Being Employed as a PA by a Family Member

Woman with her older mother sitting on the couch together at home smiling to the camera

It is possible for a Personal Assistant (PA) to be employed by a family member to provide care and support to them. However, this is still seen as an ‘exceptional circumstance’, which means it would not normally happen unless it is for specific reasons.

The law highlights the circumstances where it would be possible to employ a family member, provided the Local Authority (council) – usually the professional judgement of a Social Worker – also agrees to this. These circumstances are:

  • The family member, direct payment user and the Council all agree to the family member providing the support
  • The family member is capable of providing the support, and
  • There are specific reasons why a family member is best placed to provide the support.

The specific reasons relating to the employment of a family member

These specific reasons include:

  • There is a limited choice of service providers who could provide the support
  • The person needing care and support has specific communication needs which mean it will be difficult for another person to provide the support
  • The support is required at times at which the family member will be available to provide it and where other people would not reasonably be able to
  • The intimate nature of the support required makes it preferable for a family member to provide this
  • The person needing support has religious or cultural beliefs which it preferable for support to be provided by a family member
  • The person needing support requires palliative care
  • The person needing support has an emergency or short-term need for care
  • There are other factors in place which make it appropriate, in the opinion of the Council, for that family member to provide the support.

Who counts as a family member?

The law defines who counts as a family member when it comes to the rules around employing them as a Personal Assistant:

  1. the spouse or civil partner of the supported person
  2. a person who lives with the supported person as their spouse or civil partner
  3. the supported person’s parent, child, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, nephew or niece, cousin,
    grandparent, grandchild
  4. the spouse or civil partner of any person listed in (3)
  5. a person who lives with any person listed in (3) as if their spouse or civil partner.

Employing a family member and Guardianship/ Power of Attorney

There are some circumstances when the family member who may be employed as a Personal Assistant already holds a Guardianship or Power of Attorney for the supported person. This can create difficulties as it means the person who is legally responsible for making some decisions on the person’s behalf would essentially be employing themselves.

In all cases the wishes of the supported person, where these can be determined, should prompt Local Authorities to be creative in finding solutions that manage and mitigate risk.

It may also be possible to explore options around changing a Guardianship to enable a family member to become a Personal Assistant. For example, if the family member holds a Financial Guardianship to enable them to manage a Direct Payment, they may ask a different family member to take on this responsibility and relinquish the Financial Guardianship to enable them to become employed as a Personal Assistant. It is worthwhile speaking to an Independent SDS Support Organisation or Carer’s Centre if you are considering this option. Find your local organisation using the Find Help search tool.

Other considerations

If you are considering whether you would like to provide paid support as a PA to another family member, there are some other questions to think about, such as:

  • Are you willing and able to provide the support the person needs?
  • Would being employed by your family member change your relationship with them?
  • What if something went wrong, would you be able to raise any concerns you had with your family member?
  • If you were employed by your family member and then changed your mind about providing paid support, would you feel able to bring your employed role to an end?

Things you could do if you are considering becoming a PA for a family member

  • Have a discussion with your family member to see if this would be right for both of you
  • Speak to your local Independent SDS Information and Support organisation for guidance on this
  • In agreement with your family member, speak with any Social Worker currently involved to see if they would support the employment of family members and how to go about arranging this
  • In discussion with your family member, check to see if there is a contingency plan in place to manage unexpected changes to their support and when you might be employed as a family member.

Next steps

Take a look at the resource available below on Direct Payments to guide you in more detail.

Part of
Last Updated
19 February 2024
First Published
13 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.