Becoming an employer
The person you look after will become an employer if they use a direct payment from social services to pay a care worker. If you are receiving direct payments on behalf of the person you look after, you may find this information about employing someone helpful. The employment contract is between them/you and the employee and does not directly involve social services.
Many families welcome the freedom and flexibility this offers in their choice of care worker. They can interview and select the person they would most like to provide their care. In some cases they can employ someone they already know - a family friend, neighbour, or even a relative.
However, there are also responsibilities that go with being an employer. These are a few examples of what you would need to do:
- Check the references of the intended employee.
- Set up a system for paying wages and produce a wage slip.
- Deduct income tax and national insurance contributions and keep appropriate records.
- Find out if the intended employee has had an up to date Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
- Ensure that the employee has the annual leave they are entitled to under ‘Working Time Regulations’.
- Do a health and safety check to ensure that there are no potential dangers in the disabled person's home.
- Assess whether the care the disabled person needs, such as lifting, could put the employee at risk.
- Make sure that the employee has suitable insurance cover.
- Make sure you/or the disabled person and the potential employee both have employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance – these are sometimes included in a comprehensive household insurance policy. For further information see www.businesslink.gov.uk
- Account to the Inland Revenue for the deduction of income tax and national insurance contributions.
- If the employee becomes ill or pregnant you will be liable for the normal payments that employers have to make. You must ensure your direct payment has enough of a 'contingency' element to meet all your legal responsibilities.
This is not a definitve list and people considering becoming employers must ensure they seek advice on their full responsibilities.
Whilst this may seem daunting, in many areas of the country there are organisations which will help you with recruiting and the paperwork involved, including a payroll service. They will ensure all legal requirements are met and give you advice and help with recruitment. Ask your local social services about this or contact the National Centre for Independent Living.
It is also possible to employ personal assistants through private agencies rather than advertise directly, although the costs will usually be higher. The agency may have taken to steps to check references, obtain a CRB check or ensure that the personal assistant has insurance cover, but you will need to confirm this with the particular agency you use.