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Direct payments: being an employer

You may be using your direct payments to employ a personal assistant (PA). If so, the information on this page is intended as a guide to assist you in being an employer. You should also look at our useful links below to other websites that have lots of helpful information and advice to support you. Our forms and leaflets page has all the documents you will need to assist you in being an employer, such as examples of job applications and contracts of employment.

Skills for Care information hub

Skills for Care is a UK based organisation which provides practical tools and support for adult social care employers. Their website contains a designated section for individual employers who may choose to employ a PA via direct payments which can be found at the following link:

Employing Your Own Care

Skills for Care also have their own Information Hub for personal employers which contains useful material and advice on the whole process of recruiting and employing a PA. This also includes a Personal Assistant Toolkit which contains useful information booklets and templates for employers recruiting a PA to provide care and support. This Information Hub can be found at the following link:

Employer Information Hub

Your responsibilities as an employer

If you choose to use your direct payments to employ a personal assistant, you will have certain responsibilities such as complying with HMRC to paying your PA holiday pay, and it is important you are aware of these. Useful Information on employing someone can be found at the following government website link:

Employing People

If you employ your own Personal Assistant you are required under the terms of your direct payment agreement to have current employer's liability insurance. Please see the attached for further information which includes the details of providers who offer this type of insurance:

Employer's Liability Insurance

Guidance for employers during COVID-19 period

We are aware that these are difficult times and we understand that our customers will be understandably anxious. We will endeavour to do our best to help you continue to receive the care you need or access alternative support as appropriate during this period. To assist our customers with this we have put together some helpful information. 

If you employ people to meet your assessed care needs we appreciate that you will have many questions. We have enlisted the help of Mark Bates (Premier Insurance) who have provided some employer advice listed below regarding COVID-19 that should answer any queries you may have.

COVID-19 Information Leaflet for Employers - this leaflet provides useful guidance for employers.

COVID 19 Furlough Guide for Employers - this document provides advice for employers who may need to furlough (temporarily lay-off) staff during this period together with information on the government supported Job Retention Scheme.

COVID-19 Self-Employed Guide - this details useful information for your staff which you employ to meet your assessed care and support needs.

Furlough FAQ – this document contains frequently asked questions concerning furlough leave which you may find helpful.

Shielding Confirmation Letter – here is a template letter you can use to inform your PA if you have to undertake a COVID -19 shielding period.

Furlough Leave Letter – here is a template letter you can use if you have to furlough your PA during the COVID-19 period.

Job Retention Scheme (JRS) guidance for Direct Payment Recipients – this provides new and updated government guidance confirming the circumstances in which the JRS can be used by direct payment employers and personal assistants.  

If you use a different insurance company or payroll provider than those which we recommend then please contact them directly so that they can provide you with the advice and guidance you require.

COVID-19 National Testing Programme for Personal Assistants

From April 17 2020 the COVID-19 National Testing Programme has been extended to include personal care assistants. If you employ your own personal assistant to meet your assessed care and support needs they can now use this service. Please find below government advice which explains the process for you as an employer to follow if your personal assistant develops symptoms and requires testing.

Invitation to Register for Testing – this explains how to register your PA for testing, the procedure to follow at the test centre and lists all regional testing sites within the UK. This document also contains a Confirmation of Employment and Eligibility for Testing letter which you will need to complete for your PA to take to the Testing Centre.

Eligibility for Testing this advises which types of workers are eligible for testing under the National Testing Programme as agreed by the Department of Health and Social Care.

COVID-19 Testing for Personal Care Assistants this provides useful information for employers and personal assistants on testing for frontline workers together with Frequently Asked Questions about the testing process.  

National Testing Programme Strategy – this details the government's COVID-19 testing strategy.

COVID-19 regular home testing (PCR tests) kits for personal assistants

As you may be aware, the Government has developed a weekly testing (PCR tests) scheme for Personal Assistants. Whilst testing of Personal Assistants is not mandatory, we strongly recommend that any Personal Assistants that you employ do undertake the weekly testing (PCR tests). These PCR tests are important as it helps to find individuals with the virus who have no symptoms so that they can isolate and stop the spread of the virus.

PCR Tests Registration for Personal Assistants (GOV.UK) – this provides all information on the Government PCR Testing Scheme for Personal Assistants together with the link and instructions for Personal Assistants to register to receive PCR home testing kits. 

Personal Assistants and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Customers receiving direct payments normally purchase their own PPE from their preferred supplier and should continue to do so. If you are experiencing issues with lack of supply or pricing, please report this to your local authority adult care service or CCG and ask for assistance. Please be assured work is ongoing nationally to monitor and manage the supply of PPE.

If you employ your own PA you should undertake a risk assessment concerning your PA and the use of PPE. Below are extracts from Public Health England Guidance COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) updated 17 April 2020 which provides advice on safe ways of working for all health and care workers:

  • staff should be trained on donning and doffing PPE. Videos are available for training.
  • staff should know what PPE they should wear for each setting and context.
  • staff should have access to the PPE that protects them for the appropriate setting and context.
  • gloves and aprons are subject to single use as per SICPs with disposal after each patient or resident contact.
  • fluid repellent surgical mask and eye protection can be used for a session of work rather than a single patient or resident contact.
  • gowns or coveralls can be worn for a session of work in higher risk areas.
  • hand hygiene should be practiced and extended to exposed forearms, after removing any element of PPE.
  • staff should take regular breaks and rest periods.

Covid-19 guidance for those receiving direct payments – this provides the latest government guidance for customers receiving direct payments during the current pandemic and is regularly updated with the latest advice.  

PPE Leaflet – this is a leaflet from the insurer we recommend with useful advice on how to source PPE.   

We hope the above information is helpful but if you are experiencing any issues and need support or wish to speak to someone please contact the Direct Payments Team at   

Related websites

  • ACAS - information and advice on employment issues.
  • GOV.UK - advice on many different areas, including your responsibilities as an employer.
  • Carers Support Merton - help and advice for carers in Merton.
  • Useful Websites for Employers – links to websites providing information and guidance for employers.