Employing Family Members

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

It is possible to employ a family member to provide care and support but the law states that this is still seen as an ‘exceptional circumstance’, which means it wouldn’t normally happen unless there are specific reasons.

The legislation highlights the circumstances where it would be possible to employ a family member, provided the local authority (council) 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.

COVID19 and SDS Guidance (March 2022)

This Guidance further supports the option of employing a family member on a temporary basis where this is helpful, possible and in agreement by all parties. The Guidance states:

Family members may also be employed as a temporary PA. The individual in receipt of this support should ensure that there is a clear procedure for the original, or a new, PA to resume or start their role when possible. The family member employed to provide replacement care should understand this arrangement may be temporary ‘(5.1)(see Guidance below)

When you might think about employing a family member

  • 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

Questions to think about before employing a family member

  • Is the family member willing and able to provide the support the PA Employer needs?
  • Would employing the family member change the PA Employers relationship with them?
  • What if something went wrong, would the PA Employer be able to raise any issues with their family member?
  • If the family member was not able to provide the support to the PA Employer that they needed, will the PA Employer be able to end their employment if they want to do this?

Steps you can take

  • Check with your council and ensure they would agree to employment of family members
  • Speak to your local Independent Support organisation for guidance
  • Ensure a contingency plan, a plan to manage unexpected changes, and budget is in place

Next steps

Take a look at the resources available below to guide you in more detail.

Part of
Last Updated
23 September 2022
First Published
28 March 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.