Office Policies & Manuals

Employee manuals and the Guide for the New Dentists, as well as supporting policies related to meal and rest breaks and the proper way to implement an alternative work schedule.

When smartphones, side gigs and odors disrupt the office
With so much emphasis on the need for employers to establish written policies mandated by federal, state and local laws, it’s easy to overlook the important day-to-day employee management policies on everything from hygiene and smoking to use of personal electronic devices. Discussed below are four areas of employee conduct and attire expectations that you might consider addressing through a workplace policy, if you don’t already have one in place.
New state law prohibits discrimination based on natural hairstyle
A new state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of hair textures or protective hairstyles that are historically associated with race. Senate Bill 188, also known as the CROWN Act, was signed in July by Gov. Gavin Newsom and will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act was amended by the law to include in the definition of race “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”
The alternative workweek: How to adopt and follow one in the dental office
Employers often struggle to balance the need for expanded practice hours to accommodate patient schedules and the costs associated with nonexempt employee overtime. In California, employers have the option to greatly reduce overtime costs by adopting an alternative workweek schedule. What exactly is an alternative workweek schedule, and is it good news for employees and employers?
Members can now create a customized employee manual - online
CDA members have long been able to use the Sample Employee Manual template, available through CDA Practice Support, to build a customized employee manual. Now, they can also go online to generate one of the most essential HR tools for every practice — a manual that both informs employees about workplace rules and helps to protect dentists from potential lawsuits.
The three essential functions of your employee manual
When it comes to your dental practice, one of the most important documents in your HR toolkit is your employee manual. Not only can definitive employee policies resolve disputes, but they can thwart issues before they arise, protecting both the employer and the employee from any sort of misperception and the potential for litigation.
Harassment prevention training: More than a compliance box to ‘check off’
Recently enacted laws require employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training, including a law that many California dentists will need to comply with by January 2020, as CDA previously reported. But while important, these laws are only a small part of the harassment prevention puzzle. Recognizing workplace conflict — and taking steps to reduce it — is an important piece of the puzzle.
Paid sick leave compliance and management explained
Implemented in July 2015, California’s mandatory paid sick leave policy requires nearly all employers to provide employees with protected paid sick leave. But if you’re still confused about how to comply with the requirements, rest assured, you’re not alone. CDA Practice Support continues to receive daily calls about compliance and employee management issues related to the state law. Here are the basics for employers.
Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by Jan. 1, 2020
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown last September signed a bill requiring California employers of five or more employees to provide expanded training on sexual harassment prevention to all of their employees by Jan. 1, 2020. Practically speaking, this means employers will need to complete the mandatory one- or two-hour trainings for employees in 2019 to be compliant by the January 2020 deadline.
Employment separation in the dental practice: How to prepare
Every employee’s employment life cycle ends eventually, whether due to resignation, retirement, termination or other reason. In the dental office, any employee who separates should do so in a structured and professional manner with minimum disruption to the patients, staff and practice. Still, depending on what triggers an employee’s departure, separation can be an awkward situation for employers to navigate. Such discomfort can be lessened if clear policies and practices are in place.
Disappearing act: Has your employee abandoned you?
Employees miss work for myriad reasons, but what happens when an employee is a no-show and has not communicated with the employer about his or her absence? There are no telephone calls, emails or texts — the employee has made no contact of any kind with the employer. While this can be a frustrating situation, it is not a “free ticket” to terminating the employee.
Include annual license verification in personnel records management
An individual was arrested in California in March for false representation as a dental hygienist and for making false claims for health benefits. According to additional information CDA obtained, the individual worked without a license in several dental offices in Northern California before her arrest. CDA offers the following article as a reminder to dentists to include license verification as a best practice for hiring and ongoing personnel management.
CDA's Sample Employee Manual updated with new and revised policies
Having an up-to-date, legally compliant manual can play a critical role in helping employers follow new employment laws and manage employees in the practice. CDA Practice Support is pleased to share that the Sample Employee Manual, a downloadable resource for members, has seen a transformation in 2018. Aside from a reorganization of the contents, the revised manual contains more than a dozen new and revised policies.
Managing employees in natural disasters, other unexpected events
Flooding and wildfire evacuations have become an all-too-common concern in California. Not only do employers and employees have personal concerns, but employers must also be mindful that obligations pursuant to state employment laws and other considerations do not stop in times of disaster. Safety and security, wage and hour laws and leave of absence have employers wondering what happens next.
