My personal assistant has symptoms

If your personal assistant lets you know they have symptoms, as described by the government guidelines, a cough or temperature requiring them to self-isolate, or they are at risk themselves due an underlying health condition (click here for more information), if they earn above the lower earnings limit (on average £120 per week over the past 8 weeks) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.

www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp

If your PA cannot work because of COVID-19, they could get statutory sick pay if they’re self-isolating because:

  • they or someone they live with has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19
  • someone in their support bubble has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • they’ve been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery

They could get statutory sick pay for every day they’re off work. They cannot get statutory sick pay if they’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

If they do not quality for statutory sick pay please sign post them to this link for possible financial support i.e. universal support or employment support.

Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

My personal assistant isn’t ill but they don’t want to work

If the personal assistant self-isolates through choice, when current guidance does not require it, you should take into account these exceptional times and offer the opportunity to take annual leave or unpaid leave. However, where there are no grounds for why they have not turned up for work, they should not be paid, other than for any annual leave available to them.

You might want to seek advice from your insurance company to see if there is a disciplinary aspect to this.

My personal assistant becomes ill at work

If your personal assistant becomes ill at work, you should send them home for ten days from the onset of symptoms. If you would be unsafe without assistance and are unable to get anyone else to provide it, you and the personal assistant may decide that care should be continued in the short term ensuring use of PPE and social distancing. You should document this and the reasons you made this decision.

My personal assistant won’t self-isolate and I think they should

If your personal assistant is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or has told you that members of their household have symptoms but proposes to continue working, contact Independent Lives or your funder for support in enforcing government guidance.

You may want to talk to your insurance provider to see if there is a disciplinary aspect to this.

My personal assistant is in the very vulnerable (shielded) group but wants to continue working – can I allow this?

Shielding is currently paused, so personal assistants should attend for work unless they need to self isolate. At this time it is wise to increase your hygiene and health and safety procedures so you are doing everything you can to prevent the risk of spreading infection between you. Make a written record of steps you have taken to protect each other.

Should I be asking my personal assistant to work from home?

No as shielding is currently paused.

My personal assistant cannot work due to childcare

If your personal assistant’s children are unable to go to school or usual child care, they can apply for a reasonable amount of unpaid dependent’s leave to care for children.

They may also be able to take unpaid parental leave (up to four weeks per year per child) or you could ask to take annual leave. Please see: www.gov.uk/parental-leave

My personal assistant is stranded abroad

If your personal assistant is stranded abroad because their borders are locked down, the personal assistant would not be paid as they have not turned up for work. If as an employer you are happy to extend their annual leave then this could be an option. There are no disciplinary aspects to this.

The government has completed a guide for employees or you could contact ACAS if you would like some independent advice or your Insurance Company.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

There has been a website page set up called ‘Coronaheroes’ for people and families to help share useful links, practical tips and ideas that people who manage their direct payments have put in place for themselves and their personal assistants. There are webinars on employment, contingency planning, accessing care - all of the webinar recordings can be found at www.be-human.org.uk/coronaheroes

Can I use my direct payment differently?

You can change the support and/or services you receive but you must be careful to fulfil your responsibilities as an employer and the terms of any contract with an organisation you are purchasing care from. 

The government expects local authorities and clinical commissioning groups to continue to give you as much flexibility as possible in how you use your direct payment. What matters most is that you are able to use your direct payment in a way that allows you to stay safe and well, and continue to get the care and support you need.

Where possible, you should keep using your direct payment as agreed in your care and support plan. There may be situations where you need to organise your care and support in different ways as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Ideally, you will have agreed this with your usual contact person at your local authority or clinical commissioning group, but it is understood that this will not be possible every time.

Further details are available in the DP guidance available here.

Can I employ a temporary personal assistant?

This may be a way of ensuring you get the care you need. The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the adults’ and children’s barred lists free-of-charge to PAs being recruited in connection with the care and treatment of COVID-19.

These arrangements will provide employers with the option to appoint new PAs to support adults and/or children, as long as the new personal assistant is not barred and appropriate measures are put in place to manage the individual until the full DBS check is received.

If you wish to employ a close family member as a temporary personal assistant, or if the planned temporary arrangements would cost more than your current direct payment, you must contact your funder.


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