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Human Resources Questions for Dentists: Employee manuals, vacation vs. sick leave, and 2-week notice

April 10, 2017
Operating a dental practice comes with a variety of staff issues and challenges. These human resources experts answer dentists' questions in order to help them run their offices as smoothly as possible and avoid any major employee problems.  
Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, Human Resources Experts

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.

Can I put a statement in the employee manual that would prevent current or former employees from bad mouthing the practice on social network sites?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, probably not. A broad statement such as this will not likely pass the compliance test. It ultimately comes down to the content and context of the bad mouthing. In some cases, bad mouthing may be protected, so a broad restriction against it may not be legal.

QUESTION: I want to use an employee’s vacation bank when that employee calls in sick and doesn’t have any sick leave available. Is this acceptable?

ANSWER: Generally, yes, this is acceptable and doesn’t result in anything illegal. As discretionary benefits, employers have a lot of flexibility in providing sick leave and vacation. However, consistency is important, as are past practices. If you don’t have a policy and you’ve not handled employee time off this way previously, you should implement a new policy to support this process before you take this action, and then you must apply it consistently.

QUESTION: One of my employees gave his two-week notice. Am I required to let him work, or can I release him early?

ANSWER: You are not required to keep this employee and allow him to work after he has given notice. However, the employee may file for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are often awarded because a person was involuntarily released sooner than planned. Therefore, it is recommended that an employer pay the employee for the two weeks anyway. Also, employers need to be sure resignation documentation is in place before proceeding in this direction.

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Flu shots, credit checks, and overtime pay

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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