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HR Questions for Dentists: Advertising via car stickers; Paying for meetings

Oct. 3, 2019
There are lots of moving parts when it comes to running a dental office, and dentists have many questions. These HR experts address a variety of topics to help dentists run their offices smoothly and legally.
Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, Human Resources Experts

QUESTION: I want to offer my employees the opportunity to place advertising stickers or magnets on their cars. Do I have to offer them payment for doing this? Is this considered work time? Is there a contract or form that I need for them to sign to place advertising stickers on their cars? If I must pay them, do you know what the average rate is for this type of advertising? 

ANSWER: The simple act of employees driving their cars with marketing material on the cars while they go about their normal everyday personal business does not constitute work time or require payment. However, if doing this results in engaging the public about your office, your services, and so on, then yes, it would become work time and require payment, whether or not it results in a new patient for you. For example, if the employee is at the grocery store and someone asks them about the advertisements on their car and, therefore, the two of them speak about your practice for 10 minutes, this is a work activity and needs to be paid. 

It’s a good idea to outline how this works and have your participating employees sign something. They should know what you expect from them while they’re doing this for you and how to record any applicable work time, as well as how much they will be paid.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the going rate for compensation of this type of activity. Unless any of the participating employees have the job description of "marketing," then this task could be classified under a "different capacity." As such, you can pay any rate you want for this time as long as it is minimum wage or higher.

QUESTION: I understand that full-time hourly and salaried employees must be compensated for their time for meetings held outside of their normal work hours. What about hygienists? Our hygienists work one or two days a week or a month and are paid per diem. In order for everyone to attend a meeting, it has to be when someone doesn't work. Are we required to pay all of the hygienists per hour based on their per diem rate? We provide lunch, but I know that's not considered pay.

ANSWER: All employees, regardless of their position, full- or part-time status, or how they’re compensated (hourly or per diem), must be paid for their time worked. This includes meetings, training, and other work-related activities and events. Hygienists cannot be excluded from this requirement. 

If you are in a state that requires “reporting time pay,” you must pay employees for the time they work and/or reporting time pay, whichever is greater. Reporting time pay rules make it critical to clearly state how long a meeting will last at the time it is scheduled. This is because employees are generally entitled to at least half of the hours for the meeting if the meeting lasts less than half of the scheduled time.

For example, if the meeting is scheduled for two hours but lasts three hours, employees receive all three hours paid. If the meeting is scheduled for four hours but lasts one hour, employees must be paid for at least two hours due to reporting time pay rules. 

As for the rate of pay, if it is established in advance and in writing, you can establish a meeting rate for any and all employees. This rate must equal or exceed minimum wage in your area. Therefore, you could arrange meeting pay for your hygienists to be $20 per hour for example. 

And, you're absolutely right that food has no bearing on the rules for compensation.


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Human Resources Questions for Dentists is provided by Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Tim Twigg is president and Rebecca Boartfield is a human resources 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 bentericksen.com