Gransnet forums

Care & carers

Employing someone?

(116 Posts)
MrsJamJam Mon 26-Mar-18 18:07:04

I would value a few opinions about this issue. My mother, aged 90, is quite physically challenged with Parkinson's but of full mental capacity. She lives in a retirement flat independently, but we have used a local agency to provide her with a carer for an hour four times a week to help with shopping, cleaning, tidying, laundry and general domestics. She doesn't yet need personal care. She has of course developed a close and chatty relationship with the regular carers and they have been telling her how hard life is managing on minimum wage.

Of course, the hourly rate she pays the agency is about double this, but I feel it is important that the agency provides us all with peace of mind. Mother now wants to stop using the agency and just pay the girls cash directly. Would cost her less and give them more. She is very cross with me that I do not agree. I should add that she can well afford the current situation, it is not a case of limited resources.

I am very worried on several counts. The agency provides insurance cover and background checks on all staff. The agency complies with all employer obligations, I believe that just paying cash direct is regarded as the black economy and is illegal. If there is any problem I can require the agency to sort it out.

What do others feel?

Luckygirl Mon 26-Mar-18 18:11:35

I think you would be wise to continue using the agency, although I understand her frustrations. The first point I would make is that these carers should not be discussing the paucity of their wage with her.

If you employ someone directly (as my DD found out when employing a nanny) you get into all sorts of problems: tax, NI, insurance etc. And employing the carers directly means that there is no back-up if a carer is ill.

GracesGranMK2 Mon 26-Mar-18 18:35:55

We had to consider this when we were offered Direct Payment by the council. We could either use an agency or employ direct. In order to employ direct you would have to become an employer, do the PAYE and pay NI for the employed person. You (or rather your mother) may think it would be a lot cheaper but I doubt it would be a great deal. Also, when it came to one off cover from an agency for holidays etc., you may find you were paying a premium. As well as these additional costs who is going to do the paperwork involved?

I agree with LG, the greatest plus in employing an agency is that someone can cover holidays illness etc.

Have you asked for a local authority assessment for your Mum. She may have to pay the whole amount but it is always worth checking if there is any help available. I find it really worth the hassle that comes with this to know I can pick up the phone to them if something happens and mum needs additional care, assessments for capacity, etc.

Nanabilly Mon 26-Mar-18 19:01:34

Call me cynical if you like but I think it is quite wrong of the carer to have discussed wages with your mum to be honest and I would be very concerned that this is a method used to gain sympathies and tips and treats etc from an elderly lady .
I wonder if she does it to every person she goes to . I would imagine that she could end up with a nice lot of extras in her pockets at the end of every day after preying on the emotions of the people she visits.
She should be more professional and not discuss money.
I say this because my mil had "nice friendly neighbours " who popped in on an evening to see if she was ok but always had son stories about bills they could not afford etc and I'm certain mil have them cash as it disappeared quicker than it should have done. She got angry with us if we mentioned it though.
There are some very twisted people out there who would not think twice about taking things from vulnerable people .

Luckygirl Mon 26-Mar-18 19:27:06

I absolutely agree, and TBH would be reporting this to the agency.

MawBroon Mon 26-Mar-18 19:27:55

I think,you are missing the point GGMK2. OP says that her mother can afford what she pays now she can well afford the current situation. It is not a case of limited resources , so using SS carers would be of no financial advantage and those of us who have had carers supplied via SS know that the personnel can change on a daily basis and there are no advantages.
As I see it this is a problem of the ethics of supporting the black economy and now that employers of even casual or part tine staff are responsible not only for NI but also pension contributions, it is a minefield.
The carers are entirely out of order discussing their wages with a client and I might have serious doubts about their probity. Your mother and the carers need to see that this is a non- starter and if the agency were to get wind of it they might find themselves out of a job.

GracesGranMK2 Mon 26-Mar-18 19:42:13

No Maw, I realised that, thank you. What I was saying - and think I did say clearly - it that it is worth going through the LA even if you can afford to pay. I was pointing out that is it not just about it being financially advantageous but I have found being in the system is, although you seem to have a different experience, an advantage. I can only talk about my own experience as, presumably, you have too.

GracesGranMK2 Mon 26-Mar-18 19:49:25

When the carer is there at the same time as me, I have briefly acknowledge that I wish they could be paid more and have more training. It rarely goes any further but we are not to know that the 'mum' in this instance, hasn't raised the subject. I am sure talking about the carers jobs and what their routine is etc., is a starting point for conversation and could be something the mother saw just as that. It seems quite vicious to wish them out of a job and, with the distinct shortage of carers and the important job they are doing not that helpful.

It may be possible for MrsJJ to explain to her mother that the carers are probably better off than they would be by being paid directly. What I would be trying to do is stop have an upset mum not getting someone sacked.

I have certainly no wish to get into an argument on a "care and carers" thread and do not really expect another poster to tick me of for expressing my experience.

GracesGranMK2 Mon 26-Mar-18 19:51:06

have having

MawBroon Mon 26-Mar-18 20:47:08

I don’t think anybody is “wishing them out of a job” but the agency could take a dim view of losing staff because clients are undercutting their rates.
So who is being vicious”?

merlotgran Mon 26-Mar-18 20:48:35

Mrs. JJ, The clue is in your phrase, 'close and chatty relationship.' My mother would often tell me about the chats she'd had with her carers and how they tell her they weren't being paid enough and it was hard making ends meet on their wages.

