If your PA is unable work due to self-isolation or sickness
The current Government guidance is to stay at home if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. More information on the symptoms of the virus can be found on the NHS website, and you can also find advice about self-isolating here. If your PA needs to self-isolate at home, they should not visit or care for you, or provide support until it is safe to do so.
If your PA is displaying symptoms, they will need to stay home and self-isolate, or you may need to ask them to stay home. If your PA earns above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) would apply from day one. From Friday 13 March, new SSP regulations came into force so there is no need for your PA to provide formal written notice by a medical practitioner at this time.
If they do not qualify for SSP, then they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form of Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.
If you have to make any alternative arrangements or if you are having difficulties in doing so please ensure that you notify your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below). This is to ensure that your care needs are being met and that the Direct Payment Audit team are aware of any temporary arrangements and to expect new payees from your DP/PHB account.
However – if your PA is not displaying symptoms and you ask them not to perform duties through fear of your own safety, you may still be contractually obligated to pay your PA at their contracted hourly rate.
If your PA chooses not to come to work
If your PA chooses not to work, but isn’t displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 and isn’t identified as in the high risk categories as defined by the Government, then this should be considered as an unauthorised absence and therefore no payment should be made. PAs can request to take annual leave as an alternative.
Your PA has children, and cannot work due to childcare.
PAs are considered to be key workers as per the Government’s list.
Therefore you should advise your PA to contact the child’s education facility so they can continue to perform work. Should your PA decide not to allow their child to continue in their normal education facility, this should be treated as unauthorised absence as above – see ‘If your PA chooses not to come to work’
Please see https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave for more information.
If your PA can work, they should continue to fulfil their normal duties. However both you and your PA should adhere to all Government guidance and take all necessary safety procedures.
Can family members be paid out of the agreed Direct Payment/Personal Health Budget if PAs are not available?
Whilst Portsmouth City Council do allow family members and/or people that live with you to be paid from your DP/PHB in some circumstances, this is subject to the local Authority’s discretion and only with prior consent.
When considering paying a family member, the financial implications for the family should also be considered, as the new income may affect any existing benefits or allowances that they may currently receive.
Please contact your Practitioner, District Nurse or the Duty Team at Portsmouth City Council (contact details below), each request will be considered on a case by case basis and will require agreement from the Practitioner or District Nurse before any payment will be authorised.
For short term emergency arrangements, (i.e. up to 72 hours) local authority consent is not required. However, you will need to ensure that you notify HMRC as soon as possible for any tax implications. Additionally, you should advise the carer that any income received may affect any existing benefits or allowances that they may currently receive.
What is the Governments expectation on furloughing of PAs?
In general the government does not expect many applications for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme for people who employ PA’s through Direct Payments. This is because the requirement for service(s) continues and as considered “key role” delivery of care will still be required, and payment should still be met.
In the small number of cases where your PA cannot provide services and they cannot be redeployed to assist with the Coronavirus response, they may wish to make a claim, full details of why they are not able to work will need to be provided and their application will be assessed on a case by case basis.
You can find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and how it can be used by direct payment holders who employ people for their care on the goverment’s website.