Employing a personal assistant to help you

Information and advice about employing a personal assistant.

What do I need to think about if I am paying someone to help me?

Employing your own staff (normally called a personal assistant), rather than using an agency to find them for you can give you a lot more choice and control over who you have to help you and what they do for you. However it can be complicated and will mean that you are taking on some extra responsibilities.

You will need to work out if your personal assistant is employed by you, or self-employed.

Someone is employed by you if:

  • you decide the hours that they work and what they do for you 
  • you provide them with the equipment that they need to do their job (this might be things like protective gloves or aprons for instance) 
  • you are the person who is responsible for arranging a replacement if they are absent from work 

The factsheets and websites below have a lot more information and advice about employing personal assistants: 

You might also find this HMRC Employment Status Indicator useful in deciding if your assistant is employed or self-employed.

If you use your direct payment to pay someone to help you on a regular basis, it is important to remember that the person will be treated as being in work for the hours that you pay them for, and this may affect some benefits and tax credits that they may be getting. They should tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and/or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about their work.

You may decide that you would like family or close friends to help you with being an employer, or you may want to use a specialist service to help you. 

Disability Rights UK has a free telephone and email advice line for self-directed support. This can include general advice about employing personal assistants. You can contact them on 0300 555 1525 or email selfdirectedsupport@disabilityrightsuk.org

ACAS also has a free helpline and web based advice service for employers. You can call them on 0300 123 1100.

From April 2015 family members who are helping you to be an employer, by helping you to manage your payroll system for instance are able to make a reasonable charge for helping you. If a family member or friend is helping you to manage being an employer, they should not normally also be a paid employee of yours.

  • You need to have a plan about how you will manage when your personal assistant is on holiday or off work sick, or if they take maternity or paternity leave.
  • You should make sure that your plan about how you will cover their absence is written into your support plan, and that your personal budget will allow you to cover these contingencies.
  • You will need to think about their rights to redundancy payments once they have worked for you for two years.
  • You will need to understand what legal rights your personal assistant has.
  • You need to make sure that you have  employers’ liability insurance in place.
  • You should also think about what you will do and where you will go for help if you have any dispute with your employee(s)

You do not have to, but we would encourage you to do so. It may help you to make a decision about whether someone you are thinking of employing is suitable if you know if they have a criminal record.

If you are going to employ a personal assistant there may be some costs such as advertising or paying for insurance up front. You should discuss this with the person from Suffolk County Council or Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust who is helping you to arrange your care, and they should ask for some additional funding to help you with these costs.

There are a number of options available to you to advertise for a personal assistant including Suffolk Jobs Direct.