(This information is only relevant for Bridgend Direct Payments recipients, and this is set by Bridgend County Council.)
Our Bridgend Direct Payments team has taken some time to answer recurring questions to help you understand Bridgend Direct Payments a little better.
Note on PPE – Within Bridgend the cost for the purchase of PPE for the Personal Assistant can be reclaimed from the Direct Payment account. If you receive managed banking services then you will need to submit an invoice or receipt for proof of purchase to your allocated Independent Living Advisor in order for this cost to be reclaimed during payroll.
What if you decide as an employer not to use the support of your Personal Assistant?
If you as an employer choose not to use your Personal Assistant as you are worried about them entering your house, or for any other reason, then your employee will be entitled to be paid a retainer for their normal contracted hours of work. The retainer is their full rate of pay for their weekly contracted hours. This retainer should then be regularly reviewed and a restart date agreed when appropriate to do so.
2. What if your personal assistant is in a higher risk category, but has not received a letter from the government?
If your Personal Assistant feels they should have received a shielding letter they need to contact their GP in order to obtain a shielding letter and will then be eligible to claim SSP if they meet the qualifying criteria. In order to claim SSP they will need to contact their GP or NHS 111 to obtain a fit note which then needs to be submitted to Diverse Cymru in order to process SSP as part of the payroll. If your Personal Assistant is in a higher risk category but has not received a letter from the government then your Personal Assistant is still able to work with the required PPE e.g aprons and gloves.
3. What is the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility criteria?
The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £95.85 for up to 28 weeks. From 13th March 2020 if your Personal Assistant is self-isolating or shielding and meet the SSP qualifying criteria then you can start paying SSP from the first ‘qualifying day’ an employee is off work, as long as they are off for at least 4 days in a row.
If an employee was off sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) before 13th March, you start paying SSP from the fourth ‘qualifying day’.
To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) employees must:
- Have an employment contract
- Have done some work under their contract
- Earn an average of at least £120 per week
- Give you the correct notice
- Give you proof of their illness, only after 7 days off
Employees who were self-isolating before 13th March because someone else in their household had symptoms do not qualify for SSP.
Employees who start self-isolating after 13th March 2020 because someone they live with has coronavirus (COVID-19) also qualify for SSP if they meet the other above criteria.
Employees who have been paid less than 8 weeks of earnings still qualify for SSP.
4. Am I required to pay a Personal Assistant if a family member/child is in receipt of Direct Payments and is unable to go out into the community?
If a family member/child in receipt of Direct Payments is in the high risk group and therefore unable to go out into the community, then the Personal Assistant can still provide support but in a different way. They can provide support with food shopping for the family, collecting prescribed medication, playing an online game together, regular contact via skype or telephone. The PA is still able to work but can be utilised in a different way during this period.
5. My Personal Assistant is currently shielding and has received a letter from the government, do I to pay them even though they are unable to work?
If your Personal Assistants are in the shielding category and have received a letter they will be entitled to claim SSP as long as they meet the SSP qualifying criteria. In order to qualify for SSP they will need to contact NHS 111 or their GP to request that a fit note be produced. The fit note will then need to be provided to Diverse Cymru in order to process payroll.
6. Is my Personal Assistant able to support me with accessing the community e.g. going for a walk?
Government guidelines state you are unable to exercise with persons who do not live in the same household as you. Therefore a PA would be unable to take an individual out for a walk or their daily exercise. However, the Personal Assistant instead can still provide support but in a different way, they can provide support with food shopping, collecting prescribed medication, playing an online game together, regular contact via skype or telephone. The PA is still able to work but can be utilised in a different way during this period.
7. Can I Furlough my Personal Assistants if they are unable to work their normal hours?
Unfortunately the furlough scheme does not apply to those employers who receive Direct Payments as the Furlough scheme only applies to those when a business income is affected by the lockdown. In regards to Direct Payment funding the income is not affected as a result of the lockdown and therefore does not apply. Additionally, the scheme also stipulates that public funded money is not applicable for Furlough – which a Direct Payment is classed as.
8. Am I able to go out for exercise more than once a day under the current Government guidelines?
The Government guidance states that if you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health, then you can do so. This could include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.