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Non-Exempt Dental Assistant Offer Letter

June 27, 2022 1328


CDA recommends the use of an offer letter in conjunction with a verbal offer of employment.

While not a legal requirement, an offer letter documents the offer to the candidate with a clear, foundational understanding of the terms and conditions of employment relevant to whom they will report to, job title, starting date and time, rate of pay, at-will employment and classification. It is not to be used or construed as a contract of employment.

In a conditional offer of employment letter, the candidate is advised that the offer is conditional on other processes, such as, passing reference or background checks (if applicable). A written conditional offer of employment must be provided if the practice intends to seek criminal or background check information.

Employers should request the candidate sign and return the letter which confirms the candidate accepts the terms and conditions of the position.

Employers have pay options when hiring an untrained employee with no prior dental experience.

Training and Non-productive Work Time

The rate of pay for non-exempt (hourly) employees for the time spent training or in courses (non-productive work time) can be paid at their hourly rate or reduced rate no lower than current state or local minimum wage. This type of policy should apply to all hourly employees of the practice. Employers should notify all affected employees in writing (at least 15 days in advance) and establish a practice written policy should they choose to establish a second reduced wage for non-productive time and any associated travel time.

When employers require employees to attend training, or other required non-productive events after work hours or on a non-scheduled day, this may result in overtime of over eight hours a day, or over 40 hours in a workweek. The overtime calculation of two or more rates of pay must include a "weighted average" of all rates of pay resulting in the employees' "Regular Rate of Pay". Visit for more information.

California Learners Wage

The IWC Wage Orders in California permit an employer to pay all learners 85 percent of the minimum wage, rounded to the nearest nickel, which means at least $11.90 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $12.75 for employers with 26 or more employees (based on the January 1, 2022, minimum wage). *See the section below for local jurisdiction restrictions.  Employers must continue to follow overtime laws.

State law allows employers to pay the subminimum wage for the first 160 work hours, after which the employee must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage.

Note to employers: While paying a learner’s wage is a legal option for employers, paying this reduced wage may not be the best option for attracting, recruiting and hiring the best and brightest talent. It is also important to note that an individual cannot have any prior similar or related work experience.

*Employers in the following cities must follow the minimum wage requirements of the local city or county ordinance.

Some cities and counties in California have adopted their own local minimum wage rates that are separate from the state rate. Eligibility rules may vary from city to city. If a local ordinance provides for a higher minimum wage rate than the current state rate, the local rate must be paid. Employers who do business in these areas may not utilize the Learners Wage.

Review the following resource on to verify that you are following the appropriate minimum wage order. The following California jurisdictions have local minimum wage ordinances:

Alameda Novato
Belmont Oakland
Berkeley Palo Alto
Burlingame Pasadena
Cupertino Petaluma
Daly City Redwood City
East Palo Alto Richmond
El Cerrito San Diego
Emeryville San Francisco
Fremont San Jose
Half Moon Bay San Leandro
Hayward San Mateo
Los Altos San Carlos
Los Angeles City Santa Clara
Los Angeles County Santa Monica
Malibu Santa Rosa
Menlo Park Sonoma
Milpitas South San Francisco
Mountain View Sunnyvale


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