Following the publication last month of the Care Quality Commission’s own report showing that a record number of care homes are failing to provide acceptable standards of care, it should not come as a surprise that more people are now choosing to employ their own live-in carers. But before rushing into hiring a carer directly it is crucial to understand the responsibilities you will be taking on as an employer, warns law firm Adams & Remers.
Since the CQC report was published over the summer I personally have become aware of an increase in people now looking to employ a carer directly for themselves or for an elderly relative and, looking through the adverts for positions available, more people are specifically advertising for carers for people with complex medical and age related conditions. Many people are still unaware of the employment status the carer will have or seek to cut costs by turning a ‘blind eye’ to employment rules or will claim the carer is self employed.
Live-in carers are almost certainly going to have ‘employee’ status. This means they will enjoy the highest level of protection under employment legislation. Their rights will include being given a written statement of employment, statutory sick pay, written reasons for dismissal and notice on termination. After at least two years’ continuous service, they will also benefit from the right not to be unfairly dismissed and, in a redundancy situation, they will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. It is important therefore to determine the correct employment status of the carer.
You must be prepared to act as an employer to anyone you ‘employ’ in the home and that is something people still don’t fully take into consideration, especially those that are elderly and who are seeking help directly. Under the Working Time Regulations, you will be responsible for everything from ensuring that wages meet the national minimum standards and paying tax, to securing cover when your carer takes their annual leave (28 days paid for full time workers), or if they should fall ill for a long-period of time. However unlike normal workers they will not benefit from the maximum average 48 hour working week, a limit of 8 hours work in a 24 hour period, health assessments in respect of night work and adequate rest breaks for monotonous patterns of work. Taking out employers liability insurance is another necessity to ensure that you are covered if your carer injures themselves whilst working in your home.
Many people ask what to do about a carer when making provisions in their Will and thought has to be given to this to ensure that any benefit under the will is not subject to tax as remuneration. When an employer dies, the carer’s employment contract will be frustrated. This means the carer’s contract automatically terminates on the date that the employer dies, unless the carer is re-employed by the personal representative. The carer will not be entitled to notice pay, but if they have more than two years’ continuous service, they will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. The carer will also be entitled to receive pay in lieu of any accrued but untaken holiday.
Live-in carers are an alternative to residential care homes, especially those that are failing to deliver adequate facilities and satisfactory standards of care. Employing a carer directly can be extremely rewarding, provided you understand your role as the employer.