Market Development

Being employed as a Personal Assistant

Whether you are thinking of a short term placement or longer term career as a Personal Assistant it will be your job and you will be part of a professional employer - employee relationship with the person you are supporting, who will have a number of legal obligations and duties around the way you are employed.

In addition, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) have developed a statutory Code of Practice for the Employers of Social Care Workers setting out how employers of social care workers (including Personal Assistants) should treat their employees (detailed more fully in the section 'How you should be treated' below). Employers who break their legal obligations to you or who do not follow the code of practice may face sanctions.

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE (for example from HM Revenue and Customs, Legal or an Accountant) ON YOUR OWN PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

To help you consider whether you are employed or self employed, you may want to review the following documents, that may support you with your discussions with your professional advisors.

In January 2012, Disability Rights UK invited HM Revenues and Custom (HMRC) to a Direct Payment event they hosted. Karen Earl, Projects & Events Organiser at Disability Rights UK, forwarded a summary of the presentation HMRC gave at the event, providing some guidance around the employed / self employed question. Access the HMRC Presentation summary document. Microsoft Word 87kb Delegates were also provided with a contact at HMRC, Jill Poole (jill.poole@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk), telephone 0121 697 4063 (correct as at April 2012).

The Support With Confidence Team, East Sussex County Council, have also put together a factsheet, entitled 'Guidance on the employment status of Personal Assistants' Microsoft Word 324kb. Whilst some of this information is localised to East Sussex, it may help you consider your own circumstances and who you might wish to contact more locally.

The North East Association IEP recently commissioned Peter Fletcher Associates Ltd to develop a report titled The Invisible Workforce – Developing PAs in the Adult Social Care Workforce' which identified general advice from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that Personal Assistants should not be treated as self employed but as employees.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being employed as a Personal Assistant can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.

 

What will be required from an employer will be unique to the employers personal circumstances and expectations. However some thoughts, that you may wish to consider, on the general expectations of employers are highlighted below.

Thoughts from discussions in Hampshire

The thoughts below were co-produced with current and potential Hampshire based PA employers through a range of discussions and workshops. They indicated that it was primarily the following personal skills that they were looking for when recruiting and when working with their Personal Assistants:

- Ability to communicate in different ways

- Not to be ordered around or ‘controlled’

- For all matters to be treated confidentially

- Someone who has an ‘emotional’ drive and who wants to provide 1:1 support

- A flexible attitude and a willingness to try - a ‘can do’ attitude

- Initiative, reliability and honesty

Picking your Pathway project

ARC and Independent Living Alternatives (ILA) received funding from Skills for Care to look at the training needed by Personal Assistants. The project was called Picking your Pathway and involved discussions with a number of Personal Assistants and Personal Assistant employers across the country. Their final report contains a list of the requirements of a good PA, with the key areas that were highlighted as most important being:

- Communication and listening

- Understanding confidentiality

- Understanding disability

- Honesty and trustworthiness

- Knowing the individual

- Respect

- Empathy

- Specific skills, including First aid, Moving and Handling, Medication and Health care.

Employment Aspects and workforce implications of Direct Payments research

In 2008, IFF Research, commissioned by Skills for Care, produced a report titled 'Employment Aspects and Workforce Implications of Direct Payments' (access this here) that looked at the relationship between the employer and the Personal Assistant.

It showed that satisfaction levels were high among the direct payment employers, with the majority very satisfied with their current Personal Assistant, valuing in particular their friendly and empathetic attitudes and the respect offered to them as employers.

Those that had previously received 'traditional services' rated their current arrangements, with personal Assistants, more highly for their increased reliability and punctuality, for enabling access to more support outside the home, and greater help with healthcare tasks.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being employed as a Personal Assistant can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.

 

As you will be applying for a job it is very likely that, as with other job applications, any recruitment process may include:

- Requirement for the completion of an application form based on a job description and person specification

- References from previous employers may be required

- An expectation to attend an interview

- Interview questions that may be individualised and relate to the employers circumstances and interests

- A CRB check may be required

- Evidence to prove identity and ability to work in the UK will be required

- You may be asked about your health, within current legislation, and a risk assessment may be required to ensure you are able to fulfil the job requirements

- Once appointed, a contract of employment that will detail terms of employment should be issued

- There may then be a two way probationary period that will allow either party to leave the arrangement following a stipulated time

What is it that employers may look for?

