Human Resources questions for dentists: Shift changes; unemployment pay when office is closed

Dentists must deal with many staff issues. Sometimes the questions that come up with surprise them. The experts and Bent Erickson and Associates can address the endless situations that come up in the area of human resources.

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QUESTION: We have an employee who wants to change shifts. She would like to go back to school and needs different hours to accommodate the school schedule. Are we required to allow this change? The new proposed schedule doesn’t work for us very well. ANSWER: There is no law that requires you to accommodate schedule changes desired by employees when the reason is unrelated to certain laws that require employers to consider such requests or face possible liability for discrimination. Generally these laws are related to disabilities, religion, or pregnancy, along with a wide variety of leave of absence requirements. There is no law that protects going back to school. You can simply deny the employee’s request for a schedule change. If she refuses to accept the decision you make, it may result in her resignation if she can’t or won’t change her plans and moves forward with school anyway. QUESTION: I close my practice throughout the year to attend various continuing education events. Sometimes this results in the office being closed for two weeks at a time. Employees can either take the time off without pay or use accrued paid time off such as vacation. Recently I had an employee who did not have accrued time off to use and applied for unemployment insurance. Is this legal? ANSWER: Employees do have the right to apply for unemployment insurance benefits anytime they are off work for a certain period of time and not earning compensation. The length of time will vary from state to state. For example, California has a waiting period of two weeks, but other states are one week. If the employees meet the eligibility requirements, they will likely be awarded the benefits. PAST HUMAN RESOURCE QUESTIONS:After hours harassment, warning staff of layoffsConsent for website photos; layoffs or job makeovers?Can dentist fire employee who was arrested? Are cost of living raises required?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 bentericksen.com.
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