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Human Resource questions for dentists: Consent for website photos; layoffs or job makeovers?

March 27, 2015
Dentists have many HR questions from running their practices. This week's questions for the experts involve getting permission to run photos on the practice website, and rearranging job responsibilities to avoid layoffs.

QUESTION: Our company website is a great marketing tool for us. As such, we like to post pictures of our staff. These can be pictures at events we’ve hosted, or they can be just regular “get to know our staff” pictures. Are we required to get staff consent before posting these?

ANSWER: It is recommended that you do get their written consent. Obtaining this will protect you against common law claims of invasion of privacy, which can include the use of someone’s image without his or her consent. This written agreement should also include the ability to continue to use their images after termination of employment occurs. The agreement does not need to be complex or done with too much legalese. Ask an attorney in your area to draft one that is easy to understand and it can be issued at the time of hire.

QUESTION: Conditions being what they are with the economy, we need to look at making some staff changes. We have good staff, none that we want to lose. Instead of terminating a person or persons, can we redefine job duties and reduce pay instead?

ANSWER: As long as the changes you make are prospective (i.e., a future date) there is nothing preventing you from taking these actions for the good of the business. Decide what changes you need to make and how it is going to happen, and then offer/inform the individual(s) of the new position going forward. In communicating the changes, be sure the affected people understand that these changes are your way of preventing a layoff.

It should be noted that people may not like what you’ve proposed and one or more may reject the offer. This would effectively mean they resign from your business. While most people would choose a job over unemployment, don’t be surprised if this occurs.

Can dentist fire employee who was arrested? Are cost of living raises required?
Compliance with employee privacy; Regulations when installing cameras
Basing hires on volunteer efforts; Is comp time legal?

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