Employee Handbook

Flourishing in Changing Times: Up-to-date employee manual a must for your dental practice

March 28, 2014
Make sure your dental office has a current employee manual, and that team members know about it

As a dental business coach, one of my jobs is to make sure our doctors are conforming to all federal and state laws. Most states require a dental business to have an employee manual that is updated for your state on a regular basis. It is a big risk not to have one.

I’m amazed at the lack of awareness. My observation is that about 50% of dentists are not complying with the law. Where is your updated employee manual?

Today’s employees are sophisticated. People know how to find information, which could ultimately result in costly labor disputes. Today’s social media and the Internet allow important information to be shared.

An employee manual spells out the working conditions, specifics about uniforms, pay, breaks, vacations, overtime, and all other important items for a team. Information is shared, posted, and in the open.

Now, I need for you to feel some pain to motivate you to take immediate action. Some states are more litigious than others, but all need to conform. In this case I cite here, employee breaks were being disputed. In this particular state, each employee is entitled to a morning and afternoon 10-minute break in the morning and afternoon.

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Because the dentist’s employee manual did not specify how those breaks were to be taken, the receptionist contacted the labor board to complain that she had not been given her breaks. The labor board determined the penalty was an hour and a half of pay for each break missed. She had been employed at the office for five years, so the penalty and fine for this dental office was in the thousands. The dentist would have been foolish to let this person go during the proceedings.

Each state is different. What is the break designation for your state, and do your employees know what it is? Some dentists say, “We work seven hours straight through, and we all agreed to this.” Some dentists think there is no overtime if team members work less than 40 hours a week. You are teetering on disaster when you do not know the answer for your state, and you’re “assuming” all is good with your team.

Another doctor had an employee manual, but had not updated it. The state had changed the description of people eligible for “salary,” and the doctor was not aware of the change. It cost him worry and time, and he took a fresh look at his team.

Your attorney can produce an employee manual for your state and area, plus provide you with updates. Another good source is CEDR Solutions (Center for Employment Dispute Resolutions) located in Tucson, AZ. Contact them at 866-414-6056.

Dr. Bill Blatchford, America’s premier dental business coach, is CEO of Blatchford Solutions. He coaches dentists of all ages to be more profitable and efficient while taking more time away to rejuvenate. His book, “No Nonsense Transitions," written with his daughter, Christina Blatchford, DDS, is now available at [email protected]. Dr. Blatchford can be reached at 888-977-4600 and [email protected].