You must be aware of individual rights that your personal assistant may be entitled to.
Employment law gives your personal assistant a number of other rights and protections in addition to those to do with their pay, hours and holidays.
Some apply to your personal assistant as soon as they start work; others depend on factors such as length of service and continuity of employment. For certain rights, various groups of people are excluded.
We give you some basic guidance about some of the most common individual employment rights and protections in this section and also tell you where to find further help so that you can try and fully understand what your obligations are.
Click on each of the + signs below to find out more about each area.
You should be aware that employment law is always changing, and it is important as an employer to keep up to date. ACAS provide a general round up of forthcoming employment law changes here to help people understand imminent changes and their potential impact. It is probably a good idea to check for any updates regularly.
The main circumstances where your personal assistant has the right to time off are for:
- Annual leave – see more in our pay and conditions section
- If they are ill – see more in our statutory sick pay section
- Parental leave – see below
Your personal assistant may be entitled to other time off, e.g. for jury service; time off for public duties if they hold a public position such as a member of a local authority or Justice of the Peace; time off for study or training; time off to deal with unexpected or sudden emergencies involving a dependent.
You can find out more about each of these on the GOV.UK website.
Most female personal assistants have the right to take up to one year’s (52 weeks) maternity leave. You can find some basic information about statutory maternity leave on the GOV.UK website.
For more detailed information, go to the ACAS website.
Employers must also give pregnant employees time off for antenatal care and pay their normal rate for this time off. The father or pregnant woman’s partner has the right to unpaid time off work to go to two antenatal appointments.
Shared Parental Leave
Under this system, eligible parents are able to choose how they share the care of their child during the first year after birth. Mothers still have to take at least the first two weeks following the birth off, after that they can choose to end their maternity leave and enter the Shared Parental Leave regime. This can be very flexible.
Example: Janet and Jonathan are both teachers who have worked for their employers for a long time. They decide that initially Janet will take maternity leave of 12 weeks, starting a month before the due date, and Jonathan will take his paternity leave of 2 weeks when the baby is born. After her 12 weeks maternity leave, Janet will return to work for 8 weeks so that she can get to know her new class. Jonathan will take 8 weeks of Shared Parental Leave. That still leaves them with 32 weeks. They decide they would like to have some time off together, a further 8 weeks – this takes 16 weeks of their total parental leave (8 weeks’ each, taken at the same time). That leaves 16 weeks, which Janet takes before returning to work.
For more information on Shared Parental Leave go to GOV.UK.
To qualify for paternity leave (one or two consecutive weeks on top of usual holiday entitlement) personal assistants must:
- have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing
- be the biological father of the child and/or the mother’s husband or partner
- have worked continuously for you for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due.
For more information go to GOV.UK.
If your personal assistant is adopting a child, they may be entitled to adoption leave. Adoptive parents are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave.
If your personal assistant’s partner is adopting a child, they may be eligible for Paternity Leave and/or Shared Parental Leave.
For more information go to GOV.UK.
If your personal assistant is having a child through a surrogacy arrangement they are also eligible for adoption leave or paternity leave/shared parental leave. They will also be entitled to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the woman carrying the child.
To find out about having to pay your employee during periods of statutory leave, see our section on Parental Pay in our paying wages section.
Itemised pay statement
This is the case, even if you are not required to make any tax or National Insurance deductions from their pay.
Unlawful deductions from wages
You can generally only make a deduction from your personal assistant’s wages if:
- it is required or authorised by legislation (for example, income tax or National Insurance deductions); or
- it is in the employment contract or it has been agreed to by the personal assistant in writing before the deduction is made.
What this means is that if, say, your personal assistant breaks your favourite vase, you will not automatically be entitled to deduct the cost of replacing it from their pay. You will only be entitled to deduct the money if it expressly states that you can do this in the contract of employment or if the personal assistant consents to the deduction in writing before it is made.
For more on this see GOV.UK.
The Government are gradually requiring employers to automatically enrol all eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme which you can find out more about on GOV.UK.
Auto-enrolment is being phased in over several years, starting with the larger employers from October 2012 and eventually taking in people who employ just one person. Your start date could therefore be as far off as 2018. However it is best to be prepared.
For more information on auto enrolment see our dedicated section in paying wages.
Trade Union Membership
Your personal assistant has the right to join or not join a trade union of their choice.
For more on this, see GOV.UK.
Health and safety issues
You have a legal responsibility to make sure that your personal assistant remains safe and healthy while doing their job.
For information on what you must do, e.g. carry out a risk assessments on your home, including pets or any animals you keep, see the Health & Safety Executive's website.
You will find templates for a safety in the home checklist and risk assessment in the templates booklet in the Skills for Care toolkit.
Your direct payment adviser should also have some information on health and safety.
Part time personal assistants
It is unlawful to treat part-time personal assistants less favorably than comparable full-timers, unless the less favorable treatment can be justified on objective grounds. See GOV.UK for more information.
This means part-time personal assistants should receive the same rates of pay and should not be treated less favourably in the criteria for selecting workers for promotion or redundancy for example.
The Equality Act came into force in 2010 and it prohibits direct or indirect discrimination because of a “protected characteristic” and covers age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnerships.
There are different kinds of discrimination. See the GOV.UK website for more information.
Discrimination can include, for example:
- not hiring someone
- selecting a particular person for redundancy
- paying someone less than another worker without good reason
Discrimination does not have to be deliberate and intentional. You can discriminate indirectly with working conditions or rules that disadvantage one group of people more than another. You can find more on discrimination as an employer on GOV.UK.
ACAS also has lots of detailed information on discrimination in relation to the different protected characteristics:
Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended and is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment – they are liable for any harassment suffered by their employees. See the GOV.UK website for more information.
Other rights and protections
You can find details of other rights and protections on the GOV.UK website.