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Finding and recruiting a Personal Assistant

Recruiting a PA might seem like an intimidating process, but it does not need to be. 

We've broken the process down into steps. You can watch our short video to understand the steps involved.

Employment process steps

Before you recruit a PA, you should write a job description.

  • A job description outlines the tasks that you would like your Personal Assistant to do and how you would like them to support you. 

What to consider when writing the job description and person specification: 

  • If you have a care plan, are there any specific requirements you should include?
  • Are there any skills in particular you want your Personal Assistant to have? For example, do you want a PA who can drive or who has experience with certain medical conditions? 
  • What tasks do you want the PA to do for you? For example, do you require personal care, meal preparation, transport, etc? 

A person specification lists the experience, skills and personal qualities that you would like your Personal Assistant to have. 

Some things to consider might be:

  • What values do you want the PA to have? Do you want them to have a good sense of humour or to be patient? 
  • Do you have any cultural and religious needs and do you want to employ someone who understands them? 

Once you have confirmed what tasks you would like your Personal Assistant to complete or support you with and you have determined what skills and values they should have, you are ready to write the job advert. 

Writing a job advert on PA Web is easy and works as follows: 

  1. Create an account on PA Web – this should only take a few minutes. 
  2. Visit the ‘Matching Tool’ area of the site and click ‘Create new advert’ 
  3. Complete the advert form. 
  4. Browse our bank of Personal Assistants in your local area and choose which PAs you would like to send your advert to. 
  5. Wait for PAs to respond to your advert, they will send you a message on PA Web. 
  6. Access your adverts and responses at any time by logging into your PA Web account. 

You can find out more on our How PA Web Works page. 

When writing your job advert, there is certain information that you should include: 

Location 

You should tell people your general location so that they know where they would be working, but it is important that you do not give out your address at this stage.  

Rate of pay 

There are laws around rate of pay that you need to follow. You will need to pay your Personal Assistant: 

  • at least the national living wage to workers over 24 years old 
  • at least the national minimum wage for workers aged 24 or under 

If you receive a personal budget or direct payment, your adviser or local support organisation may have details about standard hourly rates. 

According to Skills for Care, the average hourly rate for PAs was £9.53, as of February 2020. 

Curriculum Vitae (CV) 

When using the PA Web ‘Finder’ tool, you can ask PAs to attach their CV in their response to your job advert.  

References 

It is usual to ask for two references, these can be from previous employers. 

Once you have received responses from PAs, you should review their applications or CVs and shortlist the candidates that meet your criteria, deciding who you want to interview. To help you do this, you could use the job description and person specification to rate the applications. 

You must ensure that you do not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of protected characteristics – these include age, race, gender or sexual orientation. If you need any further information around this, you can contact ACAS who can offer free and confidential advice. 

When you have decided which PAs you would like to interview, you should contact them and arrange for them to meet you for an interview.  

Where  

If possible, you should complete interviews away from your home. This is to ensure your safety and privacy.  

It is best to find a public place that is relatively quiet, such as a room in a library or community centre, so that you are not disturbed and can focus on the interview. 

You could ask your local JobCentre, library or a support organisation if they have a room you can use for your interviews. If you are a personal budget or direct payment recipient, your adviser might be able to help you find a place to complete the interviews.  

Prepare 

To make sure you are prepared for the interview and can make it as worthwhile as possible, you should prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the candidates. 

These questions could be a mix of general questions about the PA’s own skills and values, and more specific questions such as setting a scenario and asking the PA how they would deal with it. 

Examples of questions you could ask include: 

  • Do you have any hobbies? 
  • What are your core values? 
  • Why do you enjoy working as a Personal Assistant in Care? 
  • What do you think you could bring to this role? 
  • Do you have any experience with.....? 
  • Give an example of when you faced a difficult problem and describe how you dealt with it 

 

Complete the interviews 

It is always a good idea to ask a friend, family member or mediator to do the interviews with you. If you are a personal budget or direct payment recipient, you could ask your adviser to help you. It is useful to have another opinion, but you should make the final decisions and avoid being influenced by the person helping you with the interviews. 

Jot down notes during the interview to remind you of the answers the PA gives to your questions. This will help you remember each candidate later while you are making your decision about who to employ. 

You should not rush making the decision of who to offer the job to. If you are unsure, take some more time to think about it. You can always ask for more information or even to meet some of the candidates for another interview. If you are not happy with any of the people you have interviewed, you can re-advertise and interview different PAs. 

Tell the PA you want to employ 

When you have chosen who you want to employ, you should contact them and offer them the job. You should send them the offer in writing, you can download a sample Job Offer Letter here. 

The letter should tell them that you will need to carry out checks such as references checks and possibly a DBS check first. You should arrange enough time between offering the PA the job and their start date so that you have time to carry out these checks. 

 

Complete the relevant checks on the successful PA 

Reference checks 

You can request references by: 

  • Email or post – this is often the best way to get the most information. You can send a copy of the job description so that the referee understands what the job involves. 
  • Phone – this is often quicker than waiting for a reference in writing and some people feel more comfortable saying things over the phone. However, a short phone call does not always give the referee enough time to think about their answer or consider what the job involves. You should follow up a phone reference with a written reference. 
  • Via the candidate – if the candidate provides you with a reference before you have requested it, you should follow up with the referee by phone. 

DBS checks 

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, and a DBS check helps you to know whether people have a criminal conviction. 

  • A DBS check should only be completed for the successful job applicant 
  • It costs £23 for a standard DBS check or £40 for an enhanced check, as of January 2021 
  • Most applications usually take around 4 weeks to process 

For more information on DBS checks, you can visit the GOV.UK website

Right to Work checks 

You also need to check that the PA you have chosen has the right to work in the UK. You should check and keep a copy of certain documents before your Personal Assistant starts working for you. 

These documents can depend on the type of worker you are employing but usually include: 

  • British or European passport 
  • A birth certificate confirming that they were born in the UK or Republic of Ireland 
  • A letter from the Home Office confirming they have a legal right to work in the UK. 

For more information about right to work checks, visit the GOV.UK website

When your chosen PA has accepted the job, you should send a letter or email to the other people you interviewed explaining that they have not got the job. 

If you use the PA Web Matching Tool to find your PA, you can send a message to all unsuccessful PAs when you close your advert.

Before your PA starts working for you, you will need to complete an employment contract.

This is an agreement between you and your PA, so that you are both clear about each other's responsibilities. 

Skills for Care have more information about creating an employment contract and have a template contract that you can use.

There are several things you need to think about before your PA starts working for you, including:

  • HMRC
  • Pensions
  • Health & Safety
  • Training
  • Insurance

Skills for Care has lots of information to guide you through this part of the process.

Keep a record

It is recommended by ACAS that recruitment records should be kept for around six months in case of any discrimination challenge. These records should be kept confidential and in a secure place. 

Visit the ACAS website for more information about keeping records or call their confidential helpline on 0300 123 1100 (Text Relay 18001 0300 123 1100). 

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