When your dental practice is busy and you are rushing from chair to chair, you are not typically paying attention to whether your team is taking their rest and lunch breaks. Therefore, it’s very important to have systems in place to ensure your team gets their allotted breaks.
In Oregon, your non-exempt team (paid hourly) is allowed one paid rest break of at least ten minutes for each four hour segment worked or the major part thereof, meaning for every segment that exceeds two hours. For example, if you just work three hours, your team is entitled to one ten-minute break. Even though you did not work the full four hours, you worked the major part of a four-hour segment of time. Since most dental team members work at least eight hours per day, an allowance is needed for two ten-minute breaks during the day.
In addition, one meal period of no less than thirty minutes is provided when non-exempt employees work six hours or more in one work period. Your team is therefore entitled to one meal break of at least thirty minutes during their typical eight hour workday.
It takes teamwork and communication to ensure you stay compliant with the rules. For example, if you have two dental assistants, they can make adjustments to the patients they see to take staggered lunches on busy days. Also, you can have your assisting team help with exams and room turnover to ensure your hygiene team gets their rest breaks during the day.
Make sure you regularly ask you team if they are getting their rest and lunch breaks. If you find out they are not, make it a priority to resolve the situation, which is not only important for staying in compliance, but it also positively affects team morale.