Coronavirus: information and updates

Managing problems with your PA

You spend a lot of time with your PA, 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 Weekly COVID-19 testing

Personal assistants working in adult social care in England can access weekly COVID-19 testing.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for personal assistants (GOV.UK)

Being assertive

Try raising the matter with your PA informally.

Try using ‘I’ statements, such as

“I would like to talk about X.”


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

Take responsibility

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


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.

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, it makes me anxious.”

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

  • saying what the problem is and suggesting what you can do
  • talking about the situation rather than what your PA is like
  • mentioning the things that they do well

Listen to your PA and try to be flexible

Having a good working relationship means listening to each other. Your PA may also have comments or concerns about their role. You should also remember that your PA has a life outside of their job.

Having regular reviews can help you both share any concerns. These can be every couple of weeks at first, then every couple of months, depending on what suits you. 

Building a relationship with your PA

What to do if the situation does not get better

If you cannot resolve the situation informally, you can move to a formal process. Hold a disciplinary meeting to discuss it. Make sure everything is written down.

Disciplinary record template (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

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 for unfair dismissal.

Unfair dismissals (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

During the disciplinary process, you should record performance 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 PA has worked for you for less than 2 years, you can dismiss them with a week’s notice. If it has been longer, you should give a verbal warning and then a written warning before terminating their contract. Your PA may find it awkward to come to work during their notice period.

If your former PA takes you to an employment tribunal, seek employment law advice through a local law centre, Citizens Advice or someone with specialist HR knowledge.

Finding free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

Employment tribunals (GOV.UK)

Notice periods

If your PA has worked for you for less than 2 years, you can fire them with a week’s notice, unless their contract states otherwise. If they have worked for you for more than 2 years, the minimum notice period is 2 weeks.

The length of minimum notice period increases by a week for each year of employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. You should pay them as usual during this period.

Notice periods (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

If you are firing your PA because of gross misconduct, such as stealing or holding a party at your house without permission, you can dismiss them immediately.

Find an adviser (Turn 2 Us)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 16/04/2021

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