Responsibilities when employing a carer

We all recognise that brain injury can have a significant impact on people’s lives. However, one issue that can get overlooked is the employment responsibilities that come with hiring a personal support worker, some of which are set out below.

Employment terms
Employment terms such as salary, hours of work, holiday entitlement and notice periods, are governed by legislation such as the working time regulations or the National Minimum Wage. Consideration should be given to ensure that terms are not in breach of legislation and the employee’s minimum entitlements are met. These can be particularly relevant for live-in support, or on accompanied holidays.

Employment documentation
A written statement of employment must be provided and careful consideration should be given to the wording of such documentation. To avoid future disputes, it should clearly set out the expectations of the role, employment terms (such as salary) and whether there are any specific requirements of the role, such as driving the service user to appointments. At this stage, it is also worth considering issues such as, what will happen to the employee if the service user is required to stay in hospital for any length of time.

Employment checks
When hiring a Carer, there is a legal obligation to check they have a right to work in the UK by obtaining, checking and copying their supporting documentation before they start. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks should also be obtained given the vulnerable nature of the service user and the type of work that the employee is likely to be performing.

As an employer, individuals may be required to register with the HMRC and provide their Carer with a payslip each month. Whilst there are a number of useful tools available to help with this, it must still be managed.

UK law states that all employers must enrol qualifying staff onto a workplace pension scheme by 2018, including those employing an individual in a personal care capacity. The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) scheme was set up by the government to offer employers a straight forward option for setting up the scheme and the ongoing management.

Options for managing these responsibilities
So, if the time comes that an individual needs the support of a Carer, there are a few options available to help manage their responsibilities:

  1. Using an agency
    By far the easiest option, this removes the employment responsibility. However, the lack of control over who delivers the care is often a deal breaker for people.
  2. Employment through their case manager or an HR service
    This option allows service users to be actively involved in selecting their carer(s) and agreeing the scope of their role, but removes some of the pressure. They would still be the employer in this instance, but their case manager would provide outsourced HR services to ensure that they meet the requirements. There are also insurance backed solutions to protect the service user from claims.
  3. Direct employment
    This is a more complex and time-consuming option as it means the individual is solely responsible for meeting their employment responsibilities. In reality, due to the vulnerable nature of service users, these duties will probably fall to a family member or an attorney/Deputy. If the individual chooses to pursue this option, then it is advisable that they seek independent legal advice.

Having the right care and support for a brain injured client is vital in allowing them to achieve the best possible outcome in their rehabilitation, but the best approach for employing a carer will vary according to the needs of the individual. The benefits of allowing the individual control over the support around them needs to be weighed up against the capacity to manage employment responsibilities.

Written by Glen Miles for the Brain Injury News. To read the full publication, click here.