To help dentists make their employees more aware of what is expected of them and prevent misunderstandings about policies, the Practice Support Center has updated its Sample Employee Manual for 2013.
Available for download on cda.org/compass, the manual is exclusively for use by dental practices. The manual covers everything from confidentiality to performance evaluations to exposure control. Developed by The Dentists Insurance Company, the manual gives dentists examples of written policies that they can use to document compliance with employment laws and changes, something Jonathan Werner, senior counsel with Jackson DeMarco Tidus Peckenpaugh law firm, says is very important for practices.
"A well-drafted, up-to-date, legally compliant employee handbook is essential for every employer to have. Effective employee handbooks set the tone for a business,” Werner said. “They explain in clear and concise language the most important workplace rules of an employer, outline benefits to which employees may be entitled and provide written notice to employees of various laws required by applicable state, federal and local law.”
The updated version of the Sample Employee Manual has been expanded in several categories, including:
- drug policy testing;
- cell phone policy;
- computer usage/social media policy;
- personal appearance policy;
- pregnancy leave policy;
- attendance policy;
- communication from the Dental Board of California; and
- nonfraternization/office dating policies.
“By putting all of this information in one place, a good employee handbook also serves as an employer's 'playbook' to help guide its actions when confronted by the various issues (and problems) that arise in the modern workplace,” Werner said.
The manual is fully customizable, giving dentists the opportunity to print it out and enter data related specifically to their practice. After the manual has been altered and printed, it is recommended dentists review the printed copy thoroughly.
Although attorneys have reviewed the content of the manual to ensure compliance, due to the ever-changing nature of employment law, it is recommended dentists have their own attorney who specializes in the employment laws and regulations of their city, county and state review it before distribution to their employees. Once approved, regularly review employment practices and policies with an attorney to ensure they are in compliance with the law. While an employee manual is designed to protect dentists from potential problems in the workplace, it is not a guarantee of prevention of future lawsuits that may arise out of employment practices.