Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 09 Appointments 1

Human Resources Questions for Dentists: Can boss limit staff's personal appointments to day off?

Sept. 11, 2017
This dentist is tired of the employees making appointments during the workweek when they have Fridays off. What can be done about it?
Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, Human Resources Experts

Handling a small business and issues that come along with overseeing a staff can be daunting for some dentists. After all, they went to dental school, not business school. That's why the experts from Bent Erickson & Associates are here to help. Because no dentist wants to get into trouble for mishandling staff issues.

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

QUESTION: Our practice is open Monday through Thursday, therefore, all employees have Friday off, during which they can schedule personal appointments and activities. Yet, they still request time off during the workweek to handle appointments such as haircuts, veterinary visits, doctor’s appointments, and so on. CAN I MANDATE THAT ALL APPOINTMENTS MUST BE HANDLED ON FRIDAY and prohibit time off during the week for such things?

ANSWER: Yes, you can require employees to work scheduled work hours and avoid conflicts with personal appointments. While there is no law that prevent this, there are laws that protect certain absences, even if they conflict with regular work hours.

For example, time off for medical issues or disabilities must be accommodated if the issue the employee is facing is covered by leave of absence laws or disability laws, if applicable. Also, you don’t mention where you are located, but if you are in a state or city that provides paid sick leave under any of the plethora of new laws on this, then enforcing a rule that employees can only use that time on non-workdays would not be compliant.

Therefore, while you can implement this rule, be sure to remember that you need to make exceptions based on the facts of each situation and the reason for the time off. Certainly, haircuts and vet visits as you describe will not be covered at all, but doctor’s appointments could be.

QUESTION: I ask my employees to depart the practice at night with supplies. The next day they drive to our other practice with those supplies. Do I have to pay them for this travel time?

ANSWER: In general, commuting home-to-work and vice versa is not compensable. However, if your employees are assigned to one office, but periodically spend time traveling to another office from home for a one-day assignment, then the travel time incurred from their home to the other office is work time. Also, you can deduct the time it ordinarily takes them to commute to work.

For example, if it an employee typically takes 15 minutes to get to work, and you ask that employee to travel to a different office that takes 45 minutes, then 30 minutes of this travel will be compensable.

Travel between worksites during the day is always compensable. For example, if an employee reports to work at his or her normal office, and after lunch, he or she is assigned to the other office for the remainder of the day, that travel time to get to the other office is compensable at all times.

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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