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Employee Issues in Your Dental or Medical Practice? Go to the Handbook

Employee handbooks are a must-have resource for every dental, optometry, and veterinary practice. Whether your team comprises 5 employees or 50, your handbook is imperative for ensuring legal compliance, such as leaves of absence and prohibited sexual harassment, as well as clarifying your position on things from proper office attire to employee cell phone usage. However, it is essential to remember that your employee handbook is only helpful if you consistently align disciplinary action and processes according to the handbook.

Here are 3 key suggestions for ensuring that your handbook continues to protect your interests:

1. Review your handbook often 

Providing your dental, optometry, or veterinary practice's employee handbook to new hires and requiring them to read it is (or should be) a standard practice during the orientation process. As the practice owner, you should also be reading your handbook to keep its terms fresh in your mind. Reading your handbook allows you to check for errors and ensure its provisions remain relevant. Additionally, if processes have changed or been updated, or if healthcare laws and regulations have changed, it is important revisions are made to your handbook and redistributed to your team with those updates. 


2. Refer to your handbook before resolving issues 

Sometimes an employee issue can seem simple, leaving you comfortable resolving it on the fly. However, by doing so, you may unwittingly be taking a position which is at odds with your employee handbook terms. Before making a decision, check your handbook to provide your employees with clear, consistent applications of its principles and procedures. Additionally, referencing your handbook for applications of principles and procedures ensures you are handling all situations consistently and more importantly, objectively, avoiding high-risk discrimination claims, which are very common in the healthcare industry - including dental, optometry, and veterinary practices. 

3. Be wary of straying from handbook terms

Your employee handbook’s terms are there for a reason. They help to ensure that you are applying the rules fairly and consistently, and to give your employees guidance as to what is expected of them. By straying from its terms, you are, at best, undermining your handbook’s importance, and, at worst, putting your practice at risk of a lawsuit. For example, say that your handbook outlines the requirements for all dental hygienists, dental assistants, and anyone else working in a treatment room to wear closed toe shoes. One of your otherwise reliable dental hygienists violates this policy, but no actions are taken. A newly hired dental assistant violates the same policy and is sent home to change to meet handbook standards. By treating the employees disproportionately, you could be opening yourself up to allegations of discrimination - regardless of your intent.

Your employee handbook keeps your practice running smoothly. To get the most from your handbook, remember to read it often, always refer to it in cases of dispute, and avoid straying from its terms whenever possible. When used effectively, your handbook will be an extremely beneficial HR tool. 


Get Compliant with HR For Health!

Constructing a comprehensive employee handbook - and ensuring all team members read and understand it - is a major undertaking. Still, in doing so, leaders will have the confidence they need to apply policies consistently. Team members will know exactly what they can expect while working in your dental, optometry, or veterinary practice. 

HR for Health has the tools you need to optimize your healthcare practice - including creating an employee handbook. Contact us today to learn how we help you manage your HR, so you and your team can devote more time to patient care.