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Our frequently asked questions: Hiring a paid carer

Posted on 09/07/2014

If you are looking at hiring a paid carer for yourself or a loved one, then you are likely to have plenty of questions about the best way to move forward, what you need to do and what documents you need to become an employer.

Hiring a paid carer is a great way of getting exactly the services that you require at a cost you can afford, as you are not paying any agency overheads, for example. There are certain requirements and responsibilities that you have to face as an employer, but once you have everything in place, it is not complex.

Here are the most common questions that we are asked and the answers, but do get in touch if there is anything that is not covered on here.

I’d like to hire a paid carer, but I have no idea how to get started.

If you need to arrange home care for yourself or an elderly/disabled family member and you want to look at hiring someone, there are a few stages that you have to work through from advertising your position, to recruitment and managing them as a member of staff. You also have certain responsibilities as an employer that you have to ensure are met. We have a detailed guide to hiring a paid carer, which goes through all of these stages step by step.

Isn’t it easier just to use an agency to get a paid carer?

In terms of responsibility and administrative tasks, then yes, using an agency is easier. You sign up with the agency, tell them your requirements and they send a carer out to you. You do need to bear in mind a few points, such as the fact that you will probably pay a higher hourly rate, as the agency needs its cut as well as paying the carer. You will also find that the carer works on a time slot basis, so they might have a short visit allocated. Also, it may not always be the same carer every time. Using an agency is, however, the right decision for many people, just make sure that you know all your care and support options before deciding.  

A neighbour looks after me for a couple of hours most days and I would like to pay her for it. Do I need to employ her, or can she be self-employed?

Whether or not your paid carer is employed or self-employed is not a matter of choice. HMRC has a range of criteria that determine employment status and you need to ensure that you make the right declaration. At a very basic level, if your neighbour is going to be looking after you and no one else, and you set the hours, the tasks and the level of pay, then she will be employed by you and you need to ensure that you meet your employer responsibilities. If you are just one client of a number of people that she works with, then she may be self-employed instead. Have a look at our guide called ‘Are you employed or self-employed?’ to find out more.

I’m worried about the financial side of things. How do I know how much to deduct for tax and National Insurance when paying my carer, and how do I get the right money to the right places?

HMRC has some good advice for new employers. You need to register with them as a new employer, supply your employee’s details and provide a payslip, with details of deductions that you need to make for tax and National Insurance. There are various bits of payroll software that you can get for your computer to help you with the calculations. If this sounds like something you don’t want to take on, then another option is to use a payroll agency or service. The company will do deal with HMRC for you, make the deductions and issue payslips, and tell you how much money to pay to where. You’re the Boss now offers a payroll service solely for people who are hiring paid carers or support workers.

Do I need to do a DBS check on a paid carer?

We would always recommend that you carry out a DBS (formerly CRB) check on anyone that you are thinking of hiring. This gives you peace of mind when it comes to selecting the right person for the job. A DBS check lists any criminal convictions, which will help you make a decision as to whether you want to continue with the employment. If you are contracting with a self-employed paid carer, then you can ask them to supply a copy of a recent DBS check for you to look at, as part of the recruitment process.

What qualifications should I look for?

There are no legal requirements for paid carers to have any qualifications, though there are plenty of certifications available. It is up to you when you are recruiting a paid carer to determine what is important to you in terms of qualifications. You may prefer that your employee has had basic training, such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care. If you have a specific condition, like dementia, then training in this area would be useful. However, experience counts for a lot in social care and home care, so ask for examples of tasks carried out, experience with certain conditions and needs, and get references from previous clients if you can. This will all help you make a good recruitment decision.

How do I go about recruiting a paid carer?

You first need to advertise the position that you have available, making sure that the advert has all of the details that are important to you – if you have a minimum level of experience or qualifications, for example, and a brief overview of expected tasks. You need to decide how people apply and then hold interviews from your shortlisted applicants. The interview is an important step, as you can tell more about a person face to face than you can on paper, so make sure you are prepared with questions you want to ask. Finally, you choose your employee and make a formal job offer. We have more information about recruiting a paid carer on the website. 

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