Personal Assistant Employers

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My disabled father who lives with me has been assessed and will be getting Self Directed Funding [option1]. I haven’t had the paper work yet but want to start trying to find PAs as I have been doing it alone and need help. Some questions please. Does the PA have to have some kind of insurance or should I take something out? Most people whom seem interested in helping are working part time for an organisation and want to top up their income. Do I have to become an employer and if so is it possible for me to do all the payroll stuff or do I need a management organisation. I am in East Lothian. Any help please. Jackie

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Hi Jackie,
Welcome to the SDS Forum and thank you for your questions.
I think my short answers to your questions would be:

1) Does the PA have to have some kind of insurance or should I take something out?
First of all you might want to decide if you are going to employ Personal Assistants (PAs) yourself, or you’re going to contract with self-employed PAs, or both. If you start advertising for people it is likely that most people are looking to be an employee rather than be self-employed, but this might be something to think about before you start.
If you employ people yourself, you would be taking out the insurance, which is called Employer Liability Insurance. If you contract with a self-employed PA, that person would need to take out their insurance.

2) Do I have to become an employer and if so is it possible for me to do all the payroll stuff or do I need a management organisation?
You certainly have a choice about whether you want to become an employer or not. However, it depends on how you would like things to be arranged. You could choose to approach a Care Agency to provide support workers or the Council might be identify a suitable agency. Sometimes care agencies will work with you to recruit the support workers you need. However, if you prefer to find individuals you would like to support you, then the choice is whether you want to employ them yourself or contract with them as a self-employed person.

If you become an employer, you also have the choice about whether you would like to do the payroll administration, or you’s like a specialist payroll company to do this for you. The cost of this is often included in people’s SDS budget. In the East Lothian area, you have a couple of organisations offering payroll support, including:

The Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCIL)
Tel: 0131 475 2350
I’ve copied Iain McGregor in from LCIL as well.

Family Payroll Ltd
Tel: 0330 133 4017
They are based in East Lothian as well.

You can also find more information on the PA Employer and PA Handbooks which you can find here:

You can do a key word search for any specific information you’re looking for and a ‘Find Help’ search for any other organisations that might be available to support you in your area.

I hope that’s ok but if you need anything else just let me know.

Many thanks,



Does pa need to go threw pvg with sw before hiring someone each time u want someone tske kid ie if i had an emergency and just paid someone who wasnt my full time pa if they werent available would the emergency sister need pvg

Hi Michelle,
Many thanks for your query. I have checked some information on this in the SDS Statutory Guidance. You can find a copy of the Guidance here:

The Guidance outlines the circumstances where someone will not have to, or be unable to join the PVG scheme. The Guidance states:

'The exceptions to the supported person, or someone acting on their behalf, being able to use the PVG
Scheme are where the person providing care is:

  • family member who lives with the supported person, or who lives with the supported person as if they were a member of the same family

  • someone with a personal relationship with the supported person and where there is no
    commercial consideration involved

In those exceptional cases, an application for PVG cannot be made. This is in accordance with the
decision of the Scottish Parliament in enacting both the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act
200795, and Disclosure (Scotland) Act 202096, where Parliament agreed on both occasions that such
relationships should not be subject to PVG Scheme membership.’ (p.47) (my emphasis)

So in terms of your sister, it sounds like they wouldn’t be able to apply to join the PVG scheme if they were looking to support you as your PA. However, anyone that doesn’t fit into the above criteria, could join the PVG scheme.

The other question for you to consider as the PA employer, is whether you want any potential PA to join the scheme. As the employer, at the moment you have the discretion to ask any potential PA to provide evidence of their scheme membership. The above Guidance does state for example:

'With respect to the (PVG) Scheme, the (Local) authority should, either directly or through a support organisation:

  • Ensure the supported person, where they are directly employing a personal assistant (PA ) under* Option 1, is made aware of the PVG scheme so that they can decide whether or not to request a PVG disclosure from a prospective personal assistant** (PA )’ (p.46)

So this very clearly states that as the PA employer you have a choice about whether you would request any PVG disclosure information from a prospective PA. Of course, it might be seen as good practise to always ask for a PVG disclosure, especially for people you don’t know, to safeguard yourself and anyone receiving support.

It’s also worth saying that the rules around PVG membership are due to change with the full implementation of the Disclosure Scotland Act. This will require all PAs to join the PVG scheme in the future, but a time for this hasn’t yet being decided.

I hope that helps but do come back to me if you need anything else.

Many thanks,

Good Morning,

I’d like to ask as an SDS Employer (Option 1) employing a small team of staff. Can I ask the local authority to allow & pay one staff member (with more than 15years experience of supporting my son) to move into the role of Manager rather than Team Leader of the service? Whilst I would remain the SDS Employer, this could allow us parents/guardians to step back as we move closer to retirement but provide ongoing 1:1 staff training & consistency of support to my son and his staff team?

Hi Gail,
Many thanks for your post and welcome to the SDS Forum.

If sounds like you have a lot of experience of being a PA employer and I hope things are working well for you and your son.

I think the key for me is about clarifying what you would be asking a Manager to do that would be different from someone in a Team Leader role? If you can show that it is ‘necessary’ for someone to be in a Managers role and how this will enable your son’s assessed needs to be met, then this might help you to put forward your case for using the SDS budget in this way.

Having a direct payment is about giving you as much choice, control and flexibility that you need to be able to meet your son’s needs in the most appropriate way. Things can change over time, either in terms of your son’s level of need, or the needs of any unpaid carer.

I don’t know if the change you would like to make, would mean that you need to increase how much you spend on the support being provided? If this means an increase to the SDS budget required, then setting out the need for this would help the Local Authority understand why this might need to increase in some way. Sometimes people can make use of a Contingency Budget they hold to cover some additional one-off costs or small increases - so this might be way of doing this, provided it didn’t undermine the Contingency Budget too much. If the proposed change didn’t come at any additional cost, then hopefully this would make it much easier to agree.

I don’t know if you are an unpaid carer yourself, but if you were, you would be entitled to something called an Adult Carer Support Plan, which is based on a good conversation about your needs as a carer. If you met local eligibility criteria as an unpaid carer, the Local Authority could potentially offer you an SDS budget, which could help to pay for things that supported your caring role, or for this budget to be directed towards paying for your son’s support. Your local Carers Centre might be able to offer you the Adult Carers Support Plan.

So I think you could certainly have a further conversation with the Local Authority. It might be a case of outlining why you want to do this, how this supports your son, how it meets his assessed needs, as well as how it meets your needs as his unpaid carer.

I hope that helps but do come back to me if there’s anything else I can do.

Many thanks,


The SDS budget that you manage for your son can be used flexibly by you to create the best team to support your son, so you can have different people doing different jobs, as long as your son’s overall support needs are being met. As I understand it, it is quite common when there are teams of carers/PAs/support workers for one of them to take a more senior role and possibly have responsibility for managing the rota etc.

However, as far as I am aware, there is no contingency for LAs to pay more for one person to perform this role within a team, so that person either does it out of the goodness of their heart, or the individual/family pays extra for this from their own money, which is always an option.

If you are looking for more formal support from the LA, then of course you can ask them, but you might be best speaking to your local SDS advice service first: Find Local Information and Support - Self Directed Support Scotland | Self Directed Support Scotland (

Hopefully a PA employer will be able to share some first-hand experience on this issue. Good luck!