Direct payments during the Coronavirus outbreak

Together with Penderels Trust we have put together this information to help answer some of the most common questions we are receiving.  If you have any further enquiries then please contact Penderels Trust on 01302 897115, you will be prompted to leave your details for a member of the team to call you back, alternatively, you could email your query to doncaster@penderelstrust.org.uk for a prompter response.

We know people who have a direct payment and might also employ their own personal assistant for their care and support are really worried about Coronavirus COVID-19.

In this time of uncertainty, ensuring people who need care and support is a priority. There have been assurances from national government that local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will do everything in their power to keep care going.

Government information

The government has now released national guidance for people receiving direct payments.

National Guidance

Clarity on self-isolation periods

Some people are confused about how long they or their staff need to self-isolate if they are in a vulnerable group (such as being over 70 years old or having an underlying health condition or disability) or if they, or someone in their household, are showing symptoms. You can read the latest NHS advice on self isolating on the NHS website.

Self Isolation Advice

 

People on a direct payment who pay an agency to provide their care and support:

Am I able to carry on paying my agency even though I am self-isolating and no longer receiving care from them?

Yes. Doncaster Council is following government advice and making payment up to the end of June 2020 to support suppliers to ensure business and service continuity.  Rather than cancelling your care you may want to think about how you could still use the carer’s time to get shopping or a prescription.  If you are not able to do this, you may want to speak to your provider about suspending care for an agreed short period of time - if this is 7-14 days, you can manage this without any social work support or a reassessment.

I am self-isolating, and I have cancelled my care but my provider wants to continue to charge me without providing my care, but I am not getting any support. What should I do?

You should consider if there anything in particular during this time you could use support with such as shopping or meal preparation (with safe practices) to maintain the package in place.  You may also be able to negotiate banking some care hours for use when you have recovered. If this is not possible, you should refer back to your contract.  If you will be recovered in 7-14 days the care can be restarted and you may wish to pay a retainer.  If it is longer, you may wish to cancel the care package and refer back to the council for a reassessment when you require some support to be re-established.

The provider I have employed to deliver support to me is not able to do so because of the restrictions that have been put in place in response to the Coronavirus. Can I make a payment to the Provider to help secure their sustainability so that in the future I will be able to access their support once again?

Yes, in paying your provider you are supporting the provider to sustain their business, as they will continue to have ongoing costs.  Please speak to your provider about the amount you contribute in order to help secure their business and give you confidence they will be in a position to support you once again in the future.

People who are required to make a client contribution:

I am self-isolating, I have cancelled my care. Do I still have to pay my client contribution?

Yes, you are provided with an annual budget and have the choice and control over when you use this budget. Your client contribution is calculated based on the annual budget and is payable weekly irrespective of whether or not care is received in that week. 

People on a direct payment who employ staff:

If my PA has to self-isolate, will they get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Yes, if they are eligible (earn over £118/week).  They will be paid from the first day rather than the fourth day of their illness. This will be applied retrospectively from 13th March 2020.  They can get a self-isolation note by visiting 111 Online.

My PA says they are self-isolating. Do I need them to provide me with a fit note from the doctor or NHS 111?

If your PA says they are self-isolating, they will not be able to go to their doctor and are being asked not to call NHS111 unless they really need to.  You do not need evidence from your PA to be able to claim SSP for them.  If they are self-isolating and then become sick, they should let you know (by telephone not in person).

My PA is self-isolating and I need to pay SSP, will I get it refunded?

Yes.  SSP will be paid out through payroll and claimed back via HMRC.  Your payroll provider will deal with this for you.  This refund will be for up to two weeks per employee.

If my PA has to self-isolate or is off sick due to Coronavirus and is not eligible for SSP, what do they do?

Those affected by the Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a job centre. Please visit the government advice on universal credit website for more information.

My PA cannot work as I am self-isolating. Do I need to pay them?

Before you lay them off, it is worth considering other options.  It is a good idea to discuss these options with the PA to secure the future working relationship.

If your PA cannot do their usual work because you are self-isolating, consider in the first instance other tasks they can do outside the home e.g. shopping, collecting medication, walking the dog. They would be paid their normal wages.

You could ask your PA to take annual leave but they don’t have to agree as you will not have given them the sufficient amount of notice as stated in the contract (e.g. you would normally have to give them a week’s notice before asking them to take some annual leave which would not be possible in this situation). They would be paid their normal wages.

If you, as the employer, are effectively closing the workplace on a temporary basis, you will still need to pay your PA. Please note that the new ‘furloughed worker’ scheme (Job Retention Scheme) recently announced by the Government is not intended to cover job roles that are already funded by public money. This includes PAs as they are funded via the direct payment. It is expected that the usual funding route is used i.e. direct payment money is used to pay for PAs who have been asked not to work. If you are going to pay your PA you will need to ensure this is clearly stated on the timesheets as a retainer.

Where can I find supporting information?

The Skills for Care website has lots of additional useful information.

People who employ staff and fully fund their own care

If my PA has to self-isolate, will they get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Yes, if they are eligible (earn over £120/week). They will be paid from day one rather than the fourth day of their illness. This will be applied retrospectively from 13th March 2020. They can get a self-isolation note by visiting
NHS 111 Online.

My PA says they are self-isolating. Do I need them to provide me with a fit note from the doctor or NHS 111?

If your PA says they are self-isolating, they will not be able to go to their doctor and are being asked not to call NHS111 unless they really need to. You do not need evidence from your PA to be able to claim SSP for them. If they are self-isolating and then become sick, they should let you know (by telephone not in person). They can get a sick note from NHS 111 Online.

My PA is self-isolating and I need to pay SSP, will I get it refunded?

Yes. SSP will be paid out through payroll and claimed back via HMRC. Your payroll provider will deal with this for you if you have one. You can claim the first two weeks back but any further weeks must be paid by you.

