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Step by step PA recruitment guide

Here is our comprehensive guide to employing a PA.

If you are an employer, for example if you employ a personal assistant, you are required by law to have certain insurance cover in place. Get yourself protected & make sure you take out Employers and Public Liability Insurance before you even begin advertising for a PA.

Please ensure the policy cover you select includes access to an employment helpline, legal cover & redundancy cover.

Why do I need to have insurance?

Individual employers need to have employer’s liability insurance to make sure that you and your personal assistants are protected if an accident or incident happens.  

The specific details of your insurance policy can differ between companies, but they typically include three key elements employer’s

  • liability
  • public liability
  • legal expenses. 

Employer’s liability insurance and/or public liability insurance is essential. As an employer you have a legal duty to insure against accidents or injury to your staff, or accidents or injury caused by them while they are working for you. 

  • Employer’s liability insurance covers you if your personal assistant(s) make a compensation claim because they have been injured or fall ill because of their work. 
  • Public liability insurance covers you if anyone else makes a compensation claim because they have been injured or if their property gets damaged, by you or your personal assistant(s). 

In our experience, if there is good communication between an Employer and their PA, there are very few problems that cannot be amicably resolved, however, if things do go wrong your insurance company will provide you with legal advice on what you need to do.

How do I arrange my insurance?

You can contact them directly to arrange cover or a member of the DP and PA Support Hub can support you with this if needed.

How do I pay for the insurance?

Funds to cover the cost of the insurance are included in your Direct Payment.

What are the choices of Insurance provider?

Insurance cover to protect people using direct payments to employ their own personal assistants is provided by the companies below or you may want to use your own.

Mark Bates Ltd: The Home of Premier Care  or phone: 01476 514478. If you are choosing this provider please select the Deluxe Policy

Independent living: expert advice and information (Fish insurance) or phone: 00333 331 3770. If you are choosing this provider please select the Care Protect policy

Want to know more?

A job description is a list of tasks that you would like your personal assistant to do. 

A person specification is a list of the skills, experience and personal qualities that you would like your personal assistant to have.  

If you have a care plan you may have specific requirements that you will need to think about when writing the job description and person specification. 

Think about what makes your ideal personal assistant. 

  • List the skills that you would like your personal assistant to have, for example, whether you need someone who can drive or has good communication skills. 
  • Think about their values, for example, a sense of humour, patience or being able to use their initiative. 
  • List the tasks that you would like your personal assistant to do, for example, support at work, with personal care, or making meals. 
  • You might also want to think about your own cultural and religious needs and whether you want to employ someone who understands them. 

Download a sample job description and person specification

Your job advert should include the following information – remember this is about the type of person that you want to be your personal assistant.  

Experience and/or qualifications

A brief description about the type of person that you want to apply. 

  • Think about what values, skills, experience and qualifications they need.  
  • Say if you want someone who has the experience or qualifications (or both) so that they can meet your needs. 

Hours, type of work and main duties 

State the days and times that you need your personal assistant to work and a summary of the type of work that you want them to do. 

Rate of pay 

You will need to pay at least the national living wage. Leeds DP & PA Hub can provide you with details of the standard hourly PA rates for Direct Payments in Leeds.

General location 

Tell people the area they will be working so they can make sure that they are able to get there when you need them. Do not give out your home address at this stage. 

Tell people how you want them to apply, for example, by completing an application form or sending you a copy of their CV. This is your choice, and you could ask them to do both. 

Download the application form template.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

A DBS check is a way for employers to check a persons criminal record, to help decide whether they are a suitable person to work for them. We strongly recommend that all PA’s have a DBS check. If your PA will be caring for your children or working unsupervised in the house when there are children in the house then a DBS check must be completed before the PA can start work. It is important that you are clear in the advertisement if a DBS check will be needed.

Other information 

Give any other information about what is important to you, for example, if they must be a driver for example. 


Say that you will ask for references. It is usual to ask for two. 

Your Leeds DP & PA Support Hub team may be able to accept applications on your behalf. 

