Q: I have just purchased a practice. The former owner informed the staff that the practice had been sold and that their employment with the practice would be discontinued. I would like to hire some of them. However, during the interview, they told me that they wanted to have the same number of weeks of vacation they had earned with the prior doctor. New staff will be entitled to a one-week vacation after one year of employment, and these “old” new employees are asking for more than that. Will I be discriminating if I give some new employees better benefits than others receive?
A: It is in your best interest to keep good staff members who are familiar with the practice and know the patients. It makes sense that these people want to retain the same vacation benefits they had with the former owner. Typically all employees in the same category (full time, part time, etc.) must receive the same benefits. But, based on the fact that these former employees can provide a significant benefit to a new owner, you can “grandfather” the same vacation benefits that they received with the prior owner. The key is to document in each person’s personnel file the “grandfather” action you have taken along with the reason for this action. If you do this, you can satisfy their vacation requirements and hire these important people. Be sure also to take into consideration other types of requirements they may have such as salary, work hours, other types of benefits, incentive or bonus pay, etc., that they were used to getting. Consider the cost of the total package carefully before making a hiring decision.
The opinions expressed above are based on the writer’s comprehensive background as a human resources professional and the policies in our Bent Ericksen & Associates products having been reviewed by legal counsel. The writer is not an attorney, and the advice provided in this message should not be construed as a legal opinion. If you have legal questions after considering the advice and reading any materials referenced, it is recommended that you consult with your attorney.
Tim Twigg is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates, and Rebecca Crane is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit www.bentericksen.com.