Simple Oversights Can Lead to Hot Water

What if your dental team comes to you with an idea for the summer: “Let’s shorten Thursday by one hour and then work straight through lunch.”  Would you follow their suggestion if it would not harm production?  By giving everyone more time to enjoy the nice weather, you could unfortunately step right into hot water.

Under Oregon employment law, you have to provide at least thirty minutes for a meal break after working for six hours.  In Washington, you have to provide at least thirty minutes for a meal break after working for five hours.

And it doesn’t matter whether you or your dental team adjusts the schedule.  The key point is that you have to include a meal break in accordance with state employment law.

Another common oversight that can lead to hot water involves what you can deduct from an employee’s paycheck.  Many practices consider deducting expenses related to dental treatment provided to staff—such as lab costs.  What seems innocent enough, though, runs contrary to employment law.

The general concept to remember is you usually cannot deduct money from an employee’s paycheck where the employer is the ultimate beneficiary.  In the case of an employee owing for lab costs, the beneficiary is the dentist.  The best way to handle this cost is to have the employee pay just like a regular patient.

An excellent resource for Oregon dentists is the Bureau of Labor and Industries website: www.oregon.gov/boli.  The website offers an extensive list of frequently asked questions, and they provide an anonymous hotline when you have questions regarding employment-related matters.

Please also lean on us to lead you in the right direction when you consider actions affecting your employees.  Sometimes the simplest ideas can create the biggest problems.  Please always ask questions to ensure you steer clear of hot water.

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