So it’s been a while since I had a rant here on the blog – but this post is definitely going to be one!
But hear me out, as it may be a very valid rant for those of you who look after your own care budgets and use payroll companies to help with pay calculations, payslips, and tax and national insurance liabilities.
You start out purely as a parent/carer of a disabled child/person and over time somehow you end up as a ‘multi-conglomerate’ employer of care workers with all the extra responsibilities that the role entails. For some people, that may not be such a big deal, as they may very well have done that role before. For others, like myself, (who have never employed anyone before) it can be a hugely daunting task.
Way back when the direct payments first came into existence, you were handed the forms to fill out for the yearly subscription of the payroll company; told to fill out a quarterly return (to show how much money you spent on care and to whom) and were then left to get on with it. Having been given zero training and having had virtually no input or advice throughout the years it has been somewhat of a ‘suck-it-and-see’ type of process.
Some of the more casual care workers we have used for Heni’s care have been on a ‘self employed’ basis but for the more permanent/regular care workers through the years, we have used a payroll agent to act on our behalf. When you subscribe they have some pretty neat promises on their website. They state:
“It’s our job to relieve you of the worries that come with being an employer, so you can concentrate on achieving the quality of life you are hoping for.”
“We are hassle free… All you have to do is pay your PA or carer on the basis of our payslips and pay HMRC on the basis of our quarterly summary.”
And all this for the cost of a yearly subscription of about £300.
They supply payslips, calculate all the figures and all you have to do is tell them how many hours your care worker worked. You tend to put your trust in them and rely on those who you think know better.
Just before Christmas one of our care workers decided she no longer wanted to do care work. So I emailed the payroll company, asked them to do all the final calculations, organise a P45 form (which in England signifies the end of employment) and do all the tax and NI liability. End of story. Or so I thought!
Months down the line I get an email from the payroll company stating that the former employee had inquired about holiday pay and was due a considerable amount of hours and that I needed to pay it! When I questioned this they told me that I should have instructed them to calculate it.
Surely, with my subscription fees in mind, I had already paid THEM to calculate and inform ME of what I should be paying the carer! They had done it before so why not now? Surely, I pay what they tell me on the payslip. Surely, they should have calculated any entitlements for holiday PRIOR to a P45 ever being drawn up and being sent out?
If you use such software like Sage (or the like) I am told that this should automatically “flag up” and alert you to the fact that a payment is due and that a P45 cannot be issued without doing this. If on the other hand it’s calculated by ‘human’ then it is the agency’s ‘human error’ and they should have been aware of it.
After saying that “it’s between me and the FORMER employee”, sadly I have to report that they have gone silent on me and refuse to accept liability.
Now, I’m aware that the former employee still doesn’t have the holiday money that she is rightly due but because of the agency’s behaviour towards both of us. She is now coming after me for it.
I would like to know how many of you out there think the agency should be the one who in an instance like this should accept liability, atone for their mistake and cough up?
Isn’t that what their liability insurance is for – for when they make a mistake?
How can a company like this, who purport to “relieve you of the worries that come with being an employer” (so that I can concentrate on achieving the quality of life I am looking for) do this sort of thing? It’s even worse that they do it after I am no longer an employer!!
I would like to ensure that companies like this can’t get away with this sort of behaviour. It looks like they are taking advantage of the fact that there are parent/carers out there who simply don’t have the time, energy, headspace or desire to deal with this sort of ineptitude and lack of service to spend the time fighting back – whilst the agency gets away with it.
If there is one learning point from this for me it is: ‘don’t trust that someone who is supposed to know how to do stuff, actually does’. If you are out there and listening ‘Mr Agency’ – everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Admit yours, man up, and take it on the chin.
In the meantime, all I can say more to the parents/carers/employers out there is: ‘BUYER BEWARE’!
I would love to hear what sort of experiences you have had with Payroll companies and Direct payments. Come visit me at Henibean on Facebook and leave your comments.
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