Managing your Working Relationship
As a Personal Assistant (PA) you’ll have a unique relationship with your employer.
In some cases, your employer will be the person you’re providing support for. In other cases your employer might be a parent, guardian or family carer, who is employing you on behalf of the person who needs support.
In either case, you are supporting someone to do the things they’re not able to do and although this can feel like a personal relationship, it’s not. Remember you’re the employee and you need to remain independent and professional.
It’s important to understand the impact that certain circumstances may have on your employer or the person you support, for example, if you don’t or can’t turn up to work.
There are times when being a personal assistant could be personally difficult or emotional, particularly if it involves working with a person at the end of their life. It may feel like you’re supporting the person’s family as well. As such, there may, from time to time, be challenges with the relationship between you and your employer.
You should discuss how issues can be addressed early on in your relationship with your employer.
Any problems should be addressed properly and as laid out within the terms of your employment documents (which should include your contract of employment, statement of particulars and job description, which may be presented as one or more documents). This information must include what do if you want to raise a grievance.
Be clear from the start
At the start of your employment, you, your employer and the person you support should establish boundaries about how you’ll relate to each other, and discuss how you’ll deal with any problems, for example, if boundaries have become blurred or if any of you are unhappy with something.
This might include how your employer and the person you support wishes you to support them and ‘house rules’ (eg. there may be areas of the home that they wish to keep private from you).
Talk to your employer
Just as your employer will expect you to fulfil your employment duties, you have a right to expect your employer to treat you fairly. This includes not asking you to do anything which puts you in danger, is breaking the law, or which breaches your terms and conditions of employment.
If you feel that your employer is asking you to do something that’s risky or goes against what you’ve been trained or agreed to do, you should speak with them.
In all cases, it’s recommended that you raise any concerns directly with your employer in the first instance so that any issues or concerns can be sorted out informally. Your employer should provide you with a mechanism to raise a formal grievance, if necessary.
However, if you’re unable to resolve the issue directly and need employment advice you can contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). You can also speak to the Personal Assistant Network Scotland for advice. Their details can be found in the link below.