There comes a time in many people’s lives when they need a little extra help and they consider getting a carer to look after them in their own home.
The big advantage of at-home care is that you can retain your independence while staying close to your informal support network.
Read more about the pros and cons of live-in carers.
But what you may not realise is that when you employ a professional carer directly, you actually assume the role of employer – with all the red tape that involves.
The same applies no matter whether you are employing someone on an hourly basis, or to live with you full-time.
So what exactly are your responsibilities?
If you hire a carer, you will be expected to pay him or her at least the current national minimum wage.
From October 1, this will rise from £6.50 an hour for adults over the age of 21 to £6.70.
From April 2016, the national living wage will rise to £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and older.
If your carer lives with you, you must check the rules on the value of accommodation you provide.
You can count this amount as part of your employee’s pay. It also counts towards the national minimum wage.
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Tax and National Insurance
As an employer, you may also be responsible for deducting tax and national insurance (NI) contributions from your carer’s wage.
These must be recorded and paid to HM Revenue & Customs. The amount will be based on how much your carer earns.
If you have never calculated tax payments before, you may feel concerned about being responsible for this.
However, your local social services will be able to help you with the HMRC forms you need to fill in.
Time off and sick pay
Having assumed the role of employer, you will have to ensure your employee gets the rest breaks, holiday pay and sick pay they are entitled to. It’s important to note that even part-time workers are entitled to holidays – and usually to sick pay as well.
In addition, you will have to set the number of working hours per week, taking into account the fact there are limits on the number of hours a worker is expected to work in the course of seven days.
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Providing a written statement of employment
If you employ someone as a carer for one month or more, you must create an employment contract.
This is designed to protect both the employer and the employee.
This written contract should include details about the rate of pay, hours of work, holiday entitlement, sick pay guidelines, and notice periods (usually one month from either side.)
If you employ a carer, you will need to take out employer’s liability insurance. This covers you financially if your carer has an accident or is injured while carrying out work-related duties.
Without this cover, you could be held directly responsible for any injury or compensation claim from your carer.
You should also consider Public Liability Insurance. This covers you for any damage or injury that you – or your carer – cause to another person while your carer is working for you.
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If you are usually cared for by a family member or relative, you may want to call in a professional carer occasionally to give your regular carer a well-earned break.
This ‘respite care’ is usually provided by the social services department of your local trust.
Saga Charities also offers a small number of respite care holidays every year – eligibility details can be found on the Saga Respite for Carers Trust website.
Generally speaking, if you have a respite carer for a period, employment responsibilities do not apply.
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