In 2008, IFF Research, commissioned by Skills for Care, produced a report titled 'Employment Aspects and Workforce Implications of Direct Payments' (access this here) that looked at the relationship between the employer and the Personal Assistant.

It identified that employers of Personal Assistants tend to value personality traits over proven skills and experience when it comes to selecting Personal Assistants. When recruiting, only one in ten specified particular qualifications and a fifth specified previous experience.

Learning from Personal Assistant Employer support services

There are a wide range of organisations that support Personal Assistant employers with all aspects of recruiting and employing Personal Assistants. You may wish to consider looking at some of their pages in order that you can get an understanding of the sort of advice and information that Personal Assistant employers are getting in order that you can prepare yourself for the recruitment process.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being employed as a Personal Assistant can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.

 

When you start your job you should be provided with a formal induction. This should cover such things as providing information on the layout of your workplace, such as fire exits and location of toilets etc., instruction on how to use specific machinery such as lifting equipment/hoists etc. and training in relation to Health and Safety Awareness, Moving and Handling Awareness etc.

Ideally the minimum you may want from an induction is:

- All health and safety aspects(there is a legal requirement on your employer for this)

- A clear outline of the job/role requirements and an explanation of your terms and conditions

- An understanding of your employers culture and values, including the kind of lifestyle they have, and what their expectations are for your attitude and approach when working for them

- A clear set of 'house rules' as although it is your workplace, you are likely to spend time in your employers home and need to be clear about how it should be treated

- Meeting any other Personal Assistants who are employed

- To understand what training you are likely to receive and when you will receive it.

Induction may be undertaken in a number of different ways:

- A formal course or programme of learning;

- Shadowing or working alongside an experienced colleague;

- Completion of a workbook, checklists and other forms of open learning; or

- A combination of all three.

but you should expect to receive your induction as soon as you start your employment.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being employed as a Personal Assistant can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.

 

General Social Care Council (GSCC) Code of Practice for the Employers of Social Care Workers

The GSCC Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers sets out the responsibilities of employers in the regulation of social care workers. The codes apply to all employers of social care workers, whether in the private, voluntary or statutory sector. It is statutory, and plays a key part in regulating the social care workforce and in helping to improve levels of public protection.

Your employer should make you aware of the code, which could be introduced to you as part of your induction and may be part of your ongoing appraisal and may be a part of your ongoing professional development

The codes place a duty on your employer to:

- Make sure you are suitable to enter the workforce and understand your roles and responsibilities

- Promote, and have written policies and procedures in place to enable you to meet, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) Code of Practice for Social Care Workers

- Provide training and development opportunities to enable you to strengthen and develop your skills and knowledge

- Put in place and implement written policies and procedures to deal with dangerous, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice

Duties and obligations of your employer

There is a range of employment, health and safety and other laws and guidance that your employer should be meeting. Some of the key expectations you may have of your employer may include:

- Having a contract of employment clearly showing what is expected (job description), which should include details of any specialist or unique circumstances / requirements as well as, amongst others pay, hours of work, place of work, notice periods and any end of employment requirements.

- Clarity over rates of pay, which will be based on skills / experiences, and hours of work.

-.Clarity about where you will be expected to work and the working environment (equipment availability, clothing, what parts of the environment are private).

-- maintaining your health and safety (including conducting appropriate risk assessments as required).

- Formal supervision and appraisals (two way process) leading to clarity over professional and personal development.

- Identification and provision of appropriate training and development.

- An opportunity for you to discuss your issues with your employer - formally and informally as agreed.

In addition your employer should ensure, in partnership with you, that you have the required skills to be able to do your job and should support you with your ongoing professional development. The sort of support that employers should provide you with to develop your skills is highlighted at Skills for Care - Supporting your Personal Assistant to gain the skills they need. However, you also have a responsibility to develop your own skills, further information on how you might be able to do this can be found on these pages at Professional Development for Personal Assitants.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being employed as a Personal Assistant can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.