Tips for line managers who have employees with PAs in their team

Workplace PA graphic

Consider writing a workplace PA policy

  • Acknowledge the importance of the role. 
  • It is helpful to have a workplace PA policy. There is currently
    no national guidance around workplace PA support so you may need to develop your own policy.
  • Clarify potential grey areas around having workplace PAs (who may not be employed directly by your organisation) on the premises.

Keep your managerial focus on your employee

  • A workplace PA’s work can impact on your employee’s performance. If you have concerns you should raise these with your employee, who is responsible for their workplace PA’s work.
  • Be aware that a bright and interested workplace PA might
    step over the boundary into your employee’s role. It is your job to draw your employee’s attention to this and support them
    to maintain boundaries.
  • Going directly to the workplace PA with any concerns disempowers your employee. Talk to your employee instead.
  • In work conversations, always address your employee rather than their workplace PA. The role of a workplace PA is not the same as a regular ‘office PA’.

Workplace PA graphic

Workplace PAs can feel isolated

  • Think about ways to counter this risk by for instance offering an appropriate induction. You should discuss with your employee the best way to ensure that colleagues understand the role of the workplace PA.

If your organisation opts to employ the workplace PA directly (rather than them being employed directly by your employee), then some things will need careful consideration

  • Who will have line management responsibilities for the PA? If it is not the person they support, ensure that the PA’s line manager fully understands the nature of the role. 
  • The PA may have twin loyalties (to the person they support and the organisation). How will this be managed, for example if the organisation has a busy period? 

Offer ongoing support to your employee to be a good PA employer

  • Be aware that your employee may have training needs around supervision of their
    PA or managing difficult situations. Think about whether your organisation can
    meet these needs. 
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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