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How to employ a paid carer

Posted on 23/04/2014

When it comes to thinking about care services, there are a lot of different options, from residential homes to homecare help. One option is to employ a paid carer. A paid carer can be employed directly by an individual to aid them with anything that they might need help with, from shopping and cleaning, to personal care.

When it comes to getting a paid carer, you have three different options: employing them directly, contracting them (if they are self-employed, for example) or contracting through an agency or provider. You can find out more about each of these options here. In this article, we are looking at top tips to help you directly employ a paid carer, but many of the tips will still apply, even if you are contracting a paid carer instead.

There are a number of key benefits to employing your own paid carer: you get to decide what hours they work, and exactly what work they will do. It also means that you know who will be coming to work for you, and you won't be sent a substitute, as you might with an agency. However, you also become an employer, which comes with certain responsibilities. We'll take a look at how to get started in these tips.

1. Advertise your position

The first thing that you need to do is create a job description for your paid carer. This should include things like exactly what you want them to do, what the hours would be, what kind of person you are looking for and what training or skills they should have. Don't include any personal information in your advert, such as your home address, and consider using online job sites, as these are more anonymous.

2. Work out what you can pay

You must offer to pay at least the National Minimum Wage for your hourly rate, but do look at what you can afford to pay. When it comes to purchasing care, you often get what you pay for, so if you are looking for someone who has considerable experience and training, you may need to offer more than the minimum wage to attract the right applicants.

3. Hold interviews

Once you have had some responses to your advertisement, you will need to organise interviews with a few of the applicants to help you find out more about them. It's advisable to hold these interviews outside of your home and to take someone with you to the interview. There is more advice on how to conduct an interview here. Once you have made your decision, you will need to send a letter to the unsuccessful candidates, as well as an offer of employment to the successful person.

4. Ask for references

After offering the job, you should get references for your potential new employee. It is usual to get two references from previous employers, or you could get a character reference from a personal contact if they can only provide one previous employer. Ask these referees key questions about your candidate to ensure that they match up to your expectations. You can ask for references in writing, though by phone may be quicker and easier to verify.

5. Perform a DBS check

Previously called a CRB check, a DBS check lets you know if the person that you are hiring has had any criminal convictions. You can find out more about DBS checks on the official Government website here. You're the Boss can carry out DBS checks using an online system, which means that results come back in days rather than weeks. If you are interested in finding out more about this service, then take a look here

6. Get insured

You will need to have Employer's Liability Insurance before your paid carer starts to work for you. There are companies that specialise in insurance for the care sector, and you can find out more about that in this dedicated article on insurance.

7. Create an employment contract

Before your new employee starts, you will need to supply them with an employment contract. This sets out all of their statutory rights, their place of work and hours, their pay rate, their key duties, notice periods and more. You need to make sure that this is as detailed as possible so that you and your employee know exactly what to expect of each other. We have got a information on what you should put in a contract of employment as a starting point or a template contract of employment for you to fill in that you can buy.

8. Your responsibilities

There are certain rights and responsibilities that you need to be aware of as an employer. You must provide your employee with a contract within two months of them starting work for you; you must pay at least minimum wage and deduct National Insurance and tax as relevant; and you must provide holiday pay and sick pay. There is a more definitive list of employer responsibilities here.

9. Planning for absences

If your employee is off sick or on holiday, then it is up to you to find alternative cover for them. By asking for a minimum period of notice for holidays, then you can arrange for someone to take over, whether this is a family member or a short-term carer from an agency or other provider. Sickness is much harder to predict, so you should think about a back-up plan for days when your paid carer is unable to make it into work. Ask a family member to be on standby or see if there are any local agencies that would be able and willing to provide a paid carer from their team for a short period.

10. Arrange payment and deductions

You can opt to pay someone yourself and to do this you need to register as an employer with HMRC. There is an online form, but there are some new rules in regards to hiring a carer and other domestic help, which means that you may need to phone a helpline to register, rather than doing it online. The HMRC website has dedicated information for people who are employing a paid carer. If you prefer, you can use a payroll service, which does all of the calculations and deductions for you, issues the payslips and liaises with HMRC on your behalf. You're the Boss now offers its own payroll service

11. Perform a risk assessment

It is your responsibility to ensure that your employee's work environment is safe, so take a look around your home for potential hazards. If your employee is required to wear or use any personal protective equipment , then there are some regulations that apply.

12. Keep detailed records

You must keep a record of certain details. These include tax and National Insurance information, hours worked each week, holidays taken, pay, sickness and any accidents that occur in the line of work.

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