See ways that you can advertise for a personal assistant. Your direct payment or personal health budget adviser or local support organisation may have other helpful suggestions. 

  • UKCIL has a list of people looking for work as a personal assistant. UKCIL - Find A Personal Care Assistant in Leeds (
  • You may know someone who would be interested in being your personal assistant. Before you ask them, it is important to think about how an employer/employee relationship may affect your personal relationship.
  • Advertise on the notice boards of your local shops and other places that you like to go. This could reach people in your area that have a similar interest as you. 
  • Advertise online using social media, like Instagram and Facebook.
  • Advertise in local colleges or universities for students looking for work and experience. Remember that some students go home when they are on a break from university, and you need to consider how this could impact you. You could ask them about this in the application process. Leeds University Job Link
  • Your local Jobcentre Plus will advertise your job for free and will often help you to write the advert. 

This is often called ‘shortlisting’ because you are making a short list of all of the applications that you have received. 

One way to decide who to interview could be to use the job description and person specification to rate the applications. You must also make sure your selection criteria is fair and that you do not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of protected characteristics e.g. age, race, gender or sexual orientation. Leeds DP and PA Support Hub can advise you on how to keep safe during recruitment.

Once you have made your decision, you can contact the candidates and ask them to attend an interview.

Interviewing can be as nervous for you as it is for the person that you are interviewing, so here is a step by step process to guide you through it. 

Where should the interview take place?

We recommend conducting remote interviews to shortlist candidates in the first instance, for example by telephone or video calls. We recommend that any subsequent face to face interviews are conducted in a neutral public venue. Remember;

  • meet in a public location where you feel safe and your well-being
  • Remember you are meeting this person for the first time so its best to be somewhere where other people are likely to be. 

Location examples include: your local library, a social care centre, a community centre or a favourite coffee shop.

Leeds DP and PA Support Hub can help you book a room in many Leeds City Council buildings across the city.

Prepare for the interview

Arrange a venue and, if required, arrange for someone to support you. Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask each candidate, for example, their work experience, and why they want to work for you. Leeds DP and PA Hub can provide you with suggested interview questions or you can create your own. It is also a good idea to think of a particular situation that is relevant to you and ask them how they would deal with it. 

Do not interview alone

It is a good idea to ask a friend or someone you know to do the interviewing with you. It is always good to have another opinion, but do not let the other person influence your decision making – you make the final decision. 

Allow time between interviews

Take a break between interviews and make some notes of the answers to your questions. This will help you to remember each candidate and make your decision about who to offer the job to. 

Do not rush a decision

If you are not sure who to offer the job to, sleep on it, ask for more information, or even re-interview. If you did not think that anyone was good enough, then you can re-advertise and interview different people. 

Want more information? 

The Government also has practical advice to help you to employ people, on their website.  

Once you have decided who you want to employ, contact them and offer them the job. 

Download the ‘Letter offering the job’ template. 

Tell them that you will first need to check their references and carry out any other checks (for example, a DBS check).

Informing unsuccessful candidates 

Once your preferred person has accepted the job, let the people know who did not get the job. 

Download the ‘Letter turning down an applicant’ template. 

There are some checks that you need to do before someone starts working for you. 


Candidates should supply references when they apply for the job. They are the name and contact details of someone that knows them, often a previous employer. 

They help you to make sure that the information that people have told you is correct. It is also good to have the opinion of someone who already knows the person that you want to employ. You can ask for a reference in writing and by telephone. 

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 

DBS checks help you to know whether people have a criminal conviction and should only be done for a successful job applicant. If a child is involved then a DBS check must be completed prior to the PA starting work. Contact the Leeds DP & PA Support Hub to arrange for a DBS check for your PA:


T: 0113 3783936

Right to work check 

Before you offer someone the job you need to check that they have the legal right to work in the UK. You will need to check and keep copies of certain documents before your personal assistant starts. Leeds DP and PA Hub can advise you about these.

Visit the Government website for more information about right to work checks. 

Want more information?