Keep holidays happy with guidelines for office parties
When planning a holiday party, one might carefully consider food, décor, entertainment and overall costs. And while choosing the party venue may be a key factor for the average host, it’s an even more essential element for practice owners to consider. It’s important that employers establish clear guidelines when organizing any work-related event. If care isn’t taken, practice owners can be held liable for misconduct.
Ban-the-box law, new leave mandate, other laws take effect Jan. 1
Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 14 signed into law Assembly Bill 1008. This statewide “ban-the-box” law generally bars employers with five or more employees from asking an applicant to disclose conviction information until the employer has made a conditional offer of employment. If an employer later decides to revoke the offer based on an individual's criminal history, the employer must undertake a procedure called the “fair chance” process.
Follow the law when paying overtime, travel, education and more
Jammed schedules, late patients, lunchtime meetings, excess overtime, early morning staff huddles, meal and rest break requirements: All can tempt practice owners to find myriad creative ways to manage employee costs. This article, part 2 of a two-part series, covers compensation for time worked; payment of overtime; meal and rest break requirements; and the requirements of paying for education and travel.
Safe and sober: Managing employees who are under the influence
Your practice needs the entire team to be sharp and focused for the schedule to run smoothly, so if you’ve ever had an employee show up in the morning unable to perform duties, you can expect to have both a hard conversation and a long day. The impact of an employee’s substance abuse on a practice extends beyond impaired performance and productivity.
Determining employee classification, status and more
Practice owners who are unfamiliar with complex labor laws or are not paying wages appropriately could be risking an unwelcome invitation to a wage and hour claim or lawsuit. It is important that employers review and understand the basic principles of wage and hour laws and follow both the federal standards and California laws that provide greater protections for employees.
Staying current on employment law helps avoid liability
Many dentists dream of opening their own practices. And while they may have spent years refining their clinical skills, they are often less familiar with the business side of dentistry. This is especially true when it comes to employment law, an area of frequent claims against dental practice owners. Dentists should heed particular caution to the rules and regulations surrounding meal and rest periods.
Minimum wage, paid sick leave increases take effect July 1
A number of local minimum wage increases across California will take effect July 1, 2017. Eligibility rules may vary among these locations. Practice owners should review the individual city ordinances and follow posting requirements to be in compliance. Employers should update practice employee manuals and policies accordingly. Employers in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are also due to comply with local leave laws beginning July 1.
Keeping politics out of the dental office
The Dentists Insurance Company reports an increase in calls to the Risk Management Advice Line regarding heated political debates erupting in the office among both staff and patients. Today’s political climate is more tumultuous than ever, reaching a level of polarization that often spills into daily interactions. Individuals on all sides are emboldened to share their viewpoints. But like the holiday dinner table, a dental office is no place for political or religious discussions.
When practice owners develop their employee manuals, they should take care when establishing an introductory or probationary period policy. These policies can create misunderstandings for employees if the employer does not clearly communicate the purpose of the policy to the new employee, whether it is for performance evaluation or benefits eligibility.
Put employee policies in place with CDA resource
Having a current employee manual should be a top priority for employers. It establishes the foundation for a successful employment relationship by defining practice values, behavioral expectations and workplace standards. An up-to-date “Sample Employee Manual” and “Practice Policy Revision Employee Acknowledgment Template” are available for CDA members.
Setting staff up for success in three steps
Skilled employees lead to improved efficiency, which in turn results in more productive workdays for everyone — and better outcomes for patients. Still, most practice owners probably understand that success depends on more than the skills and abilities employees bring with them. Setting staff up for success requires effective hiring and onboarding; proper training and resources; and ongoing, open communication.
Supreme Court issues decision on employee rest periods
The California Supreme Court on Dec. 22 issued an important decision in a case (Augustus v. ABM) involving the security guard industry. In its simplest form, the ruling stated that “… state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods. During required rest periods, employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”
Holiday pay: Laws and best practices
As requests for time off increase during the holiday season, understanding the laws that govern holiday pay and observing a few best practices will go a long way toward maintaining an efficient and harmonious office. Here are key state laws and best practices to observe in the dental office.
Practice owners must post 'Time Off to Vote' notices
Employers are required to post a notice 10 days prior to an election advising employees of provisions for taking paid leave for the purpose of voting in statewide elections. The notices should be posted where employees congregate most often, or where employees enter and exit the workplace.
Three things dentists should have for new employees
Setting expectations for employees at any business is important for overall operations. The same applies to a dental practice. Confusion and frustration can arise when dentists don’t provide an updated employee manual and proper job descriptions and establish a system for accountability.
