She was very comfortable in her house, but needed more help with shopping and cleaning and helping her to stay active. She also really missed having a companion in the evenings. She tried using a carer's agency who sent her nice people to look after her when she needed it. However, not all the carers sent to her were nice, so she asked them to send her the ones she did like and got on well with, who knew her little ways, but they were unable to accommodate her.
So she went to those carers she liked and ask them if they would come and work for her directly. They were happy to oblige as they really liked her. Having more flexibility meant that they could arrange their hours to suit their own lives as well as meet the elderly lady’s needs. In the evenings, a carer was able to stay in the house while she slept in case anything happened in the night.
Everybody was happy and got something from the arrangement.
That was until one day the Police arrived at the door and told the old lady that she was breaking the law. They explained that she was in serious trouble for not paying the national minimum wage or tax on her employees' wages. The elderly lady did not know any of this. Nor did she know that employers, no matter how few employees they have, are required to auto enrol staff into a pension, or to have employees' liability insurance, health and safety procedures and proper contracts of employment. She simply had no idea that all these things were required as an employer. All the elderly lady wanted was to be looked after by people she knew and liked.
This is a grim modern day fairy tale.
But actually it isn’t. It’s a true story that that happened to one of our clients (apart from the police, that is).
As more and more people live into their 90s or older, who want to live at home and can afford to pay for any care they need, this is a scenario which is likely to occur more and more.
Why not decide how you wish to be looked after? Surely if you have someone coming into your home to deal with your personal care, you should be able to choose who does this (within reason of course)?
If you do wish to go down the route of employing people directly, then you must take suitable advice about the raft of rules and regulations that you must follow. There are agencies available who can provide you with carers and deal with all matters as part of the fee that you pay them. However, there is a risk that they cannot give you the carers that you like or at the times that you need them.
This scenario does affect more than just the person wanting the care, of course. There must be quite a few people who do not realise they are breaking the law. While you may not think that you are "employing" somebody to come in and clean your house for a few hours every day, if that person does not work for anybody else and you can tell them when you want them to work for you, then its highly likely that you are their "employer".
In the case of my client, I was lucky that I was able to get suitable advice from my colleagues in our Employment Law Department to make sure that we were able to put in place arrangements to deal with all the matters that arose. No longer will my client have the worry of that scary knock on her door.