Terminating the employment

Dismissal, redundancy, retirement and resignation

Sometimes the employment relationship you have with your personal assistant will come to an end. This page of the site looks at the most common reasons why this might happen and the associated considerations of notice periods and references. 

Notice Periods
Dismissal
Redundancy
Retirement
Resignations
References

Notice periods

Both the employee and employer are normally entitled to a minimum period of notice on termination of employment.

The notice period is the amount of time between the decision to terminate an employment contract and the date that the contract actually ends. This is regardless of who actually makes the decision to terminate, whether it is the employee because they want to leave or whether it is because you want the employee to leave.

You can find more on notice and pay during the notice period on the ACAS website.

You may not be obliged to give your personal assistant the statutory minimum notice period if you summarily dismiss them (in cases of gross misconduct).

Gross misconduct is a very serious form of misconduct. Although the law does not define what sorts of actions or behaviours could be described as being gross misconduct, the following acts may be considered as gross misconduct depending on the facts and circumstances:

  • Theft or fraud
  • Damage to your property or deliberately or knowingly endangering your safety
  • Coming to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Verbal abuse to you or any other third party (such as your relatives or friends) or threatening behaviour, whether to you or any third party
  • Serious insubordination, including any conduct which undermines your independence or self-determination
  • Serious breach of confidentiality.

It is a good idea to give your personal assistant a list of actions which you consider to be gross misconduct at the start of their employment, while making it clear the list is not exhaustive (there could be other acts of gross misconduct but they are not listed here). It is advisable to do this because a personal assistant could do something that is obviously a serious breach of contract but is not on the list.

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Dismissal

Occasionally, you will need to ask your personal assistant to leave. That is, you will need to sack or dismiss them. In law there are different conditions that need to be met before you can safely sack or dismiss an employee. For example, when dismissing staff, you must do it fairly. 

It is important to get advice from an employment specialist if you are thinking about dismissing your personal assistant. 

Further information about how you should go about dismissing someone is given on GOV.UK.

Dismissal is normally fair if an employer can show that it is for one of the following reasons:

  • a reason related to an employee's conduct
  • a reason related to an employee's capability or qualifications for the job
  • because of a redundancy
  • because a statutory duty or restriction prohibited the employment being continued
  • some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies the dismissal.

Please note that reasons such your employee is pregnant or wants to join a trade union will never be fair.

It is important to get advice if you are thinking about dismissing your personal assistant – the ACAS helpline is probably a good starting point. For more information, see the ACAS website.  

Further information about how you should go about dismissing someone is given on GOV.UK.

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Redundancy

Sometimes, when circumstances change, you may no longer need your personal assistant. If your needs change and either the type of work carried out by your personal assistant is no longer needed or they are no longer required because you move house, there may be a redundancy situation.

Redundancy has a very specific definition in law. You cannot make someone redundant just because you do not get on with them. If it is a true redundancy you would not immediately recruit a direct replacement for the personal assistant.

Personal assistants with two years' or more continuous service are entitled to redundancy pay and redundant personal assistants have the right to reasonable paid time off to look for other work. In cases where a private employer dies, a personal assistant is still entitled to receive redundancy pay. This is normally paid out from your estate although you may need to speak to the relevant people if payments were received from the Government (through direct payments from the Local Authority or NHS personal budgets) as they may cover the cost.

Further information on redundancy can be found on the GOV.UK website and ACAS have produced an advisory booklet called 'Redundancy Handling' that is available from their website.

If you believe you need to make your personal assistant redundant you should seek advice. The ACAS helpline is probably a good starting point. For more information, see the ACAS website.

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Retirement

If you want to retire a personal assistant due to their age you need to take specialist professional advice. You may have justification for wanting to retire a personal assistant if, for example, they no longer have the physical strength to carry out the tasks required of them.

Further information on your obligations with regard to retiring employees can be found on the ACAS website.

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Resignations

It is not unusual for your personal assistant’s employment to be terminated because they want to leave and have resigned. A resignation means your personal assistant letting you know that they want to finish working for you. There are many reasons why they may want to leave; for example, it could be because they have found another job that pays more or because they are moving away from the area or retiring.

If your personal assistant tells you they want to resign, there are certain things that you should do, for example, ask that they put their resignation in writing.

Find more information on the GOV.UK website.

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References

Whether your personal assistant has resigned, been made redundant or has been dismissed, you may be asked to provide a reference for them. Although you are not obliged to provide a reference, it is quite common in the care sector for offers of employment to be made subject to a satisfactory reference from a previous employer. Indeed, you will probably have asked for a reference from the previous employer of your personal assistant before they started work for you.

Giving references is not as straightforward as it seems. When you give a reference, you have a duty of care to the person/organisation who will receive the reference and a duty of care to your ex-personal assistant. Further advice on providing references is available on GOV.UK website

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