come as a bit of a surprise because I thought she was happy.

 

Checklist for dealing with an employee’s resignation

• Ask for written confirmation if resignation is given verbally
• Ascertain whether the employee has any grievances; if there are, deal with them
• Ensure the correct notice periods are given
• Make sure the employee receives all pay upon termination that they are owed, including accrued holiday pay

 

Written Confirmation

• If your PA has told you verbally that they will no longer be working for you, ask them to put their resignation in writing.
• Speak to the employee about why they are resigning. This is so that you can get an initial indication as to whether the reason is related to work they do for you or not.

 

Grievances

• Consider whether the reason for the resignation includes any complaints about the work or the working environment – if so, look into these.
• If these should be treated as grievances, consider asking the employee to reconsider their resignation.
• Be aware that some complaints may not be blatant, but something that you can discern from your conversation.

 

Ongoing Disciplinary Procedures 

• If an employee resigns during a disciplinary procedure and you ask them to reconsider their resignation, remind them that if they do retract their resignation, you will still proceed with the disciplinary process as normal.

 

Notice Periods 

• Employees must give you a notice period when they resign.
• The exact amount of notice they must give will be set out in their statement of main terms of employment, but the minimum will be 1 week’s notice if they have been with you for a month or more.
• You can agree with the employee to shorten the notice period if you are both happy to do this.
• Send the employee a letter confirming the last day of their employment.

 

Pay

• Calculate the employee’s final pay, including any holiday pay they have accrued.
• The amount the employee should be paid during their statutory notice period can be affected by many things so it is important to take specific advice about this.

 

Content of this guidance note provides an overview of Employment Law based on the law as it stands at the time of writing (December 2016); the content of this guidance note does not constitute advice.

 

Sickness absence guidance note

In this guidance note, you will find the procedure to follow when your PA has regular short periods of sickness absence.

Scenario

My PA calls in sick quite a lot. Each time, she is only off for one day, sometimes two. When I ask her what’s wrong, it is always a headache, or a cold, for example. I have another PA working for me but only having one when I should have two makes it very difficult. The absence brings about a lot of uncertainty because I never know if she is going to phone in sick again.

 

Checklist for dealing with an employee who is off sick

  • Speak to employees when they come back from sickness absence to find out what the problem was
  • Keep track of how much time employees are having off as well as the reasons
  • Use formal procedures if sickness absence levels are unacceptable
  • Keep attendance under constant review

 

Return to Work Interview

  • Hold a return to work interview with the employee after every absence. You do not need to give the employee any notice of the meeting. Using a template form will ensure that you always get consistent information from the meeting.

 

At the Meeting

  • Note down the start times and dates of the illness, and the dates of absence so you can determine whether Statutory Sick Pay is payable.
  • Even if the employee gave the reason for their absence when they called in sick, you should still ask them again at the return to work interview. Note it down.
  • Explore the reason for the absence.

 

Invite the Employee

  • Once you decide to take action against an employee for repeated absence or for another reason related to their absence, send the employee a letter inviting them to a formal hearing. Set a date, time and location for the hearing, giving sufficient notice.
  • Tell them that they have the right to bring a colleague or a trade union representative.

 

At the Hearing 

  • Explain to the employee the nature of the meeting and tell them that the level of their absence has started to cause concerns.
  • Allow the employee to make representations regarding the amount of absence they have had.
  • Tell the employee that you will provide the outcome to them shortly.
  • Take notes of the hearing, verbatim if possible.

 

Outcome

  • Inform the employee of your decision in a letter.
  • If you decide to take any kind of action, you should inform the employee of their right to appeal your decision.

 

Appeal

  • If the employee appeals your decision, send them a letter to invite them to an appeal hearing in the same way that you invited them to the initial hearing. If possible, the appeal hearing should be held by someone other than the person who held the original meeting.
  • Inform the employee of their right to bring someone with them.
  • At the appeal hearing, allow the employee to put forward their grounds for appeal. At the end of the hearing, tell the employee that you will consider what they have said and inform them of the outcome shortly.
  • Take notes of the hearing, verbatim if possible.
  • Inform the employee in writing of your outcome, whether that be to uphold the original outcome or overturn it.

 

Continual Review

  • Continue to monitor the employee’s sickness absence.
  • If any absences occur within the duration of any disciplinary warning you have given them, begin the procedure again, increasing the disciplinary sanction as appropriate.

 

Content of this guidance note provides an overview of Employment Law based on the law as it stands at the time of writing (December 2016); the content of this guidance note does not constitute advice.

 

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