When starting work as a Personal Assistant (PA) a proper induction process should be undertaken with your employer from your very first day. Some things can be introduced as and when appropriate but there are some basic things that all PAs should know right from the start.
Written statement of employment or contract of employment
All PAs should be given a written statement that sets out the terms and conditions of their employment. A lot of this should also have been discussed during the interview process. The statement which should be issued to you before or on your start date should outline the following:
- Name of your employer
- Your name, job title, start date and an overall description of your work duties
- Rate of pay, how often this will be paid to you and what to do if your pay is not correct
- Hours of work – this can be flexible, with your agreement
- Holiday entitlement in days or hours
- Location of where the work will take place – where some of your duties will be outside of the supported person’s home agreed flexibility should apply
- What to do if you are unwell or unable to get to work
- Notice period required of both parties
- Pension details
- Details of any training
- Details of any other paid leave (separate from holidays)
- Who to go to with a grievance
- How to appeal about a grievance outcome, or disciplinary or dismissal decision
The written statement does not need to include the following but it must tell you where this information can be found:
- Sick pay and procedures
- Grievance, disciplinary and dismissal procedures
NB. The employer and the PA should each keep a jointly signed copy of this statement/contract, confirming the agreement between both parties.
Regular work meetings with your employer
It is good practice for both parties to meet regularly to discuss how things are going and where either party can raise any work issues. Notes should be taken at these meetings that both parties should sign as being accurate.
Both parties should be confident that they are able to raise any issues that arise and that the other party will listen to them eg. to discuss poor time keeping or attendance, discuss carrying out a task differently, discuss potential changes to work practices.
Care plan or work notebook
If you are part of a team of PAs and support the same person but your shifts never overlap, particularly where your employer is also not present at your normal workplace, it is good practice to note down anything significant that occurred during your shift to inform the next PA taking over from you, and to keep the employer informed. For example, if the supported person refused their medication or has had a fall, note down anything that you think could be important to know such as the reason for not taking their medication or if they hurt themselves when they fell etc.
As well as outlining what you should do when you are unwell your employer should also make you aware of what documentation you must produce during an extended period of absence e.g. a sick note from your doctor.
Training applicable to your job
It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that you receive any mandatory training required in order that you can carry out your job safely. Please note that some of this training must be accredited, certified and delivered by a properly qualified trainer e.g. Moving and Assisting of people.
Employer’s emergency plan
It is good practice for your employer to have a plan in place in the event of an emergency, particularly if you are a lone worker. You should know where this plan is kept. You will need to know who to contact in an emergency, in addition to the obvious emergency services. You should know what to do if the supported person is unexpectedly admitted to hospital and how this could affect your employment. It would also be good to know where your employer keeps important items eg. their medication, important phone numbers etc.
Your employer is your manager
Many people accessing Self-directed Support might employ people that they already know. Be aware that no matter what kind of relationship you had before starting to work for your employer, they are the boss and have the right to set out their preferred work practices to enable them to meet their personal outcomes.
Health and safety
Your employer has a duty to ensure your health and safety whilst at work and cannot introduce work practices or ask you to do anything that would put your health and safety at risk.
You also have a duty to work safely at all times, reduce risks to others and you should point out any health and safety issues to your employer. Both parties should also be aware of their responsibilities during an emergency e.g. a fire at work. It is worthwhile to work with you employer on a personal evacuation plan that you both can become familiar with.
Your employer should also have an accident book where all accidents or near misses should be recorded.
Given the nature of your role, your work with supported people and the sector you are now working in, it is very important that you maintain strict confidentiality with regard to your employer and their home environment at all times.
General Data Protection Regulations must be followed at all times. These rules cover how information is stored, shared, where it is retained and how long it is retained for.
Information can only be shared if you have permission to share the information and which can only be overridden, if the person is at risk if the information is not shared. Failure to abide by this could leave you open to disciplinary action.
Your employer has the same responsibility to you and must keep all of your details strictly confidential. At the start of your employment you should be issued with Privacy Notice for Employees Information sheet informing of how your personal details will be stored, shared and retained.
If you are required to prompt the person that you support to take their medication and they are capable of taking it for themselves then it is perfectly ok for you to simply remind them at the prescribed time.
If the person that you support lacks the capacity to medicate themselves and it’s your responsibility to administer the medication, arrangements should have been made for you to be trained to do so by a properly qualified person.
All controlled drugs must be kept safely locked away whilst you are on duty.
This list is not exhaustive and the duties and responsibilities from one PA to another can vary widely according to the job that you do. Check with your employer for their induction process to your roles and responsibilities.