Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 03 Energetic 1

Human Resources Questions for Dentists: Hiring for 'energy,' intricacies of PTO

March 13, 2017
Handling staff issues can be tricky for dentists/bosses, who don't want to do anything illegal when it comes to handling staff members. The experts at Bent Erickson & Associates can help.

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: I would like to include “high energy” as a requirement on my job descriptions. Is that acceptable?

ANSWER: While this sounds innocuous, don’t do it. Keep job descriptions to specific, objective tasks and responsibilities. Language like this can imply that you prefer younger people, or may inadvertently look as though you’re discriminating against people with disabilities. It’s best to avoid generalizations that can be misinterpreted and result in liability.

QUESTION: If I close my practice for one week, can the employees without vacation time apply for unemployment?

ANSWER: Although it is surprising to many, employees can file for unemployment anytime they’re unable to perform work and are not receiving payment. If they meet the unemployment department’s eligibility criteria and have completed the waiting period, they will likely be awarded unemployment.

QUESTION: Can I mandate that employees take their vacation and/or PTO when the practice is closed?

ANSWER: Vacation and/or PTO are discretionary benefits, which provide employers a lot of flexibility when writing their policies. It is currently not illegal in any state for employers to establish a policy requiring the use of vacation and/or PTO when the practice is closed. In order to do so, however, it is best to have these criteria outlined in the vacation/PTO policy.

Handling CE pay, and pay on weekend holidays
Flu shots, credit checks, and overtime pay
Employee refuses to sign; filing for unemployment

For the most current practice management headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

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