Once you have interviewed and selected a suitable candidate for your job you will need to offer them the job formally. This factsheet guides you through all the things that you need to do before your new PA starts work with you.
Making a job offer
Once you have interviewed and chosen the successful candidate, you will need to offer them the job.
Making a verbal job offer
You should initially phone the successful candidate to offer them the job and we strongly advise that you offer the job subject to ‘satisfactory references and a DBS check’.
Making a written job offer
Once you have verbally offered the successful candidate the job you should follow this up with a written offer letter as soon as possible. If you wish you can use employer template 3.1(a) Job offer letter for these purposes.
The letter must include the following information:
- job title
- hourly rate
- length of probationary period
- holiday entitlement (5.6 weeks)
- that it is offered ‘subject to satisfactory references and a DBS check’
Even if your PA begins work with you immediately after you have offered them the job on the phone, you should still give them a job offer letter to keep for their records. This will put the employment on a positive formal footing and give the PA a good impression of you as an employer. It will also be useful if there are any disagreements later on.
At this stage, if the candidate does not meet the conditions ie ‘satisfactory references and DBS check’ you can withdraw the job offer. If this is the case, the candidate can’t take any action against you for breach of contract unless the job offer has been withdrawn for reasons of unlawful discrimination.
Once you have sent the offer letter, you should take up references from the two referees the candidate has given you details of.
It is good practice to contact unsuccessful candidates to let them know they did not get the job. Some candidates may ask for feedback on why they did not get the job. If you provide feedback it should focus on aspects they could reasonably improve for future success e.g. providing better examples when answering questions. It is vital that you do not refuse people the job for discriminatory reasons e.g. because they have child care responsibilities.
Please see factsheet 2.5: Avoiding discrimination in PA employment for more information on this.
It is sensible to maintain a favourable view of you and your job among candidates who may be suitable for casual work and/or other jobs that you may advertise in future. When you contact these candidates to let them know they have been unsuccessful, it is good practice to ask if they would mind you keeping their details on file in case you have any work for them in the future. This way you can contact the applicants directly should a new job open up.
It is vital that you take up at least two references on any prospective PA before you make your job offer unconditional. References will enable you to obtain information about a candidate’s employment history, qualifications and skills and experience as well as their general suitability for the post.
They will also enable you to confirm that everything the candidate has stated on their application form is true. If you have made a conditional job offer ‘subject to satisfactory references’ and you are not happy with the references you receive, you can withdraw the job offer without being in breach of contract.
Who can supply a reference?
Everyone who applies for your job must provide you with details of two people who will provide a reference (‘referees’).
One of these should be a workplace/ academic referee i.e. their previous manager/ supervisor/ teacher and the other can be a personal referee e.g. a friend or colleague on their application form. If they wish, they can provide you with two workplace references instead of a personal one.
You should not take out a reference from a member of the candidate’s family because they may not always provide an honest opinion of the candidate. The candidate must confirm that they have the referees’ permission before providing you with their details.
Taking up references
You can phone or write to referees. If you take out a reference by phone you may wish to have the referee confirm the contents of your conversation in writing. If you do, you should post, email or fax them your notes from the conversation and ask them to sign to confirm that these are correct.
Independent Lives has produced two employer templates to assist you with taking up references. If you wish to take a reference on the phone please use employer template 3.3(a) Telephone reference request.
Alternatively if you wish to take up a reference in writing please use employer template 3.3(b) Written reference request.
A DBS check is a process which enables you to check if your potential PA has a criminal record. The information is provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service, which is a government agency that can disclose police records for eligible jobs. If your PAs job role involves a ‘regulated activity’ the role should be offered subject to a DBS check. If you are unsure if your PA’s job role involves a regulated activity please contact Independent Lives for more information.
You can then use the information provided to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work e.g. work involving children or vulnerable adults. A DBS check is intended to complement other vetting processes you use, such as interviews and reference checking.
If you want to arrange a DBS check for a PA please contact Independent Lives to discuss the process.
Once all the checks are complete
When the DBS (please note that if a DBS certificate comes back showing any convictions, you must contact Independent Lives with this information) and reference checks come back you should review them to check you are happy with them. If you are, you should agree a start date with your PA (if you have not already done so). Once you agree that you are happy to go ahead, this means you have made the PA an unconditional offer of employment.
Once the candidate has accepted an unconditional offer of work, a contract of employment exists between you and your new PA. If you withdraw the job offer at this stage the employee could potentially sue you for breach of contract.
If the employee starts work without a written contract of employment (see section six below) it will show that they accepted the job on the terms offered by you verbally.
A written statement of employment particulars must be in place from the first day of employment.
Please also see factsheet 4.3: Employment contracts and written statements which provides full guidance on all aspects of this area of PA employment.
An employment contract is an agreement between you and your PA which reflects the rights, responsibilities and duties that you both have in the employment relationship. These are called the ‘terms’ of the contract and are legally enforceable.
An employment contract exists as soon as your PA accepts your offer of employment whether or not the contract is written down at this stage. Starting work proves that your PA accepts the terms (eg rate of pay and hours) offered by you either verbally or in the offer letter. Issuing a written employment contract as soon as your PA starts work is good practice because it ensures everyone is clear about their rights and responsibilities and it will be very helpful if there is a disagreement later on.
It is important to note that your PA is entitled by law to receive a written statement setting out the ‘main particulars’ of their employment on their first day of starting work with you. This is called a written statement of employment particulars.
A written statement must include the key details (‘particulars’) of the employment. These are:
- Employer and employee’s name and address
- Job title and brief job description (you should attach the job description)
- Start date of the employment
- Rate and method of pay
- Hours of work
- Holiday entitlement
- Where the employee will be working (inc. the address)
- Sick pay arrangements
- Notice periods that apply
- Information about disciplinary and grievance procedures
- Details of the type of employment contract that exists e.g. permanent, fixed term (inc. end date), casual or zero hours.
We have produced an example employment contract: employer template 4.3(a) Example employment contract (written statement of employment particulars) which you can use for these purposes.
A workers agreement can be used for Personal Assistants employed on a casual zero hour basis. We have also produced an example worker agreement: employer template 4.3(c) Worker agreement which you can use for these purposes.