You must have an agreement, ‘contract of employment’, between you and your employees so that you are both clear about each other’s responsibilities. It gives details of employment rights, responsibilities and duties - these are called the ‘terms’ of the contract. 

This section outlines what you should include in the contract of employment.  

Probationary period 

This is an amount of time when you can find out what your new personal assistant is like, and allows them to think about whether they are suited to the job. Set a probationary period that is suitable for you, for example, three months. 

At the end of the probationary period, you should either confirm that you would like your employee to continue their role, that you would like to extend the probationary period or that you want to end their employment. 

Working time, hours and breaks  

This will be the hours that you want your personal assistant to work. It is also an opportunity to say what the process is if your personal assistant is going to be late or is unable to turn up for work. 

Salary and when it will be paid  

This is where you say how much your personal assistant will be paid, when you will pay them (for example, monthly) and how you will pay them (for example, BACS). As an employer you have a legal responsibility to deduct National Insurance and income tax, which will be done by your payroll service, details of which will be included in your Direct Payment.

Holiday entitlement 

You should say how much holiday your personal assistant is entitled to per year and when the holiday year starts and finishes, for example, 1 April – 31 March. Your payroll service will provide these details. It is good to be clear about things like how bank holidays will be treated and the process for agreeing time off. Most full-time workers are legally entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year.

Holiday pay 

Holiday pay must be based on the worker’s average pay. So, if their normal pay includes extra money for working unsociable hours, so must the holiday pay, your payroll service will be able to calculate this, ask them for details.

If someone stops working for you, they are entitled to be paid for any holiday that they are due but have not taken. 

Bank and public holidays 

You do not have to give your personal assistant paid time off for bank and public holidays, but you need to be clear about this in their contract of employment. 

Sick leave and sick pay arrangements 

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are unable to work because of illness. Your payroll service will calculate if your PA is entitled to SSP.

  • For up to seven days of sickness your personal assistant can self-certificate. After seven days your personal assistant will need to produce a statement of fitness (or fit note) from their doctor. 

What happens when you are away?

For example, on holiday without your personal assistant or if you have to go into hospital. Leeds DP & PA Support Hub can advise on this.

Notice period for both of you 

If your personal assistant wants to stop working for you, the ‘notice period’ is the amount of time that they must work after they have told you that they want to leave. 

Using a payroll service  

Payroll schemes can make sure that your personal assistant’s tax, National Insurance and pension contributions are deducted correctly, tell you how much employers National Insurance to pay, sort out your paperwork and deal with the tax office (HMRC) for you. 

Leeds CIL provide a payroll service as part of your Direct Payment and they will contact you to discuss who they will support you. Contact details:

Leeds CIL

PA Payroll Service
T: 0113 231 1125

How much should I pay my personal assistant?  

You must provide a payslip and pay at least the minimum wage. PA pay rates will be detailed in your support plan.

A wide variety of training is available through Leeds City Council that is free for both yourself and your PA(s). Training is available as e-learning, webinars and classroom based.

Training for PAs

Good training will make your PA feel valued & more confident in their job. This means you will get better support and your PA is more likely to stay with you for a long time.

At the Leeds PA Training Hub we have a range of training for PA’s. We have essential and core paid training to support PA's in their role delivering the best support for their employers.  If you would like develop your skills further we also have a range of free training available which you can complete in your own time.

It is important that your personal assistant has the training that they need, to be able to work for you.  If you have a care plan in place, you should think about what training your personal assistant needs to meet that plan. This should include any clinical responsibilities that they have. 

Contact the Training Hub:

Website: Leeds Training Hub - PA Training Offer

Phone: 0113 378 5032

Keep a record of any training that your personal assistant does and ask for a copy of the certificate if they have one. 

Training for you, as an employer 

You might also want to do some training to help you to be a better employer, particularly if you are new to employing staff. 

Website: Leeds Training Hub - Employer Training Offer

Phone: 0113 378 5032

When your personal assistant starts, you should plan an induction to explain what you want them to do, how you want things to be done and introducing them to their workplace. Leeds DP and PA Support Hub can provide a template.

