Personal Assistants

What is a Personal Assistant (PA)?

A Personal Assistant (PA) is someone who is employed to provide some of the personal and domestic everyday care and support needed to enable people to lead an independent personal and social life.

What does the role of PA involve?

A PA helps the person they support to take control of their lives by giving assistance at the time when it is needed and in the way it is needed. A PA’s role is to give the person they support the ability to lead an independent life in their own home or workplace.

A PA can be employed to do a variety of tasks, ranging from domestic and personal care, working entirely within the home, helping with child care, looking after pets or help with leisure and social activities such as escorting their employer  to the hairdressers, doctors, library, cinema, sports centre or assisting in the workplace during their employer’s working day. Here is a list of possible duties of a PA that they may be asked to do.

Who decides the role of the PA?

A PA can be employed by an Agency or directly by the person needing the support. In either case, the person being assisted will define and control the job role of the PA. It is important for the PA to understand that their role is to assist their employer to lead an independent life. As an employee the PA will also have legal rights. To see these rights please go to the ‘Legal Rights of an Employee‘ page.

What skills and experience are needed to become a PA?

Each PA’s job description may differ depending on the needs of the employer and the level of support needed. Due to the close working nature of personal care, sometimes other things may be more important than actual skills and experience. For instance a PA needs to be reliable, punctual, efficient and flexible. Because the PA will be involved in the everyday personal life of their employer, they will need to be loyal and discrete. There will need to be respect and understanding on both sides between the PA and employer.

Some training may be needed, for example in lifting and handling, personal care or basic food hygiene. Your local Council will be able to advise you where training is available in your area.  Or the PA and the employer may decide that for personal development, the PA should have a formal qualification such as offered by QCF with funding from Skills for Care. For more details on training for PAs visit the Training page.

Should I use the services of a self-employed PA?

Some of our members are self-employed PAs and some employ self-employed PAs and this seems to work very well.

Not everyone, however, is eligible to be self-employed and employment status is determined by HMRC.  The HMRC website has an Employment Status Indicator (ESI) tool which enables you to check the employment status of an individual or group of workers – that is, whether they are employed or self-employed for tax, National Insurance contributions (NICs) or VAT purposes.

If you use the services of a self employed PA then you should check that they provide insurance and have a service contract and complaints procedure etc and must provide you with an invoice.  The invoice may be required by your council as evidence of spend of your Direct Payments.

You must satisfy yourself that they are registered as a business for tax purposes or you could be liable to pay Employers National insurance if HM Revenue & Customs determine that they are not eligible for self-employed status.  Any outstanding employer’s NCI or tax will be backdated and you will receive a demand from HMRC for this payment.

Where do I find work as a PA?

If you want to apply to become a PA there are a number of people who can help. Your local Council may be able to help. The local Job Centre will advertise PA roles.

If you are looking for a job as a PA you can search and apply for jobs via the internet on the DirectGov website.

The Situations Vacant in your local newspapers or advertisements in local shops may advertise PA jobs. A variety of organisations advertise nationally for example PA Pool, Penderels Trust, Gumtree, the Rowan Organisation (please note we do not recommend any particular organisation or company, simply give examples of available support. For any support agency that would like to be listed please contact us).

If you would like to become a PA and are receiving benefits, Direct Payments or Individual Budgets, your local Council or the benefit enquiry line would be able to advise you on how many hours you could work before your benefits would be effected. The benefit enquiry line is a confidential phone service for disabled people, carers or people representing them. The benefit line number is 0800 88 22 00 or textphone 0800 24 33 55 from 8.30am – 6.30pm Monday – Friday and 9.00am – 1.00pm on Saturday. (If you need to use a textphone, one may be available at your local library or Citizens Advice Bureau.)

Your local University or College may have a graduate placement or recruitment department.



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