PA Employment Status

When considering becoming an employer it is important to understand the meaning of employment status as this determines the basis of the relationship with the paid worker.

To help with this understanding, you’ll find some basic definitions of whether a Personal Assistant (PA) is an employee or a casual worker, below.


A PA who has entered into or works under a contract of employment is an employee. This means:

  • The employer is obliged to offer them work and they are obliged to accept it.
  • They must perform the work personally and cannot send a substitute.
  • They will be working under the employer’s control and direction.
  • They will be provided with any equipment they require in the delivery of their role.
  • They will be paid through PAYE and national insurance payments will be made on their behalf.
  • They will receive statutory benefits, such as statutory sick pay etc.
  • They will be entitled to holiday pay.
  • They will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

It may be that the intended relationship with the worker is better described under a casual work agreement.

Casual worker

The term casual worker applies to PAs who work with a supported person on a temporary basis. Temporary work being:

  • work which occurs only once, and for a short period of time or
  • which occurs more often but on an unpredictable or irregular way or
  • where there is no obligation on the supported person to offer the work nor for the casual worker to accept the offer of work.

In cases like this there is no contract of employment as the obligation to provide work and a corresponding obligation on the PA to accept the work does not exist.

However both employees and workers have the right to be provided with a written statement of their terms. Workers have the right to receive holiday pay, the NMW and to be auto enrolled into a pension scheme ( if eligible).

If, however the casual workers working pattern becomes, through time, set and regular then this arrangement would have to be reconsidered as they may be regarded as a permanent employee. Casual worker’s working arrangement periods should be short, irregular and with gaps in between in order that a continuity of employment is not established.

Having casual workers available can really help manage gaps in the employee(s) capacity like sick leave or holidays, however it is important to understand when casual work becomes employment and the employer’s obligations if that happens.It is advisable therefore, to have several casual workers available so there is a group of people to approach to cover holidays and unscheduled emergencies.

Having people available to cover some support hours in the absence of permanently employed PAs for example holidays and sickness, fulfils the employer’s obligation to the funding council to have arrangements in place for emergencies.

Next steps

Existing PA employers who are unsure about the status of their PA(s) should contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Part of
Last Updated
13 July 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.