If my PA has to self-isolate or is off sick due to Coronavirus and is not eligible for SSP, what do they do?

Those affected by the Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a jobcentre. Please visit Understanding Universal Credit for more information.

 My PA cannot work as I am self-isolating. Do I need to pay them?

It is a good idea to discuss the options available with the PA to secure the future working relationship.

If your PA cannot do their usual work because you are self-isolating, consider in the first instance other tasks they can do outside the home e.g. shopping, collecting medication, walking the dog. They would be paid their normal wages.

You could ask your PA to take annual leave but they don’t have to agree as you will not have given them the sufficient amount of notice as stated in the contract (e.g. you would normally have to give them a week’s notice before asking them to take annual leave which would not be possible in this situation). They would be paid their normal wages.

If the PA is willing and able to work but you, as the employer, are telling them not to come in, you still need to pay them. As you self-fund your care, you should be able to apply for the Job Retention Scheme as recently announced by the Government. This scheme is being set up to protect people’s future employment. The government will pay you, as the employer, 80% of the employee’s wage costs (including tax, national insurance and any pension costs). You must pay your employee a minimum of 80% of their normal wages but you can pay them more if you wish. They would then become what is called a ‘furloughed worker’. They cannot do any work for you whilst they are furloughed but they could work for someone else or do some volunteer work, with your agreement. The Job Retention Scheme is now open and accessed via the HMRC Gateway. If you use a payroll provider, they may be able to support you with this. For more information on the Job Retention scheme, please visit their website. Please speak to your insurance provider for case-by-case advice on this.

My PA is showing symptoms but does not want to self-isolate and says she/he is fit for work. What do I do?

They must go home in line with Government guidance.

My PA(s) can’t work. I still need care and support. What do I do?

You need to refer to your contingency plan. If that is not possible e.g. the care agency isn’t able to provide care, you will need to ask friends and family for help. If you are unable to do this, please refer to social services for support. There are lots of community and volunteer groups who may be able to help.

My PA has young children. She wants to bring them to work as their school has closed. Neither the PA nor the children are displaying symptoms. Is this ok?

In normal times, for reasons of safety and welfare, children cannot be brought into the workplace. Your employer’s liability insurance would be invalid if this happened and they were to have an accident. In a genuine emergency, you, as the employer, would need to consider whether to exercise discretion and allow some flexibility if absolutely necessary to ensure your own essential care needs continued to be met.

It would be preferable to refer to your contingency arrangements to allow the PA to make alternative childcare arrangements. If the PA needs time off for childcare, they can use annual leave (and be paid) or
take ‘time off for dependents’ which is unpaid.

The government has confirmed that PAs are classed as ‘key workers’ (someone who is employed to deliver an essential service and must be supported to continue to work). This means that if they are a single parent or the other parent is also a key worker, they can send their child to school or other childcare provision.

I am in the ‘high risk’ category and have received a letter from the NHS saying I need to stay at home for 12 weeks. Can my PA still work for me?

Yes, your PA can still work for you as your care and support needs will continue. It is really important that everyone you come into contact with (your PA and anyone else who lives in your house) follows strict NHS guidelines on hygiene to reduce risk. If you have personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, aprons or masks, you should use them but we know they are in short supply.

My PA is in the ‘high risk’ (shielded) category and has been told to self-isolate for 12 weeks. Should I still pay her?

If she is eligible, you should pay her Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the full period. You can claim the first two weeks back but you will need to cover the cost of the other 10 weeks.

My PA says he cannot work as his wife is in the ‘high risk’ (shielded) category and has received a letter from the NHS saying she needs to stay at home for 12 weeks. Should I still pay him?

If he is eligible, you should pay him Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if he is self-isolating because a household member is ‘high risk’ and in the shielded category. You can claim the first two weeks back but you will need to cover the cost of the other 10 weeks.

I have a PA on a zero hours contract who takes my son with additional needs to leisure activities. These activities are now closed so I don’t need him. Should I still pay him or should he be ‘furloughed’?

If the PA is willing and able to work but there is no longer any work for him to do, you may be able to apply for the Job Retention Scheme as recently announced by the Government.

You will need to work out the PA’s average earnings over the last 12 months. The government will pay you, as the employer, 80% of the employee’s wage costs (including tax, national insurance and any pension costs) based on their average earnings. You must pay your employee a minimum of 80% of their normal wages but you can pay them more if you wish. They would then become what is called a
‘furloughed worker’.

They cannot do any work for you whilst they are furloughed but they could work for someone else or do some volunteer work, with your agreement. The Job Retention Scheme will be run through an HMRC online system which is due to go live at the end of April. If you use a payroll provider, they may be able to support you with this.

For more information on the Job Retention scheme, please visit this website.

I don’t want my PA to come to work as a family member can care for me as I feel that is less risky. Can I pay the family member instead of the PA?

You must still pay the PA as they are still willing and able to work but you have told them not to. If you need to self-isolate, you can apply to the Job Retention scheme to ‘furlough’ your PA (please see previous answer on self-isolation). You cannot simply replace your PA with a family member unless there is a health and safety reason to do so.

I am now going to pay a family member as my PA, what do I need to do?

If the family member has been ‘furloughed’ by another employer, they may be able to work for you providing the contract from their employer allows it.

If the family member is currently unemployed and receiving benefits, they must declare this new employment.

If the family member is currently receiving Carers’ Allowance, they must declare that they are now a paid carer.

The family member should be set up as a new employee with your payroll provider if you use one and pay tax and national insurance as a PAYE employee.

The family member must receive Terms & Conditions of Employment from you, as their employer, on their first day of paid work.

Please note that Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay are not affected. 
Last updated: 24 April 2020 10:48:56