Employing a carer or other domestic help in your home

This guide tells you what you need to do when you engage someone to provide care in your home.

On this page:

If you start to engage a personal assistant or carer in your home

If you engage someone to care for you in your home you could be treated as their employer. This could be a carer, personal assistant or support worker.

Whether or not you become the employer depends upon your personal assistant/carer's employment status.

If you decide to engage a personal assistant/carer through an agency then generally the agency will be the employer. However, some agencies only act to find you a personal assistant/carer. If this is the case, after the agency has matched you with a personal assistant/carer, you will still need to decide how you will engage them and the advice below still applies.

If you are unsure whether the person you engage is your employee you can use HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) online tool, the Employment Status Indicator (ESI). It will ask you a set of questions about your personal assistant's terms and conditions and in most cases it will give you an indication as to whether they are employed or self-employed. You can rely on the ESI tool answer as evidence of your personal assistant's correct status as long as you have answered the questions accurately based on his or her actual terms and conditions. You should also print or save a copy of the ESI questions and result screen. The link below will take you to the relevant part of our website.

Employment Status Indicator


Becoming an employer

If you are an employer you may have to register with HMRC, and you may be required to deduct Income Tax, National Insurance contributions (NICs) and possibly student loan deductions from the money you pay to your employee. You will also be required to pay to HMRC the monies you have deducted from your employee together with any employer's NICs that may be due. If after using the ESI tool it shows that the person you engage is self-employed no further action is required on your part and responsibility for paying tax and NICs rests with the person you engage.

Further information on when and how to register as a new employer can be found in the guide 'How to register as an employer'.

How to register as an employer

Whilst HMRC expects employers to send employee payroll information (returns) electronically there are some circumstances when HMRC will permit employers to send their returns in paper form. As a new care and support employer you have the choice and you will be asked if you want to submit your returns to HMRC on paper or online. To check you are eligible to use a paper payroll and reporting system before you contact HMRC, read 'Guidance for employers exempt from filing or unable to file online'.

Guidance for employers exempt from filing or unable to file online


Your next steps after registering as a new employer

Once you've registered as a new employer with HMRC, you'll receive a letter by post headed 'New employer registration and reference numbers' containing your PAYE reference and Accounts Office reference. You should expect to receive this within 5 working days. The letter also includes a link to the 'New Employer - getting started' guide. Everything you need to get started can be accessed from that guide.

New employer - getting started

HMRC has produced a set of online seminars (webinars) both live and pre-recorded. For those who take on a personal assistant we have a webinar entitled 'Care and Support employers'. These look at issues such as payroll responsibilities, how to deal with expenses and benefits and PAYE in real time.

Employer webinars - Care and Support Employers

If you would like to talk to HMRC about becoming an employer, you can call the New Employer Helpline.

HMRC's New Employer Helpline