Make a list of things that you need to tell your new personal assistant on their first day. For example: 

  • go through the contract of employment 
  • explain your house rules (if you have any), for example, wearing slippers or indoor shoes, using a phone and eating arrangements 
  • show them where things are kept 
  • tell them when they can take breaks 
  • explain any recording that they need to do, for example, notes about their shift

Keep a record of what your personal assistant does during their induction. If they feel that you are asking them to do something that is risky or that goes against what they have been trained to do, they have the right to say no. 

Value and respect your personal assistant. Meet with your personal assistant at set times, to talk about the job. This could be, for example, once a month during the probationary period and every three or six months afterwards. 

This is called a supervision.  Supervisions are a two-way discussions between you and your personal assistant, that help you to assess if your personal assistant is doing the job in the way that you want, give you the chance to give constructive feedback and to praise staff for their good work and provide an opportunity to address any problems and find better ways to do things, such as by doing training. 

Getting support with supervision 

Ask the Leeds DP & PA Support Hub about support with supervisions.

If your personal assistant(s) are happy in their work and fairly treated, they are more likely to keep working with you. 

  • Pay your personal assistants correctly and on time. 
  • Provide other benefits for working with you, for example, support for training. 

Good communication 

Communication is about passing on information, developing understanding and building relationships. Crucially, it is more about listening than talking. 

Tell your personal assistant about preferred methods of communication, if they need to make use of interpreters, equipment or visual aids and when to seek guidance from your family or other people that know you well. 

You should not employ a personal assistant unless you, and they, are confident that you can understand each other, or will be able to after training or instruction. 

Where possible, try to make sure that small matters that may be causing problems are dealt with as early as possible. This will stop them escalating into a bigger problem. 

Set clear boundaries 

Your relationship with your personal assistant(s) may not be like more formal employer/employee relationships. 

Sometimes, personal assistants can end up feeling more like friends than employees. This can be a good thing as it means that there is a bit more ‘give and take’ on both sides. But it can also mean that if things don’t go to plan the relationship may make it difficult to deal with. 

When you employ a personal assistant, think about how you will make boundaries clear, and how you will deal with it if the boundaries are over-stepped. This is a good thing to talk about in induction and supervision. 

Looking after your money 

There are some things that you should not do, including: 

  • never lend or borrow money to or from your personal assistant 
  • do not ask your personal assistant to use their money to shop for you 
  • do not leave money around the house, other than that you want your personal assistant to access 
  • do not reveal your bank PIN number to anybody that is not authorised 
  • do not allow your personal assistant to become a signatory on your bank or building society account 
  • never advance your personal assistant’s wages or get involved with your personal assistant’s financial affairs 
  • personal assistants should never become the person who signs financial documents on your behalf (appointee). 

You have a legal responsibility to make sure that your personal assistant remains safe and healthy whilst doing their job. 

As an employer you must: 

  • carry out risk assessments on your home, including around your pets that you keep 
  • think about any training that your personal assistant(s) need 
  • tell your personal assistant(s) about health and safety, including what to do in a fire
  • record (and possibly report) any accidents that take place in your home 
  • take out employer’s liability insurance. 

Download the ‘Safety in the home checklist’ and ‘Risk assessment’ template. 

As an employer, by law, you need to keep the following records – these are called statutory records: 

  • tax and national insurance information 
  • for most workers it is advisable to keep records of individual hours worked to enable averaging over a period, to meet the requirements of the Working Time Regulations 1998 
  • holidays, again for the Working Time Regulations 1998 
  • pay, to ensure that the requirements of the Minimum Wage Act 1998 are being met, and to meet the statutory requirement that workers are issued with wage slips
  • paid sickness for more than four days and Statutory Sick Pay 
  • accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences. The Health and Safety Executive can advise on particular requirements and necessary assessments. 

Visit the Government website for more information about keeping personal data and record keeping. 

Last updated: 6/10/2024