Human Resources Questions for Dentists: Employee refuses to sign; filing for unemployment

Part of owning a dental practice is handling employee issues. The experts from Bent Erickson & Associates are here to help dentists avoid any HR issues with their staff members.

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Handling a small business and issues that come up with staff members 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 in trouble due to mishandling staff issues.

QUESTION: What should I do when one of my employees refuses to sign a disciplinary action form?

ANSWER: If a witness was present during the counseling meeting, simply note the employee’s refusal to sign and have the witness sign. If a witness wasn’t present, bring in a witness to attest that the employee was provided a counseling memo, note the employee’s refusal to sign, and then have the witness sign. You should also state that a refusal to sign doesn’t make the counseling form any less relevant; improvement must still occur. Of course, harsher consequences can occur, such as suspension pending signature, or termination should you want to be more aggressive in managing the situation.

QUESTION: Can an employee who has worked for the practice for only three days file for unemployment insurance?

ANSWER: Yes. There is no on-the-job service requirement for an ex-employee to have the right to file for unemployment insurance. Anytime an employee is unemployed, he or she can file. When the person applies, he or she will be asked to list previous employers that may have contributed to an unemployment account on his or her behalf through taxation. Previous employers will be notified of this filing if their account will be used when and if unemployment insurance is awarded.

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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

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