You must have an agreement, ‘contract of employment’, between you and your employees so that you are both clear about each other’s responsibilities. It gives details of employment rights, responsibilities and duties - these are called the ‘terms’ of the contract.
You should send two signed copies of the contract of employment to your new personal assistant and ask them to sign both - one for you and one for your PA. This must be completed within two months of taking on a new employee.
This section outlines what you should include in the contract of employment.
Download the 'Contract of employment' template.
This is an amount of time when you can find out what your new personal assistant is like, and allows them to think about whether they are suited to the job.
Set a probationary period that is suitable for you, for example, three months.
It is a good idea to set aside some time to speak with your personal assistant during the probationary period so that you can both talk about what is working well or not going so well. You could also use this to talk about any training that your personal assistant needs.
At the end of the probationary period, you should either confirm that you would like your employee to continue their role, that you would like to extend the probationary period or that you want to end their employment.
Notice period for both of you
If your personal assistant wants to stop working for you, the ‘notice period’ is the amount of time that they must work after they have told you that they want to leave.
If you decide that you do not want your personal assistant to work for you anymore, this is also the amount of time that your personal assistant will need to work once you have told them that they must leave your employment.
You should make sure that the notice period gives you enough time to employ another personal assistant.
If your personal assistant has worked for you for over one month but less than two years, the minimum legal notice period must be at least one week (you can agree on a longer period of time if you want).
If they have worked for you for two years or more, the legal minimum notice period is two weeks - plus an extra week for every additional year that they have worked for you (up to 12 weeks).
The notice period can be different during the probationary period, and in cases of dismissal for gross misconduct or gross negligence, notice is not paid.
Salary and when it will be paid
This is where you say how much your personal assistant will be paid, when you will pay them (for example, weekly or monthly) and how you will pay them (for example, BACS or cheque).
As an employer you have a legal responsibility to deduct National Insurance and income tax. There is more information about paying your personal assistant later in this toolkit.
Working time, hours and breaks
This will be the hours that you want your personal assistant to work. It is also an opportunity to say what the process is if your personal assistant is going to be late or is unable to turn up for work.
You must not ask your personal assistant to work an average of more than 48 hours per week, unless they have given their voluntary consent to ‘opt-out’ in writing. An employee can cancel the opt-out agreement at any time by giving seven days notice.
Your personal assistant is allowed to have regular rest periods of:
a minimum of 11 consecutive hours rest in any 24-hour period
a minimum 20 minute rest break if their working day is longer than six hours
one day off out of every seven days
a limit on the normal working hours of night workers to an average eight hours in any 24-hour period, and an entitlement for night workers to receive regular health assessments.
For young people (under 18) the maximum working week is 40 hours, other than in exceptional circumstances. These hours may not be averaged out and there is no opt-out available. If you employ someone in this age group, you must also give them a break of 30 minutes every four and a half hours worked.
You must also allow ‘reasonable’ paid time off to your personal assistants for things such as attending antenatal appointments or training.
In some situations, you must allow your personal assistant unpaid time off, for example, for family emergencies and time to perform public duties, such as jury service or acting as a school governor.
If your personal assistant asks to work flexibly, you have a legal responsibility to consider this request if they have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks. You can refuse these requests on reasonable grounds. If you agree to any changes, you should update the contract of employment. Only one request can be made every 12 months.
You should say how much holiday your personal assistant is entitled to per year and when the holiday year starts and finishes, for example, 1 January – 31 December.
It is good to be clear about things like how bank holidays will be treated and the process for agreeing time off.
Download the ‘Holiday request form’ template.
Most full-time workers are legally entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year – you can choose to offer more. The statutory paid holiday entitlement is capped at 28 days. If your personal assistant works part-time in a flexible pattern, or works irregular hours, it might be easier to calculate their holiday allowance in hours rather than days. Use this online calculator to help you to work this out.
Holiday pay must be based on the worker’s average pay. So, if their normal pay includes extra money for working unsociable hours, so must the holiday pay.
If someone stops working for you, they are entitled to be paid for any holiday that they are due but have not taken.
Visit the Government website for more information about holiday entitlement rights.
Bank and public holidays
You can count any days off for public or bank holidays towards your personal assistant's statutory holiday entitlement – but only as long as if you pay them for those days off. You do not have to give your personal assistant paid time off for bank and public holidays, but you need to be clear about this in their contract of employment.
Sick leave and sick pay arrangements
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are unable to work because of illness.
If your personal assistant is unable to work for four or more days in a row, you must pay SSP. SSP starts on the fourth day that your personal assistant is off.
For up to seven days of sickness your personal assistant can self-certificate. After seven days your personal assistant will need to produce a statement of fitness (or fit note) from their doctor.
You do not have to pay SSP if your personal assistant earns less than £118.00 (before tax) per week - this is the ‘Low Earnings Limit’.
Keep all records of sickness periods lasting for four days in a row or longer and all SSP payments that you make. You can use a form provided by HMRC to keep these records.
Download the ‘Sickness absence recording form’ template.
Want more information?
Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a pension scheme and contribute towards it. This is called ‘automatic enrolment.’
Scroll down to find out more about pensions.
Reference to disciplinary and grievance procedures
This section should explain how problems will be dealt with and you should also write a disciplinary or grievance procedure which goes into more detail.
Learn more about disciplinary and grievance procedures, in the ‘Sorting out problems’ section.
What happens when you are away?
This section should say what happens when you are away, for example, on holiday without your personal assistant or if you have to go into hospital.
Want more information?
For more information, read our Personal assistants continuing to support people during a hospital admission guide.
Visit the Government website for more information about short-term working or lay-off.
You will hold confidential information about your personal assistant, and they will know things about you that you would not want passed on. This section should outline how you will both keep this information confidential.
You should ask each other before you share any information with anyone else. This should be with informed consent, which means that you understand the consequences and have had no pressure put on you.
You should make it clear to your personal assistant exactly who they may share information with and in what situation. For example, it is only shared with people who really need to know it, such as, other people or organisations that provide you with support; and only if you are not able to give that information yourself. No information should be shared with anyone, even your family or friends, against your wishes.
If a personal assistant breaks a confidence, this should be treated as a disciplinary matter. Sometimes they may have to share information about you without your agreement, such as in medical emergencies, if they thought you were being abused by someone else, or if you have broken the law or if they believe that you intend to break the law.
There is also information that you need to hold about your personal assistant. This should be kept securely so that other people cannot access it.
This section should say how your personal assistant will be dismissed under certain circumstances, such as gross misconduct or gross negligence.
Learn more about dealing with disputes and problems at work, in the ‘Sorting out problems’ section.