188173690 | Accident © Frank Harms | Dreamstime.com

HR questions for dentists: You break it, you buy it?

April 17, 2024
Being an employer brings challenges of many types, including HR issues. Here's how to handle issues related to broken equipment.
Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, Human Resources Experts

HR experts Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, of Bent Ericksen & Associates, address some of the latest concerns they've received from dentists.

QUESTION: We had an expensive piece of equipment break in the office. The employee who broke it has been seen mishandling dental equipment before, which I have discussed with him in previous meetings. I told him he had to be careful with the equipment, but it seems like he’s not following my instruction. I would like know how to handle this situation with the employee.

ANSWER: If you have proof that the equipment was broken by this individual, you may address this through employee counseling and/or termination. In doing so, you will need to confront the employee about the issue, explain how it will impact the business to fix the problem (i.e., the cost of replacing this equipment), and that you believe this to be negligence on their part. Since you've talked to this person previously, it may be best to write them up about the issue. This could also result in a suspension from work as "punishment," or even be grounds for immediate termination if that's the preferred direction. 

You don’t mention whether you’d like to consider recouping the cost of this equipment from the employee, either as a cash payment or a payroll deduction. Your ability to do this will depend on the state that you’re in. Many states have restrictions on charging employees for these mistakes, particularly through payroll deductions; therefore, this could be illegal. Before taking this approach, be sure you check your state and local laws in order to comply.

If you have HR questions you would like addressed, reach out to Bent Ericksen & Associates.

This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that willelevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.