Is your HR house in order? Smart policies can save you hassle, stress—and money.

ARE EMPLOYMENT COMPLIANCE and human resources as important to dentists as, say, HIPAA compliance? You bet they are. After all, confusion and misunderstanding among a dental team are leading causes of stress, conflict, turnover, lower productivity and compromised patient care.

This can seem overwhelming, but begin with a simple assessment. Here are 10 key questions to get you started. And it is just a start: Federal and individual state compliance audits will have more than 200 questions each.

  1. Are you maintaining three types of personnel files—a separate I-9 file, plus one “Regular” and one “Confidential” file—for each employee?
  2. Are you following current recommended procedures when a pregnant employee says she cannot or will not take X-rays or work with nitrous oxide?
  3. Have you updated your job descriptions for each position to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations?
  4. Do your personnel policy manual and employee handbook include current breastfeeding rights and requirements pertinent to every employer?
  5. Have you reviewed your latest policy manual to confirm that it doesn’t contain contradictory language related to progressive discipline-policies probation or permanent employee status?
  6. Are you up to date on the guidelines and your documentation responsibilities to prevent “protected class” discrimination claims?
  7. When hiring, are you using a reference request form? Do you get every candidate’s authorization to check references, as well as consistently perform reference checks before you hire, to help avoid allegations of “negligent hiring”?
  8. Are you current regarding an established and written protocol to prevent or correctly manage a “hostile work environment” harassment claim?
  9. Are you properly handling overtime for your non-exempt employees, including office managers and hygienists, regardless of method of compensation, when work or continuing-ed hours exceed 40 in a week (or more than the daily permitted hours if required by your state’s regulations)?
  10. Are you clear on your rights as an employer regarding “protected concerted activities” and disciplinary action as it relates to an employee’s work-related posts on Facebook or other social-media sites?

Are there queries to which you didn’t reply “yes”? Each represents an area of potential confusion, stress or legal problems. That’s the bad news. The good news is you now know it—and by taking advantage of Benco Dental’s resources, you can take swift action.

Don’t wait until problems arise. Don’t gamble with your most valuable asset. Proactively avoid problems and create a thriving environment by making sure your HR- and employment-compliance house is fully in order. •

REBECCA BOARTFIELD is an HR Compliance Consultant. TIM TWIGG is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates, Benco Dental’s business partner for employment compliance and human resources. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more, call 800-679-2760 or visit