Good practice tips for workplace PAs

Workplace PA graphic
As a workplace PA, you may be employed directly by the person you support, or you may be employed by the organisation they work for. In this document ‘your manager’ refers to the person you support.

Workplace PAs often work one-to-one with their manager so expect a close working relationship. This can take time to develop

  • Make sure you develop a good understanding of your manager’s work role and how your own role fits within it.
  • Try not to make assumptions about what to do - always check.
  • Keep asking for guidance, for example when new situations arise or whenever you are unsure of or struggling with an aspect of your role.

You need to have confidence and people skills to provide the best support

  • There may be times when you need to arrange access to a venue for your manager, or take messages from colleagues. You will need to communicate clearly and confidently.

Professionalism: be aware that you are representing someone in their workplace

  • Recognise that your competence and behaviour can influence colleagues’ perceptions of the person you support.
  • Keep your personal views private unless they are invited.
  • Maintain confidentiality.

Workplace PA graphic

Respect and maintain role boundaries

  • It is not your role to do your manager’s job – try not to overstep.
  • Your role is to support your manager. Be guided by them about doing any tasks for their colleagues.

Keep alert and be prepared to be available to your manager when needed

  • Always listen and stay alert to what is going on and look for cues from your employer (for example in meetings) in case
    you are needed.
  • Be prepared for times when you will not be needed to provide support, and discuss with your manager what is acceptable for you to do at these times. For instance is it appropriate for you to read a book or look at
    your phone?
Workplace PA graphic Workplace PA graphic

About the website and leaflet

This document is based on findings of a research project which explored for the first time the role of the workplace PA for people with physical or sensory impairments. The research involved in-depth conversations with workplace PAs, people who use PAs in the workplace and their line managers, and all three groups also fed into the development of this document.

The role of a workplace PA is of course specific to the needs of the person being supported, their job and the organisation in which they work. Nevertheless, the people involved in this research project felt that the complexities involved in the workplace setting, along with the lack of understanding and awareness of the role, meant that a general resource containing advice and tips would be useful as a guide, especially for people who use PAs in the workplace, workplace PAs and line managers who have little experience of working with PAs in the workplace. 

This resource draws on the accounts of people with relevant experience, and aims to help workplace PAs, people who use PAs in the workplace and their line managers to consider a range of issues that are useful to discuss at the start and as working relationships evolve and develop.

Research team

Katie Graham (University of York)
Jenni Brooks (Sheffield Hallam University)
Jane Maddison (University of York)
Yvonne Birks (University of York)

We would like to thank everyone who took part in this project and the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research for funding the project.

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