PA Network Scotland

Personal Assistants - Employed or Self-Employed does it really matter???

Having researched and consulted with a wide number of people regarding this issue we feel it is important to publish some information regarding a topic that is becoming more and more common today.


The general consensus is that Personal Assistants should be ‘employed directly’ by the person they support ie. Employed; indeed many say that it’s not possible to be a self-employed Personal Assistant.

For example here are a couple of quotes we have received –

‘SPAEN (Scottish Personal Assistants Employer Network) having done extensive research into this with a number of stakeholders including HMRC our advice is that it is highly unlikely that anyone working as a Personal Assistant would be considered as being “genuinely” self-employed for the purposes of Tax and National Insurance.’

‘As far as we are concerned within North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership a Self Employed Personal Assistant cannot exist’

The following points should be considered –

  • Self Employed individuals decide when they start and stop work. No Personal Assistant should ever decide when they work, what kind of work they do, how much they charge for that work nor should they provide a substitute when they are sick or on annual leave.
  • Self Employed individuals arrange for cover when they are sick or on holiday themselves. If a Self Employed PA does this then they are effectively acting as an agency and as such should be registered with the Care Inspectorate
  • Self Employed individuals must provide their own public liability insurance and would need to provide a copy of the certificate as proof that this is in place. They must also provide all their own equipment needed to do the job; they cannot use anyone else’s equipment.
  • Self Employed individuals decide what job they are doing at any particular time. I am sure individuals would not be happy if they missed a hospital appointment because their PA decided to go do something else instead
  • Self Employed individuals should be able to produce a letter from HMRC stating that they are a Self Employed Personal Assistant; it is unlikely that this would be given.
  • Self Employed individuals state how much they are going to charge for each particular job. The PA employer should decide how much they are willing to pay and no payment should be made to anyone who is self-employed without first getting an invoice.
  • A self-employed person does not qualify for the benefits that an employed person does for example paid holidays, sick pay, regular guaranteed income, pension entitlement, redundancy cover etc.

There is also the inherent risk to an individual who employs a PA on a self-employed basis in that if that person does not pay their tax and National Insurance then HMRC will most likely ask the employer to pay this. People can be employed on a seemingly self-employed basis but in the eyes of the taxman and under tax law it can later be determined that their relationship was actually employer/employee. This again could be bad news financially for the employer.

Despite all the research there are still grey areas but we believe the best option for both the Personal Assistant and the employer is to go down the tried and trusted route of being employed as it offers much more protection for both parties.

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