Personal Assistant Employer's Handbook

Basic information about what you need to know if you are considering using Option 1 - a Direct Payment becoming a Personal Assistant (PA) employer

PA employment status

The following are basic definitions of whether a PA is employed or self-employed:

Employed - If you are employing your assistant, they are likely to depend on you for some or all of their regular income, and will be entitled to sick pay, holidays and a notice period for example. This makes a significant difference to your relationship with them and your own personal responsibilities.

Self-employed - If your assistant is self-employed you may be paying for services provided by the hour or by the job, on a regular basis or not. They will decide when they are able to work and what they are able and willing to do. You simply pay the bills as they come in and have no responsibility for the sick pay, holidays or National Insurance payments of the people who come to work for you. These are taken care of by the person doing the work, or the business which employs them.

Generally speaking, if you require your PA to carry out tasks or perform services for you in the following circumstances, they will be your employee rather than a self-employed person:

  • if they provide support to you in your home
  • if they provide support at specific times each day or week (although these may be varied by mutual agreement)
  • if they provide support in the manner that you determine (i.e. you are in control)
  • if they are paid at an agreed hourly rate for the time he/ she spends working for you
  • if they provide support personally (and cannot send a substitute in his/her place)

If you are already a PA employer and are unsure about the employment status of your PA(s), you should contact Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC):

Your PA's employment status will be based on the circumstances of your support.

If you are thinking about buying your support from a self-employed PA you should contact your local support organisation. You should also contact your social worker/care worker to check what the local policy is on self-employed PAs. This can help to ensure that you have all the information about using a self-employed PA and it can help you to make a fully informed choice.

More information can be found on the HMRC website:

If you need any information and support about employment law, contact the Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPAEN).

Tel: 01698 250280



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