Using your Direct Payment to employ staff (Personal Assistants)
Get the exact help that you need
You may decide that you want to employ your own staff to provide some (or all) of the care and support that you need. This can be a very good way to get the exact help that you need and you can choose the staff who work with you and when.
Staff employed by People who use Direct Payments are often called Personal Assistants and the range of help they can offer you includes;
- personal care
- helping you to get washed and dressed,
- household tasks such as cleaning or shopping
- help with paying bills;
- accompanying you to work and social events.
The things that you use your Direct Payment for MUST be based on what has been agreed in your Care and Support Plan. If you want other help you can still use the same Personal Assistant(s) but you will need to fund this yourself from your income (such as benefits and wages) or your savings.
If you choose to employ your own staff legally you become their employer and you will then have a number of legal, financial and practical responsibilities such as:
- advertising for staff, interviewing and recruiting
- employment contracts, supervision and training
- employers liability insurance
- paying wages, national insurance and income tax
- sick pay, maternity pay and holiday pay
- arrangements when your staff are unable to support you e.g. when they are ill.
Help and information for Direct Payments employers
If you are interested in employing your own staff there is a lot of help and information available. You can have help to support you to employ your own staff, this can be:
- information about what being an employer will mean on a day to day basis
- help to find and recruit staff
- help to write contracts and set up the correct insurances
- help to set up your wages system (payroll arrangements)
- ongoing payroll help
National based sources of information include:
- Direct payments and personal budgets (NHS choices)
- Employing People
- Employing someone to work in your home (Gov.uk)
- Information HUb for Employers and Personal Assistants (Skills for Care)
If you are interested in Direct Payments or choose to take your Personal Budget as a Direct Payment the worker who is helping you will discuss the support you might need and your options for getting this. The council has an arrangement with a local support service to help people who use their Direct Payments to employ their own staff and the worker who is helping you will talk with you about how this service can support you and will make sure that you are put in touch with the appropriate part of the service.
Finding a Personal Assistant
There are several ways that you can find a Personal Assistant. Milton Keynes Council has a Personal Assistant Register, or you may already know a suitable person. You can also advertise, the local support service can help you with this.
Self-Employed Personal Assistants
It is very important to be clear if the Personal Assistant that you use is employed by you or is self-employed. Someone may be registered as self-employed for another job they have but this may not apply to the job they will have when working for you. You should check this with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), they do not often recognise a Personal Assistant as being self-employed for tax purposes. You must be absolutely sure before you make any contractual arrangements with potential staff.
If the person is recognised as self-employed by HMRC you will not become the employer. They must provide you with insurance cover and they can choose if and when they work for you. Please be aware that if HMRC decide at a later date that the person is employed, you may incur additional costs as you could become liable for tax and national insurance payments backdated from when they started working for you.
Last Updated: 4 March 2020