My personal assistant has symptoms
Self-isolating (staying at home) is no longer a legal requirement, but if your PA has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a high temperature (if they had one) or they no longer feel unwell.
If your PA has been ill for at least 4 days in a row and earns above the lower earnings limit (on average £123 per week over the past 8 weeks), then they could be entitled to statutory sick pay.
My personal assistant isn’t ill but they don’t want to work
If the personal assistant self-isolates through choice, where there are no grounds for why they have not turned up for work, they should not be paid, other than for any annual leave available to them.
You might want to seek advice from your insurance company to see if there is a disciplinary aspect to this.
My personal assistant becomes ill at work
If your personal assistant becomes ill at work with symptoms of COVID-19, you should send them home from the onset of symptoms. They can return to work when they feel well enough to do so, the same as with any other illness.
If they test positive, they should try and stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days. This five day period starts from the day after they took their test.
If you would be unsafe without assistance and are unable to get anyone else to provide it, you and the personal assistant may decide that care should be continued in the short term ensuring use of PPE and social distancing. You should document this and the reasons you made this decision.
My personal assistant won’t self-isolate and I think they should
If your personal assistant is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or has told you that members of their household have symptoms but proposes to continue working, contact Independent Lives for support in enforcing government guidance.
You may want to talk to your insurance provider to see if there is a disciplinary aspect to this.
My personal assistant cannot work due to childcare
If your personal assistant’s children are unable to go to school or usual child care, they can apply for a reasonable amount of unpaid dependent’s leave to care for children.
They may also be able to take unpaid parental leave (up to four weeks per year per child) or you could ask to take annual leave. Please see: www.gov.uk/parental-leave
ACAS has completed a guide for employees, which covers all aspects of COVID advice. Alternatively, you can contact your insurance company for independent advice. Please see: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
There has been a website page set up called ‘Coronaheroes’ for people and families to help share useful links, practical tips and ideas that people who manage their direct payments have put in place for themselves and their personal assistants.
There are webinars on employment, contingency planning, accessing care - all of the webinar recordings can be found at www.be-human.org.uk/coronaheroes
Can I use my direct payment differently?
You can change the support and/or services you receive but you must be careful to fulfil your responsibilities as an employer and the terms of any contract with an organisation you are purchasing care from.
The government expects local authorities and clinical commissioning groups to continue to give you as much flexibility as possible in how you use your direct payment. What matters most is that you are able to use your direct payment in a way that allows you to stay safe and well, and continue to get the care and support you need.
Where possible, you should keep using your direct payment as agreed in your care and support plan. There may be situations where you need to organise your care and support in different ways as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Ideally, you will have agreed this with your usual contact person at your local authority or clinical commissioning group, but it is understood that this will not be possible every time.
Further details are available in the DP guidance available here.
Can I employ a temporary personal assistant?
This may be a way of ensuring you get the care you need. The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the adults’ and children’s barred lists free-of-charge to PAs being recruited in connection with the care and treatment of COVID-19.
These arrangements will provide employers with the option to appoint new PAs to support adults and/or children, as long as the new personal assistant is not barred and appropriate measures are put in place to manage the individual until the full DBS check is received.
If you wish to employ a close family member as a temporary personal assistant, or if the planned temporary arrangements would cost more than your current direct payment, you must contact your funder.