TBH I think it was mainly just general chat. I warned Mum not to get too drawn in and to try and avoid the subject.

Your mother is sadly misguided if she thinks she will help their situation by employing them direct. If she cancels the agency they will just send those regular carers somewhere else and she will be left high and dry.

Try and talk her out of it. Mother's can be stubborn (and some) so stick to your guns.

MawBroon Mon 26-Mar-18 20:49:01

If I may just add, if disagreeing with your interpretation is perceived as “ticking you off” heaven help us.

MissAdventure Mon 26-Mar-18 21:16:45

I have a friend who does a bit of private work, as well as being an agency carer.
In a lot of cases, social services have stopped some of the funding for her 'people', who she has known for years, so they pay her to carry on going in to them.

cornergran Mon 26-Mar-18 21:20:38

Our friend has had the same issue with carers and recently with a cleaner. All bemoaning their low rate of pay and hinting they were prepared to work privately. Our friend just changed the subject but it worried her. I suspect sometimes it’s just general chit chat but often an attempt to encourage the client to pay them directly. A worrying trend.

MissAdventure Mon 26-Mar-18 21:24:02

My friend does a lot of the cleaning and stripping the beds once a week for her people. It used to all come in with their care package, but their hours were reduced and they decided they still didn't feel up to these jobs themselves.

GillT57 Tue 27-Mar-18 00:11:08

This is potential legal minefield. Aside from the unfairness of paying staff direct after their employer has spend considerable amounts on DBS checks, references, training etc, your Mother would be employing uninsured staff. Many people do not realize their true wage cost to their employer, 5.6 weeks paid holiday, sick pay, maternity pay etc. Suddenly an extra couple of pounds an hour is not the increase it seems to be when you weigh up the other things an employer pays for. Also, if the carers being paid tax credits or other means tested benefits, there is potential for either loss of benefits of overpayment due to fraudulent claim. There is not one good reason for this possible change to direct cash payments, from either the carers' point or your Mother 's.

GracesGranMK2 Tue 27-Mar-18 00:16:33

"If I may just add, if disagreeing with your interpretation is perceived as “ticking you off” heaven help us."

But why did you need to contradict someone else's experience? It is an odd thing to do on this sort of thread. Hardly the spirit of it, I would have thought and not that helpful to the OP. Why not just put you own experience - that's all it needs. All of us who have been through this sort of thing will have a slightly different one, surely. I am sure yours differs to mine but they might both be helpful.

GracesGranMK2 Tue 27-Mar-18 00:20:07

Mother's can be stubborn (and some)

Oh merlot it's so good when some says that smile I do hope it cheers MrsJJ to feel others understand too. Mother's are definitely not always easy.

GracesGranMK2 Tue 27-Mar-18 00:22:27

some someone

MawBroon Tue 27-Mar-18 08:01:49

I didn’t contradict your experiece GG. I said quite clearly I thought OP’s point was not to do with funding.
Can we leave it there?

GracesGranMK2 Tue 27-Mar-18 08:27:37

I had made my point Maw; this is not the place to spark controversy.

I was, as I have said, aware that the OP had the money to pay but thought the support she might get worth having.

MrsJamJam Tue 27-Mar-18 08:34:57

Thank you all so much for the input. It is good to hear of others experience as the lot of the daughter is sometimes lonely, isn't it?! SS were a non starter here, .She did apply for a needs assessment and they came, asked about her income and savings, told her she was not eligible for support (which we already knew!) and suggested she asked Age UK. I hadn't thought of the possibility of getting anyone in difficulty with the Benefits Agency, another potential minefield.

I don't entirely blame the carer. My mother has always been the kind of person who seems to get the most intimate details of anyone's life . She says she is interested, someone else might say nosey! But now she can't get out and about or see people often she is always desperate for conversation. Having wrinkled out all their worries, she then sees her role as providing a solution. She has always been like that and I doubt I will change her now. I just have to continue to play the bad cop to her good cop!

wildswan16 Tue 27-Mar-18 09:23:35

I presume you would be the one who had to "sort out" any problems if she went ahead with the plan. In your place I think I would get all the necessary leaflets re NI, insurance, tax show her. Point out that she might break the law if she didn't do everything she is supposed to when employing someone. Remind her that she will have to advertise and interview for another carer should one leave (and her current provider is unlikely to want to help!). And gently suggest that you don't have the time to do all that for her.

If the system is working well at present and there are no money worries, then I would feel just the same as you.

Granny23 Tue 27-Mar-18 09:46:54

Is there anything to stop Mum giving presents (cash or otherwise) to her very helpful Carers? I know that the likes of hairdressers, waiters, etc. have to account for tips on tax returns and that health Care professionals are not allowed to accept cash tips from patients but surely a 'present' to someone who has become a friend as well as a carer would be OK? With the proviso that there must be no pressure from the Carer.

radicalnan Tue 27-Mar-18 09:59:28

The carers are at fault to be discussing their own worries with a client. Where are their boundries?