5.25.12 Issue #532 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Employee Office Manual Needs Updating
By Belle DuChame, CDPMA

Dear Belle,

“My dental assistant caries her phone in the scrub jacket and texts when I leave the treatment room, texts in the lab and whenever there is a moment when I am not around.  What should I do?”

Dr. Textnomore

Dear Dr. Textnomore,

Is your employee clocking out to text? Is the employee texting during a qualified break period? Is there an office policy in regard to texting, emailing or surfing the net in your employee office manual? If you said no to any of the above, then it is time to update that employee policy manual to reflect changes in technology, HIPAA and OSHA and any other changes that have taken place in your office.    

Many practices have an employee office manual and think they are covered, even though it was created up to fifteen or even twenty years ago and newer critical issues are not included in the existing manual. There are different sources available to help create a new or update an existing policy manual. This information varies from state to state, so it is important to get legal advice particular to your practice location. Mike Moore, Esq. can customize a human resource policy for you and is recommended by McKenzie Management. With more than twenty years’ experience as an attorney representing employees in discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination suits against some of the largest corporations in the country, he brings a wealth of knowledge gained by this experience to add value to the policy manuals that he creates for the dentist client.

 A second source, the ADA provides an updated informational guide for creating an employee office manual and provides samples and basic information. Legal counsel is recommended to make sure your policy meets with state and federal guidelines for employee laws.

In the current hiring market, practices must be diligent with keeping employee files accurate. Background checks for employees that will have access to sensitive patient information, drugs or prescription forms are rare in dental offices for fear of crossing into legislative privacy mandates. Credit checks, background checks and checking references for employees handling money in the dental practice is being recommended due to the higher incidences of employee embezzlement. According to results from a survey conducted by Susan Gunn, CFE, a professional fraud investigator for dental practices, “A majority of survey respondents admitted no background or reference-checking was done prior to hiring the employee.” An embezzler can be territorial, work long hours and will only take a vacation when no one else is in the office. Job descriptions could state that dental assistants will be cross-trained to post a payment to accounts and schedule appointments so that the possibility of having a different set of eyes on the accounts is there, thus eliminating territorial front office behavior.

Having an Authorization, Waiver and Release of Liability for Employment-Related Investigations for the potential employee to sign will help eliminate a potential embezzler from your practice. Again, this form will have to be approved by legal counsel and represent state and federal mandates. The cost of prevention is cheap when you consider what could happen not only to your bottom line but the cost of the emotional agony of having been betrayed. This form would be included in your employee office manual as a requirement before finalizing the job application.

A national outcry over “bullying” or harassment has caught the attention of many people who will file claims relating to being “forced” out of a job by fear caused by harassment.  In the employee policy manual a “harassment policy” needs to reflect the current terminology and a remedy to ensure the safety of the victim of harassment.

The use of cellphones, texting and office computers must be included in the update of the employee policy manual. The office computers must be password protected so that each person must log in and log off. Office computers are not to be used for any personal use and that includes break time, lunch time or after hours. Cell phones must be turned off during office work hours and can be checked at scheduled break times only and not in areas where patients can see or hear that a personal conversation is taking place. The office phone can be available for staff to receive emergency calls during patient hours.

To learn how to set up your office systems for smooth, stress reduced operations, call McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 and take a Front Office, Office Management or CEO dental training course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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