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RM Matters

This article series is shared online and in select dental publications. Each article explores a single developing topic in risk management.

Featured Articles

Political Discussions: Create Workplace Boundaries To Reduce Tension

The discussions and debates that seem inescapable during and after election season can impede productivity and create potential risks, but practice owners can take the lead by asking patients and staff to leave political discussions at the door. Establish boundaries and de-escalate tension to minimize conflicts.

Business controls reduce employee theft

Theft within dental practices is surprisingly common and it’s on the rise. Review your bookkeeping structure and implement accounting measures to greatly reduce the probability of falling victim to employee embezzlement, while communicating to employees that you are paying close attention.

COVID-19 and Informed Consent: What You Need To Know

COVID-19 has no doubt impacted every aspect of our lives. After months of practice interruption, many dental practices have resumed routine care, and dentists are taking extraordinary steps to protect the safety of their patients and staff. While dental practices are learning more every day about how to best provide care during the pandemic, there are still many unanswered questions that create uncertainty, stress and unease.

The Dentists Insurance Company’s Risk Management Advice Line is continuing to receive calls from practice owners about how to navigate issues related to COVID-19. These inquiries range from how to obtain enough PPE to how to address staff who are fearful of returning to work. Many calls concern informed consent and communicating any risks of contracting the virus in a dental setting.

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Political Discussions: Create Workplace Boundaries To Reduce Tension

The discussions and debates that seem inescapable during and after election season can impede productivity and create potential risks, but practice owners can take the lead by asking patients and staff to leave political discussions at the door. Establish boundaries and de-escalate tension to minimize conflicts.

Business controls reduce employee theft

Theft within dental practices is surprisingly common and it’s on the rise. Review your bookkeeping structure and implement accounting measures to greatly reduce the probability of falling victim to employee embezzlement, while communicating to employees that you are paying close attention.

Returning to Work: A Compassionate Approach To Staff Well-Being

The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled feelings of stress, anxiety and fear in many dental professionals. Learn how to address staff who may be returning to work with significant anxiety and unease over their own health and safety, financial worries or child care in the current environment.

Speak Up! Open Communication Strengthens Employer-Employee Bonds

The art of communication is the language of leadership. In the dental office, open communication between practice owners and staff ensures an efficient workplace, reduces employee turnover, improve job satisfaction and helps mitigate potential employment-related claims.

Working From Home? Considerations for Telecommuting

More and more dental employees are working from home, particularly those who perform scheduling, billing and other administrative. What are employers’ responsibilities when it comes to managing risks such as employee injuries and HIPAA considerations?

Reduce Risk, Increase Productivity With Cellphone Policies

The ubiquity of cellphone use puts employers in a difficult spot. See how phone use can bring up questions of productivity, professionalism and privacy in a dental office setting, and how to develop and enforce appropriate policies.

Workers’ Compensation: Your Obligations as an Employer

As employers, dentists must follow workers’ compensation laws and state-specific obligations like compliance postings and injury-reporting requirements. Get answers to common questions about workplace injuries and illnesses, leaves of absence, accommodations and termination.

Keep Holidays Happy with Guidelines for Office Parties

Participation, employee dynamics and labor laws all come into play when planning an office party. It’s important that practice owners establish clear guidelines when organizing any office event.

Safe and Sober: Managing Employees Who Are Under the Influence

From a detailed drug-free workplace policy to dealing with reasonable suspicion of intoxication, there are essential steps that can be taken to protect a safe and productive practice.

Hiring Done Right: License Verification and Background Checks

For practice owners, hiring competent, qualified and properly licensed staff can help lower the risk of negligent hiring and employment-related claims.

If we were to implement an alternative work week, how would we go about this and what forms do I need?

With an alternative work week schedule, there are guidelines that must be followed. In California, these include, but are not limited to, identifying employees affected by the schedule, an office vote, a written work week schedule and submitting the required documents to the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Statistics and Research within 30 days of the election. For California members, the California Dental Association has a valuable resource with additional information.

Is a hygienist an independent contractor or an employee?

Because different laws may be involved in a particular situation such as a termination of employment, it is possible that the same individual may be considered an employee for purposes of one law and an independent contractor under another law. Because the potential liabilities and penalties are significant if an individual is treated as an independent contractor and later found to be an employee, each working relationship should be thoroughly researched and analyzed before it is established. Based off the criteria of an independent contractor in California, hygienists would not meet that criteria, therefore they need to be classified as nonexempt employees. This is the best approach in light of legal implications around misclassifications. Please reference state-specific guidelines for independent contractor criteria.

Can I require employees to bring a doctor’s note if they miss work due to an injury or illness?

Yes. After a certain number of days off for an illness or injury, for example, three days (minimum required amount to be given under California’s Paid Sick Leave law), employees can be required to provide a note. Please reference state-specific guidelines for sick leave. Furthermore, reference your local ordinance as the city may also have their own paid sick leave laws that you must adhere.

However, you must make certain that every employee is required to adhere to this policy and that the policy is in writing. The required doctor’s note should not seek a diagnosis/medical condition; rather, the note should include only that (the name of employee) was seen on (date) at (time of appointment) and further may stipulate any period of partial or total incapacity to perform a job and if the employee is healthy enough to return to work.

What is the policy in giving employees their final paychecks when they resign or get terminated from the job?

In California, employees must get a final paycheck immediately when their employment is terminated by the employer. If an employee voluntarily resigns and provides at least 72 hours of notice, the final paycheck must be provided at the end of employment. If an employee voluntarily resigns with less than 72 hours notice, the employer must provide the final paycheck within 72 hours of the employee quitting (Cal Labor Code Section 202).

Please reference state-specific guidelines for final pay.

My employee just notified me that she is pregnant. How much time do I allow her to be off work and still have to hold her position?

In California, employers with five or more employees are required by law to provide Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) to employees. TDIC recommends that all employers provide this leave regardless of the number of employees in their practice. PDL covers employees for up to four months of leave, taken either before or after birth, for disability due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition (sickness, bed rest, etc.) as determined by their health care provider. Please reference state-specific guidelines for pregnancy.

Dentists and the Virtual Dental Home: What You Should Know

The Virtual Dental Home model demands the use of specific protocols and is subject to the same regulations as traditional practice models.

When Casual Behavior Crosses the Professional Line

A relaxed, family-like environment is a good thing, but it is important to remember that dentists set the standard for appropriate conduct.


Current issue
Liability Lifeline
2020 Volume 2, Wildfire Issue

Prepare your practice for wildfire season with guidance from TDIC’s Risk Management experts. Plan ahead with a helpful checklist and learn how to take inventory to safeguard your practice, navigate disrupted practice operations and take emergency measures to protect property.

 

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