Coronavirus advice and support

*Please note whilst we aim to keep this updated as much as possible, things change on a daily basis. Please refer to your insurance company for advice around employment at all times and seek medical information from the NHS.

Your Direct Payments Information and Advice team:

Until further notice, so that we can continue to support you as best we can, the Information and Advice line will only be open from 9.00am - 4.30pm with all advisers working remotely. If you are unable to get through to an adviser, please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Please do not select to go through to another department as they will be unable to provide the information and advice you require.

Thank you for your understanding during this time.

The Payroll Team:

Please note, if you use our payroll service, your team are working some of their hours in the evenings and weekends to ensure the service runs as smoothly as possible in these challenging times. They may therefor, not be able to answer the phone like you would normally expect during the day. The best thing for you to do is email [email protected] to provide your hours. Phone messages will be checked daily.

This will be reviewed weekly, and as soon as we are able to resume normal service we will.

Information on how to keep safe

How do I protect myself or people I support from Coronavirus?

The government has published new adult social care guidance to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19. The news story is available online https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-adult-social-care-guidance-to-protect-the-most-vulnerable-against-covid-19

What is Shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. We are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. More information, including which groups are classified as very high risk, here.

Personal Protective equipment

New COVID-19: guidance on residential care, supported living and home care is also available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

Please note in particular the sections on 'what to do when a resident or someone you are supporting has COVID-19' and the following website has useful information on how to manage hygiene https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/infection-control/

West Sussex County Council have also released this useful information on PPE: 2020_03_26_COVID-19_PPE_National_Guidance_Tables.pdf

If you don’t have internet then please do call and we can try to print the information you are requiring.

Where can I get personal protective equipment (PPE) from?

Independent Lives is keeping in touch with Local Authorities and the NHS about how DP employers can access PPE supplies should they run out and not be able to purchase them via normal means.

Croydon - We have been advised that local GPs have received a supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and so should there be confirmed cases of Covid-19 PPE supplies could be obtained from there. All other times Direct Payment employers should use their usual safety apparatus (gloves etc.) when delivering safe care and support.

West Sussex – We are working closely with the Council and NHS to ensure access to PPE at this time. Updates will be provided via our website.

EBay and Amazon online – we have also noticed a number of suppliers on here. Alternatively there are some companies you can contact directly:

PPE Suppliers: - please note we cannot guarantee they have stock

Delivernet  https://shop.delivernet.co.uk/contact-us/  [email protected]

Careshop    https://www.careshop.co.uk/ - telephone 0161 848 4000

Blueleaf care       https://www.blueleafcare.com/       they’re on 03300 55 22 88.

Countrywide Healthcare https://www.countrywidehealthcare.co.uk/get-in-touch  [email protected]

Employment Information

Employment of Personal Assistants

Are Personal Assistants key workers?

We now have confirmation that personal assistants (PAs) are included in the definition of a Health and Social Care key worker. If being challenged they might need to carry a copy of their contract of employment and Job description, and or a letter from the employer. If you would like to see an example letter please call us.

If the DP employer (or cared for person) is self–isolating then you would have to carry out a new risk assessment for your PA. If the assessment comes back that the risk to that person is minimal such as they don’t have an underlying health condition or a high risk person within their household then they are still ok to work using enhanced hygiene practice.

I don’t want my PA to come to work

If you feel it is safer for you, for your Personal Assistants to not come to work (a period of lay off) for example you are high risk, or are in a high-risk household and believe you can manage for the advised 12 weeks without the need for care or your employee provides social care which isn’t needed as you’re self-isolating, the Government is encouraging you to protect your employee’s job in the new Government Job Retention Scheme.

This scheme is allowing a leave of absence with pay ‘Furlough Leave’. The Government will pay 80% of your employee’s salary to make this possible. This scheme is running for an initial period of three months.

Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but the PA must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. The PA can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.

You will need to talk this through with your Insurance Company. They can help you draft a letter to your PAs.

Please check your Personal Assistants contract of employment as this might state enhanced payments in periods of ‘lay off’ which is similar to Furlough leave. For example, 4 weeks full pay, you would have to pay them 4 weeks full pay then you could go down to 80% for the period after. If there is no enhanced pay clause then you can pay them 80% of their contracted pay from day one.

The period you can continue to do this has initially been set for 12 weeks by the Government but it is advisable to put in the letter to your PA that this is subject to your Direct Payment not being stopped or reassessed at any point.

If you are going to use Furlough leave, as with all employment changes, please talk it through with your insurance provider.

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, if they earn above the Lower Earnings Limit then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp

The statutory sick pay (general) (coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force Friday 13th March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance - no need for formal written notice to be given by medical officer as we have previously been advising. Definition of 'Persons deemed incapable of work' now includes:

(i) isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland(d) or Public Health Wales(e) and effective on 12th March 2020; and

 (ii) by reason of that isolation is unable to work.

NOTE this amendment is set to automatically expire 8 months unless otherwise removed by statute.

If they do not quality for SSP 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 and they are not high risk to you or themselves, you are within your right not to pay them as essentially there is no grounds for why they have not turned up for work.

Please bear in mind this is an exceptional time which people are going through, so you may decide they can take annual leave or unpaid leave. This type of scenario isn’t want the government are classing as Furlough as the work is still there.

You might want to seek advice from your insurance company to see if there is a disciplinary aspect to this or if Furlough could be applied as daily the Government are releasing new information and have not yet released all guidance around Furlough.

My Personal Assistant cannot work due to childcare

If your Personal Assistant’s children need to stay at home because of school closures, they can apply for a reasonable amount of unpaid dependant’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 https://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.

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

Below you'll find a link to a webinar recording where people gathered online to discuss tactics and practical tips for people & families who have a direct payment through a personal budget or health budget. Listen in to hear Miro Griffith, Will Case, Liz Wilson and Karen Saville who manage their direct payments who shared the protocols they have put in place for themselves and their PA’s.