Direct payments – questions you might have about direct payments and the Covid19.

Information regarding Direct Payment employers and Personal Assistants:

The government has published new adult social care guidance to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19. The news story is available online https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-adult-social-care-guidance-to-protect-the-most-vulnerable-against-covid-19

New COVID-19: guidance on residential care, supported living and home care is also available online. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

Here are some answers to questions you might have about direct payments in this time of the coronavirus emergency. 

Yes - your Council will ensure that your payments will continue to be paid on your regular payment dates.

Yes.

WECIL’s biggest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community – both customers and staff. In order to reduce exposure to the virus we have made some changes to WECIL services. From 17th March 2020 our offices will be closed until further notice, but we will continue to offer telephone on 0117 947 9933 and email support at dpsupport@wecil.co.uk

We have taken the decision to stop all home visits. This will begin on 17th March 2020 and will last two weeks. We will then decide whether we need to continue to stop home visits and let you know.

No.

The WECIL Office is closed until further notice. But you can still get your timesheet information to us. We are all working remotely and still providing your payroll service. Most people already submit their timesheet by email to Payroll@wecil.co.uk and this is our preferred option. You can send timesheets as a photo or a typed message.

The second option is by Text or WhatsApp to 07973685919.

The third option is to phone your hours into 0117 947 9943 (this is our least preferred option and you may need to leave a message if lines are busy)

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Covid 19 infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

As the employee is considered to be unfit for work, if they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp

If they do not qualify please sign post them to this link for possible financial support i.e. Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

Assuming your PA employees are themselves fit and willing to attend work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties. It is essential that you and they take very seriously any new rules on health and safety procedures you implement based on government guidance. It is not just for their own protection but also to prevent the spread of infection to other people in the household, fellow colleagues and the public at large when leaving your home

Due to coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), as the employer I am self-isolating; or my personal assistant is unable to come to work as they are at risk because of an underlying health condition for example they are pregnant or a close family member living in the same household as myself has coronavirus, I therefore need to self-isolate.

· Will my personal assistant still be paid?

· How much will my personal assistant be paid?

· Will my personal assistant be paid their full wages?

· What if my personal assistant is not eligible to receive statutory sick pay because they do not earn enough?

If under government guidance your PA is required to self-isolate, follow this link for how long this should be. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

If as a Direct Payment employer you feel it is safer for your Personal Assistants to self-isolate at home for your safety, even though they have not displayed symptoms, you will need to pay them if they are on contracted hours.  

If they do not qualify please sign post them to this link for possible financial support i.e. Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

The statutory sick pay (SSP) (general) (coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force Friday 13th March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance there no need for formal written notice to be given by medical officer. 

Yes, you are able to use your direct payment funding to purchase personal protection equipment.

Please note: For employers of PAs and PAs themselves wanting to know more about how Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used please see the Public Health guidance 

Normally the employer must ensure their employees are adequately protected but with PPE in short supply, WECIL are working closely with Local Authorities to distribute PPE as appropriate. We will contact DP recipients in the area (whether WECIL customers or not) to arrange this.

If the PA chooses not to work and there is no identified high risk then no pay (other than authorised annual leave) will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

The government has published a list of key workers including health and social care workers. PAs are defined as care workers, therefore key workers. This means your PAs children can continue to attend school. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

The PA will need to contact their relevant school for further information.

You do not have to pay sick pay for self-employed personal assistants. Self-employed personal assistants should be following government advice in relation to claiming benefits.

The Government are changing financial measures daily but have committed to doing whatever is needed to help the nation come through this crisis. It has been announced that the Government are making provisions for loans to small businesses who have suffered interruption to their businesses.

The Government have announced that those affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending the job centre. The 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply so it will be payable from day one.

Self-employed claimants for Universal Credit will not have a ‘Minimum Income Floor’ applied for a period of time while affected.

Yes, if your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines and earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp

Yes, you are able to use your direct payments for these purposes if this maintains you in your home.

  • If you live in Bristol, for adults call Bristol Care Direct on 0117 9222 700 as soon as possible.
  • If you live in Bristol, for children call Disabled Children’s Team on 0117 9032 850 as soon as possible.
  • If you live in South Gloucestershire, for adults call Adult Social Work Team 01454 868 007 as soon as possible.
  • If you live in South Gloucestershire, for children call Social Work Team 01454 866 000 as soon as possible.
  • If you live in Bath and North East Somerset, for children call Disabled Children’s Duty Team 01225 396 913 as soon as possible.
  • If you live in Bath and North East Somerset, for Adults call Virgincare 0300 303 9509 as soon as possible.
  • If you are calling in an emergency, out of office hours the number to call is 01454 615 165