Employee Manuals – Don’t Put a Target on Your Back

Dental staff management starts with an effective employee manual.  Unfortunately, a number of doctors place a target on their back when they hand out employee manuals that are poorly written and outdated.  If a disgruntled ex-employee has cause to sue you, you might as well hand over your checkbook.

The McGill Advisory newsletter has an excellent article in their April edition that outlines the top ten personnel manual errors.  I want to cover the most common ones from the list that I encounter.


First, review your manual to make sure you are not promising permanent employment after the initial ninety-day probationary period.  Use of the word “permanent” could very well come back and haunt you if you fire an employee “at will.”

Next, review how you outline employee benefits.  The most effective way to discuss benefits such as insurance and retirement is to refer the employee to the specific plan documents.  To protect yourself in case those benefits change, you need to include language indicating benefits are subject to change and the plan documents take precedent over the manual.

I sometimes see where doctors outline bonuses in the benefits section, even though bonuses are not guaranteed.  You probably now see where it is wise to leave this out of the manual completely.

Finally, make sure you have signed receipts from the entire team acknowledging they have read the manual and understand the provisions.  Otherwise, a disgruntled employee can later claim he/she never received one.

Why place a target on your back that doesn’t need to be there?  Get the appropriate help to make sure your employee manual works for you and doesn’t put you at risk.

If you need help putting together an employee manual, please contact us.

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