How to handle staff drama
Drama in the workplace creates an energy-draining work environment that no one enjoys. In the dental office, gossip can run at high levels if the owner dentist has not set standards and policies that prohibit this type of behavior.
Importance of following meal and rest break policies
One of the issues dental team members can face is finding the right time to take a meal or rest break. The busy day, especially for smaller practices with a small staff, sometimes doesn’t leave a lot of time to easily take a break.
Exempt vs. nonexempt: understand employee classifications
Employee classification is an important and complex piece of being a business owner, and that applies to dentists who own a practice. By a general principle, exempt employees possess management and decision-making responsibilities as a majority of their essential job functions (51 percent minimum).
Steps for adopting alternative workweek
Managing the ins and outs of running a business and keeping track of changing state laws can be a challenge for many small-business owners, including dentists. CDA Practice Support offers clarity to its member dentists by providing resources and addressing issues, like overtime pay and implementing an alternative workweek for employees, which can be difficult to navigate.
Dealing with staff compensation for C.E. events
You’ve provided the education, a catered lunch and blocked out the time for you and your team. Now you’re wondering what else you should provide when it comes to continuing education events for employees — most likely, compensation.
CDA Practice Support top trending resources
CDA Practice Support is designed to help dentists navigate the business side of dentistry with ease, and it is chock-full of valuable resources to help them run their practices. Here are the top five trending CDA Practice Support resources in the categories of practice management, employment practices, dental benefit plans and regulatory compliance.
Four tips on holiday pay in the dental practice
With the holidays upon us, some dentists and their staff may begin to think about time off. With this in mind, understanding employment laws related to holiday pay is important. CDA Practice Support has compiled four tips dentists should consider in terms of holiday pay.
New changes to sick leave law approved
A new bill has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to clarify and simplify requirements under the new sick leave law in California, which went into effect July 1 and requires employers to provide three paid sick days each year to their employees. AB 304, which became effective July 13, does not change the three-day sick leave law, but is intended to alleviate some of the difficulties in implementing its requirements.
CDA provides clarity on sick leave law misconceptions
The new sick leave law requires nearly every employer in California to allow all of its employees at least three paid sick days each year. The law provides that employees receive no less than an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. One of the misconceptions among dentists is that they must pay for the time up front, if the time is provided as a lump sum (three days, front-loaded).
The effective date for employers to begin providing mandatory sick leave to all employees has arrived (July 1), and in addition to updating policies, dentists must also distribute a new/updated employee notice by July 8.
How to handle disciplining dental staff
Employee discipline is one of the hardest, but necessary, components of practice ownership and employing staff. It's human nature to avoid confrontation. As a leader, it's important to set the ground rules from the first day of employment. Creating an atmosphere of collaboration, mutual respect and trust early on can reap long-term rewards for the employee, the dentist as the employer and ultimately the practice.
What to expect when your employee is expecting
Not only must dentists stay up to date on advances in technology, they must also stay current on ever-changing employment laws. As owners or partners of practices, employee issues will always be of concern and importance to dentists. A pregnant employee usually prompts many questions and concerns in the office, for the dentist and the staff as well as the employee herself. It is best to know how to handle these situations before they arise.
CDA answers top mandatory sick leave questions
With the impending July 1 deadline for employers to begin providing mandatory sick leave to all employees, CDA Practice Support has answers to top questions you’ve been asking about how the law applies to your practice. The new law requires nearly every employer in California to provide all of its employees paid sick days each year.
Sick leave law compliance deadline approaching
The effective date for employers to begin providing mandatory sick leave to all employees is July 1, or on the first day of employment for new employees — whichever is later. The new law requires nearly every employer in California to allow all of its employees at least three paid sick days each year. Here is what dentists need to know.
Handling employee pregnancy and baby bonding leaves
Many dental practices, because of their small size, may not be required to provide benefits to employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act. However, there may be other laws that do apply to employee leave. We have listed the four types of leaves for baby bonding/pregnancy that dentists and their staff should be aware of as well as a description of who is eligible and the amount of leave available under each type.
Include social media in practice employee manuals
CDA’s 2015 Sample Employee Manual provides a specific template that practices can incorporate into their own employee manuals. The “Social Networking” section of CDA’s Sample Employee Manual features language that dentists can add such as specifying that only authorized individuals are allowed to represent the practice on social media and when employees can use their own devices for personal social media purposes.
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