A guide for Personal Assistants

Are Personal Assistants employed or self-employed?

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) decide whether a Personal Assistant (PA) is self-employed or employed based on the type of work the PA does. It is not as simple as you and the person you work for deciding what kind of employment arrangement you would like.

This is important because if a PA working as self-employed is later found to be employed then their client can become liable for all the tax that should have been paid.

The law says that it is the nature of the arrangement between the worker and the person paying them which determines whether the work is being done on an employed or self-employed basis.

HMRC says that a PA is almost always ‘employed’ if they:

  • have to do the work themselves, meaning it would not be acceptable for them to send someone else
  • work for only one person
  • are told how, when and where they will do their work
  • have to work a set amount of hours at times set by the client
  • are paid a regular amount according to the hours they have worked, and get paid for working overtime.

This means that a personal assistant might work for some clients and be self-employed, but work for others on an employed basis because of the nature of the work.

The rules are the same whether the person paying the worker is paying them privately or whether they are using direct payments provided by the council.

Where to get advice

You can contact HMRC by calling their mobile-friendly general enquiries helpline on 0300 200 3300.

If you are unsure whether a contract would be considered self-employment or employment, HMRC have tools to help:

If you decide to become a self-employed PA accredited by Support with Confidence, you’ll be provided with further training and support to become a ‘sole trader’ business.

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