Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Defense Wins Games, Offense Sells Tickets! Employee Management

shocked-1  A small business is defined as a company that does less than $50M per year. A very large part of the dental industry fits into that category and employee management is a necessary expense, or could it be a positive investment?

When discussing procedure and policy with my clients I like to categorize topics as defensive or offensive. Employees fit into both so it is imperative that your defensive strategy incorporates an updated employee manual and you fully understand your legal responsibilities as an employer, Defense Wins Games. We live in a very litigious society and workers rights take precedence in a court of law.

The following story is true, unfortunately it is a common scenario: Dr. Charlie has a 4 chair practice located in the center of town. One afternoon while the hygienist was working on a patient he went next door to pick up lunch and bring it back to the office. When he returned his office manager said that after the patient left the hygienist walked up front said she is quitting and walked out. Dr. Charlie panicked a little and then proceeded to handle the rest of the day on his own. That evening he called the hygienist and left a message that was not returned. The next couple of days he used a temp agency to manage the schedule at the end of the week hired a new hygienist. At the end of the following week the original hygienist called and apologized and asked to return. Dr. Charlie explained that she didn’t return his calls so he hired a new hygienist.

Everything was fine for 2 weeks until Dr. Charlie got a registered letter in the mail from a law firm accusing him of “wrongful termination” and was looking for $175,000.00 in compensation. How could that be possible when the employee walked out? Well, the employee was well within her rights plus, she was 3 months pregnant. Now what?

Dr. Charlie made one big mistake, he didn’t document the incident. What he should have done was to send the Hygienist a registered letter with a return receipt stating that she is be terminated and the reason. It’s a real good idea to consult you legal advisors or the local State Dental Society for the proper wording for individual situations. However, the official and documented letter needs to be sent.

When Dr. Charlie asked me for advise I referred him to an attorney that specialized in employment law. The case was settled for $95,000.00 plus legal fees. Dr. Charlie paid out $125,000.00 in settlement, court and legal fees because he went next door to pick up lunch. This is a true story.

Employee management defense is proper documentation and an understanding of employment law. Federal, state and local regulation directly effect your rights as an employer. It is imperative that you have an up-dated employee manual, employee files with a filled out and signed employment application. Every incident requiring a private “sit down” requires a written document that the employee signs as an acknowledgement. You need to have all employment posters required and you absolutely need your O.S.H.A. annual updates current and signed off on.

Employee management is more than incentives and praise. It is a relationship that is heavily regulated at every level. Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.

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January 26, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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