Aberdeenshire UNISON

Personal assistants and direct payments research launched

Landmark research by UNISON Social Work Issues Group and the Scottish Personal Assistants Employers Network (SPAEN) into the employment of Personal Assistants (PAs) through Direct Payments has been launched in June 2009 through a series of seminars across Scotland.

From this research a booklet, "Your Rights at Work" has been produced by UNISON and SPAEN, for PAs and their employers. These can be downloaded by clicking on the links on the right.

The Aberdeen Seminar was held from 10.30 - 1pm on Friday 12 June at The Aberdeen Foyer, Marywell Centre, Marywell Street. It was well attended, by employers, their organisations, PAs, Local Authority staff and voluntary organisations. The input was well received and there were lively question and answer sessions throughout the event.

The seminar was chaired by Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair and member of UNISON's Social Work Issues Group and included a presentation on the research by Peter Brawley SPAEN. UNISON Legal Officer Suzanne Craig covered the legal responsibilities of employers and the legal rights of personal assistants and Violet Keenan from SPAEN talked about how employers can access advice and the role of SPAEN.

An interim report from the research resulted in a series of recommendations to provide better support and training for PAs, guidance on good employment practices and funding for training.

“Now that the final report has been published, UNISON and SPAEN want to ensure that workers and employers are fully briefed about the issues across Scotland”, said Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Social Work Issues Group.

So a series of seminars were set up aimed at UNISON members who work in the direct payments field (such as social workers and Direct Payments Co-ordinators), people who receive direct payments and are either employers of personal assistants or are thinking of employing personal assistants, and personal assistants themselves.