3 Compliance Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Dental Practice

categories: HR Tips
3 compliance mistakes that are hurting your dental practice

Have you ever heard of another dental practice making a compliance mistake that you regularly make and started to panic a little? This seems to be when our phone rings; after someone is penalized or after they finally realize some of the errors they are making.

Maintaining compliance as an employer is a time consuming and ever-evolving practice that can not only be difficult to keep up with, but could close your doors if you are egregious in your violations.

As the owner of a dental practice, your time is your most valuable asset. Often times, the hectic nature of running a practice has you skipping vital steps in the employment practice to focus on patient care.

Taking the time to understand the compliance areas that are important to you and your employees can help you to avoid long-term issues and simplify your administrative burden.

Here are three compliance mistakes we find in most dental practices and what you can do to correct them:

Employee Misclassification

While there are several forms of misclassification that occur within a practice, we see the exempt vs. nonexempt classification as the most blatantly disregarded classification.

According to the FLSA, there are five exemptions from overtime and minimum wage requirements;

  • Executive (examples: chief executive officer, controller, vice president, director)
  • Administrative (examples: manager, supervisor, administrator)
  • Professional Learned AND Creative (examples: accountant, nurse, engineer, composer, singer, graphic designer)
  • Computer-Related (examples: network or database analyst, developer, programmer, software engineer)
  • Outside Sales (examples: salespersons, contract negotiators)

+ Highly Compensated Employees Performing Executive, Professional or Administrative Duties with a salary of more than $100k a year.

There are two steps to determining whether an employee is exempt and that is the salary basis and the primary duties performed. The primary duties performed is where a lot of employers miss the mark. You must meet all criteria for a specific exemption, not just one.

We commonly see dental practices with front desk staff that are classified as exempt because the thought is that they are performing administrative work. This job typically does not meet this exemption since the employee can usually not make independent decisions and might not meet the salary requirement.

Many dental practices will employ part-time employees and pay them a salary even though they don’t meet the salary basis. This is usually a no-no.

If you are unsure about your classifications, use a checklist (like the one you can download here) to ensure your employees are accurately classified.

New Hire Reporting

This is something that is very simple, but can trip up a lot of dental practices. Making sure you are not only reporting your new hire to the state but also performing EVerify for your federal reporting is very important. You can be penalized or even worse, you will be flagged and watched going forward which could result in DOL audits.

We suggest creating a new hire checklist. Preferably this is part of a new hire onboarding system, but at the minimum you should have a checklist with all of the steps you need to take with a new hire during the onboarding process. You need to be diligent about completing them.

Lack of Set Processes

We provide HR for dental offices and in this process we get a very in-depth look at our clients processes right out of the gate. It always fascinates me how much time and money our dental practices spend to make sure they have the proper processes in place to ensure great care, increase revenue, etc. However, they have nothing in place for their employment practices (and often don’t think they need anything.)

Take the time to establish a set of processes (or have someone establish them for you) and allow yourself to follow them and keep things simple. Don’t waste time “reinventing the wheel” for something you will have to do with every single employee or even if it will apply to more than half of your employees at some point.

By taking the steps above you can eliminate some of the major blunders that our dental practice clients (used to) commit on a daily basis. Not paying attention to these missteps could cost you a great deal in penalties or back wages in the future.

HR for dental offices is hard. Seek out resources to help you where you are unsure how to move forward. Make sure your partners have experience providing HR support for dental offices. If you need HR support for your dental practice, let us know and we will be glad to provide you with a free assessment.


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