Dentists employ sizeable staffs. Routinely, a general practice dentistry will employ two hygienists per dentist, assistants, and adequate support staff for coordinating appointments, billing, and insurance claims. Of course specialty dental professionals utilize similar employee schemes. As small business owners, dental professionals provide excellent opportunities to the work force. And, often, the dentists, themselves, serve as the de facto office manager. Even more often, the dentists learned little, or remember little regarding practice management and employee relations from dental school. Any small business owner can attest that managing employees can prove a difficult task. Disputes are unavoidable. Injuries occur. All employers are susceptible to harassment and discrimination claims. It can be difficult for new employers to navigate payroll functions, tax laws, and worker’s rights laws.

Lake Norman Law Firm is experienced with dental practice employee frameworks, laws, and general customs. We can advise our dentists with respect to all employee issues, regardless of the issue. We offer employment agreements for associates, hygienists, and management staff. Dentists should use a lawyer familiar with the industry nuances – not an employment lawyer – to draft these agreements. An attorney experienced with dentistry customs and the related laws will know the legitimacy of a non-compete clause (whereas even the most skilled and seasoned general lawyer or employment lawyer may have to research the issue, costing the practice additional fees). Similarly, we are intimately familiar with the industry norms for salaries and commissions for dentistry staff in North Carolina. How many dentists require their hygienists to execute non-solicitation agreements to protect against their patients following a departing hygienist (which often occurs)? Not many. However, this is the type of invaluable counsel that our dentist clients receive – and that frankly – only those dentists who employ counsel experienced with representing dental practices can obtain. Do dental practices pay for their employees’ health insurance premiums in 2017? Because of our extensive work with several dentists, we can answer these questions, and connect our clients with valuable information and resources to cut overhead, but also promote a healthy work environment.

Thus, our representation of dentists with respect to employee issues is broad – our clients often lean on us for practical advice and direction on industry trends, but also in the event of conflict or dispute. As always, at the first sign of conflict involving an employee, it is important that the dental professional contact us for preventative guidance and/or implementation of a plan to mitigate the dispute.