Coronavirus: information and updates

Managing problems with your PA

You spend a lot of time with your personal assistant (PA) or personal care assistant, so it’s important to deal with performance or behaviour issues before they become major problems.

There are ways to deal with these matters without spoiling your relationship with your PA.

You might have issues with your PA:

  • not being punctual
  • not performing tasks in the right way or taking shortcuts
  • being dishonest, for example lying about time off
  • doing things that you would rather do yourself

Warning Free COVID-19 testing

Personal assistants are still eligible for free rapid lateral flow tests if:

  • they are self-employed
  • or if you employ them directly

Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests (GOV.UK)

Being proactive

Try raising the matter with your PA informally. Describe what is happening and how it affects you without blaming your PA.

Try using ‘I’ statements, such as

“I would like to talk about X.”

or

“Let me explain why I disagree with that point.”

Take responsibility

Suggest what you would like to do to address the issue.

Listen

Pay attention to your PA’s response and see if you can agree a way forward.

Be sincere and direct

Say what you believe the problem is.

Speak calmly and confidently

Write down what you want to say and practise if you need to.

Think about your body language

Try to maintain eye contact.

Get support if you need it

If it helps, have someone with you for support, like a friend, family member, advocate or social worker.

Giving feedback

Try to avoid blame and give constructive feedback.

Link everything that you say to specific examples, such as: “When you do X [say how this affects you or makes you feel]”

You could help your PA to look at the problem without being defensive by:

  • outlining a problem and suggesting a solution

  • talking about the situation rather than what your PA is like

  • also talking about the things that they do well

A good working relationship

Putting time and effort into the relationship is the best way to manage conflict.

Be honest about issues as they happen

Speak to each other honestly. This will help when issues arise.

Communicate and have regular reviews

Good communication can stop a problem from getting worse. It can be hard to say what you feel. Often people are too afraid of not being liked so they stay quiet.

Regular reviews can help you both share any concerns. You could have reviews every couple of weeks to start, then every couple of months, depending on what works for you.

The length of the review is not important, but it should be long enough to raise concerns and agree solutions. Make a record of what needs to be done, by who and when.

Have respect

The best working relationship is where you both see each other as people and not just an employee or employer. Remember, your PA has a life outside work. They should also treat you with respect.

Chat about everyday things

Talking about things outside your working relationship will help you to get to know each other. Talking in a way that makes you both feel comfortable can make your time together more enjoyable.

Be open to discussion and criticism

Listen to suggestions that your PA makes. You do not have to agree with them, but being open to different ways of doing things can help build trust and make your relationship stronger.

Find out if your PA has comments or concerns about their role. They may also have things happening in their personal life.

Raise issues early

If something happens that you do not like, talk about it before it becomes a problem. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, ask someone else you trust to do it with you. This could be a family member or an advocate.

Have a way to resolve problems and conflicts

Making time to talk about how things are going can help. You could meet every month to talk about how your support is working and how your PA feels about their work.

A poor working relationship

A relationship with a PA can go wrong if you have different expectations of:

  • what tasks your PA will do

  • what you need

  • the amount of work

  • the standards you expect

  • what your PA is trained or willing to do

  • time off

If you are not happy, it's important to discuss this openly with your PA.

If the situation does not get better

If you cannot resolve the situation informally, you may need a disciplinary meeting to discuss it.

Disciplinary procedure step by step (acas.org)

It’s particularly important if your PA has been with you for more than 2 years. This is because if you later dismiss them, they may be able to take you to a tribunal.

Unfair dismissal (GOV.UK)

During the disciplinary process, you should record performance-related issues and the targets that you have agreed.

Disciplinary procedures at work (GOV.UK)

Firing your PA

If informal and formal steps to improve performance do not work, you can dismiss your personal assistant. Because being a PA is not part of regulated professions there are no external tribunal procedures that you can pursue.

If your former PA takes you to an employment tribunal, seek employment law advice through a local law centre, Citizen’s Advice or another body with specialist HR knowledge.

Employment tribunal (GOV.UK)

Warning Check with your employment insurer

Check with your employer insurance before you fire someone.

Independent living insurance (Mark Bates)

Carer and employer insurance (Fish)

Notice periods

If your PA has worked for you for less than 2 years, you can dismiss them with 1 week’s notice, unless their contract states otherwise.

If they have worked for you for more than 2 years, you should give a verbal warning and then a written warning before terminating their contract.

If they have worked for you for more than 2 years, the minimum notice period is 2 weeks. Minimum notice period increases by 1 week for each year of employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

You should pay them as normal during this period.

Your PA may find it awkward to work for you during their notice period.

More on notice periods (Acas)

If you are firing your PA because of gross misconduct, such as stealing or intimidating behaviour, you can dismiss them immediately.

If you need further advice on issues with your personal assistant, you can call the Scope helpline.

Scope helpline 

Your local authority may also be able to put you in touch with a disability rights or advocacy service.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 04/04/2022

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

More about hiring PAs

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window