Employing a personal assistant or carer

This information applies to England and Wales.

Hiring a personal assistant (PA) to help with your daily needs can make life easier. Before you recruit someone, make sure you understand what you need to do legally when employing a PA.

These rules apply if you’re hiring a PA to work for you and you have a contract. You are an employer. They are an employee.

These rules do not apply to you if:

  • an employer, such as a local authority or care agency, provides your personal assistant
  • your PA is self-employed


Check the contract with your PA is legal

Your PA might not be self-employed if their contract says they must work a set number of hours. If your PA is able to send someone else to do the work, this could change their self-employed status to a:

Check employment status (Citizens Advice)

If your PA is a worker or employee, you need to pay their National Insurance. You must also make sure they get what they’re entitled to, such as holiday pay.

Before you hire a PA

There are a few things you’ll need to do before hiring a personal assistant.

Register as an employer and take out liability insurance

You should register as an employer 4 weeks before your PA starts work.

It’s also important to take out employer’s liability insurance. Display your insurance certificate. This will cover you against your employee having accidents at work. If you and your PA will be leaving the house frequently, you may also need to take out public liability insurance.

If your PAs are funded by direct payments, your local authority covers employer’s liability insurance.

Register as an employer (GOV.UK)

Employer’s liability insurance (GOV.UK)

Check photo ID

Make sure the person is who they say they are.

Check they have the right to work in the UK

By law, you must check your PA’s right to work in the UK. You will need to keep a copy of the documents they provide.

Check if a document allows someone to work in the UK (GOV.UK)

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

A DBS check, formerly known as a CRB check, checks the applicant’s criminal record.

Your PA should have a DBS check. Ask for this as a condition of employment.

Checking an applicant's criminal record (GOV.UK)

DBS update service (GOV.UK)

Check the PA’s references

Get at least 2 references:

  • a professional reference from a previous employer
  • a personal reference from someone who is not a direct family member and has known the applicant for a number of years

It’s better if the personal reference is from someone with a position of trust in the community, such as a youth club leader, teacher or health professional.

Create an employment contract

An employment contract is an agreement. It should describe the job and the tasks required, the hours of work, pay, holiday and notice periods. Include the job description as part of the contract.

When you employ a PA, you should give them a contract when they start. Legally, you must agree on a contract before they have been working for you for 2 months. During the probation period you can dismiss someone without giving a reason.

You may wish to include a probationary period of 3 to 6 months in the contract. This makes it easier to dismiss someone early on if they are not suitable.

Managing problems with your PA

Employment contracts and conditions (GOV.UK)

Working hours (Citizens Advice)

Holiday pay (Citizens Advice)

Agree on how you will pay your PA

This could be weekly or monthly by bank transfer. Do not pay in cash. Decide what is best for both of you. If your personal budget is monthly, it makes sense to pay monthly.

Set up a pension for your PA

You should set up a pension for your PA if they will earn more than £10,000 a year and are older than 22 but younger than State Pension age.

You can use the NEST workplace pension scheme set up by the government to do this for free. Some local authorities may help you set this up.

NEST workplace pension scheme

Setting up a pension (GOV.UK)

After you hire a PA

There are things you must do after you've hired your PA or support worker.

Pay at least the National Minimum Wage

You should pay your PA at least the National Minimum Wage. You can decide how much you pay above this level. But if you pay too much, you might run out of personal budget. You may choose to pay your PA the living wage.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates (GOV.UK)

Run a payroll

You will need to deduct Income Tax and National Insurance from your employee's wages and pay these to the HMRC (tax office). You must run a payroll to calculate the amount of pay and tax deductions. You can pay an accountant or a payroll service to do this.

Run a payroll (GOV.UK)

Income Tax (GOV.UK)

Employer’s National Insurance contributions (GOV.UK)

You might want to use software to help you run your payroll and automatically calculate any salary deductions. Your personal budget should cover the cost of using it.

Advice on using payroll software (GOV.UK)

You must submit your payroll and pay to the tax office every month by cheque or bank transfer. Give your personal assistant an electronic or paper payslip on or before payday. Payroll software can produce these for you or you can use an online template.

Payslips (GOV.UK)

Provide holiday and sick pay

You must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if your PA is eligible. You can pay more if you wish.

Holiday pay must be at least 28 days but you do not have to give Bank Holidays as paid leave. Your employee's contract can say they only get sick pay and holiday pay after the probationary period.

Statutory Sick Pay (GOV.UK)

Holiday pay entitlements (GOV.UK)

Provide maternity or paternity leave

You must pay maternity leave or paternity leave to eligible employees.

If your PA suffers a bereavement, you can choose to give compassionate leave, with or without pay, but this is not compulsory.

Maternity leave (GOV.UK)

Paternity leave (GOV.UK)

Warning Smoking

If you smoke in the house, try to hire someone that does not mind.

Unless you always smoke outside, you might have to make a plan that works for both of you, such as always smoking in the same room or opening a window afterwards.

It is illegal for your PA to smoke in your house, car or any inside space when they are working.

Help employing a PA

Government guidelines on employing staff (GOV.UK)

Before your personal assistant starts guide (Skills for Care)

Templates for employing a personal assistant (Skills for Care)

If you have questions about what you can do with your direct payments, such as whether you can employ family or have a live-in personal assistant, ask your local authority or your local centre for independent living.

Ask your local authority (GOV.UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 16/04/2024

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