You may decide to use your direct payment from your personal budget to employ a personal assistant (PA) directly rather than use an agency to support you. The information on this page will guide you through the process. If you do hire your own PA you will need to know your responsibilities as an employer.

Your responsibilities

Managing the employment of a PA means you will have to take responsibility for employment matters, such as:

  • recruitment and preparing an employment contract
  • checking references and carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
  • calculating wages, tax and National Insurance -– you may wish to use a payroll service provider from our payroll service providers list
  • ensuring health and safety criteria are met – please read our Health & Safety Guide for Direct Payment Users and Personal Assistants 
  • managing annual, maternity, paternity and sickness leave
  • arranging employer’s liability insurance (see below)
  • you must also fill in a contingency plan form in case your PA cannot work (this is also compulsory)

Skills for Care information hub

Skills for Care, an independent charity and Department for Health and Social Care partner, has an information hub on its website which has advice on the entire process of recruiting and employing a PA, including a Personal Assistant Toolkit which contains booklets and templates.

Employing a PA

If you decide to hire a PA directly instead of using agency workers, there are two options:

  1. Payroll PA – if your PA does not have self-employed status you will need to enrol them with a payroll company to ensure they are paying the correct tax and National Insurance and receiving their correct annual holiday entitlement. We can advise on how to set up your PA with a payroll company. 
  2. Self-employed PA – it is your responsibility to check if their self-employed status is correct. This is important for tax, National Insurance, employment law and pension reasons. 

If employing a self-employed PA you will also need to:

It is forbidden to pay your PA in cash and could result in your direct payment being suspended or terminated.

Your PA should start work on the day your agreement starts and you should agree all the terms of their employment, including when they will be paid, before their start date.

Employer’s liability insurance

You must purchase employer’s liability insurance (ELI). as soon as you employ a payroll PA. It protects you as an employer against any accidents or if your PA becomes ill because of the work they do for you.  

Your policy must cover you for at least £5 million. You can choose to use any insurance provider that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

We recommend these two companies because we have checked and approved them:

Fish Insurance 
Telephone: 0333 331 3770

Mark Bates Ltd
Telephone: 01476 514478

Employing family and friends

Direct payments are not intended to replace existing support networks within the family and community. For this reason you may not normally use direct payments to employ close family members living in the same household. (There are rare exceptions that need to be approved by us.) 

For more information about support for carers, see: Caring for family and friends

Using an agency

If there is a particular agency you would like to use, please let us know. Otherwise, we can provide an approved agency list, to choose from. 

If you are already receiving community-care services, you can continue with your current agency or change agencies if you find one that is more suitable for your needs. 

Please note: if the agency you use charges more than the direct payment rate you will have to pay the additional amount into your direct payment account to cover this.

Contact us

For more information contact our Direct Payments Team. 
Telephone: 020 8545 3415