|| What are "the rules" for paying
my staff while we're traveling for continuing education, including my
The issue regarding pay and travel for continuing education comes up
quite a bit, and since there is no "rule" or industry standard,
a dentist or employer should consider an approach based on what the
business can afford financially, while being reasonable. Once a protocol
or policy is formed, commit it to paper, have each member of the staff
acknowledge and sign off on the policy. Finally, include it as part
of the office's personnel policy manual.
A general "rule of thumb" to follow is if one requires an
employee to attend a lecture, meeting or training seminar then expect
to pay for that employee's time. Situations in which paying for the
employee's time would be an option are if:
· The employee attends the event outside of his or her regular
· Attendance is voluntary.
· The instruction session isn't directly related to the employee's
· The employee doesn't perform any productive work during the
With this background information, here are a few recommendations.
Continuing Education Rate of Pay
When the team is required to participate in continuing education during
normal working hours or outside the normal schedule and they are not
directly applying their skills, compensate employees at a Continuing
Education, or CE, rate of 50% of their regular pay. Each employee will
be responsible to note on his or her time log the hours that are accumulated
for CE, and travel time if away from the office. This applies to all
personnel except registered dental hygienists and employee dentists.
For hygienists, I suggest offering to help pay for courses they need
to complete their requirements, but not compensate them for time worked
while at the course. Require pre-approval of the course, and offer full
tuition reimbursement of up to $200 annually. Here, one is assisting
them with CE and licensure compliance, their responsibility, and in
turn they accept the day off without pay.
Continuing Education Away from Home
For continuing education courses where travel outside of the immediate
metropolitan area is necessary, and the course takes place outside the
normal business schedule, consider these guidelines:
The employer will pay course tuition, travel expenses including airfare,
ground transportation to and from the hotel, lodging, any meals sponsored
by the employer, and a $40 per day allowance for incidental expenses
to each employee, including hygienists. Transportation from home to
and from the airport will be the responsibility of the employee. If
group shuttle arrangements are more reasonable and accommodating, then
the employer may elect to arrange and pay for group transportation.
Under these circumstances, wages for hours worked will not be paid.
When a significant investment in continuing education and travel is
made on the employee's behalf, I suggest considering a policy where
the employee agrees to remain employed with the office for a period
of one full year after the course is completed. If the employer terminates
the employee because of a violation of company policy, or the employee
resigns, then the employer may, at his or her sole discretion, require
the employee to reimburse the cost of tuition, lodging, and airfare.
It is highly recommended that team members are aware that continuing
education is an important part of career and practice development. State
this in the personnel manual and make sure employees sign an acknowledgement
form that they understand one aspect of their job will be time spent
learning how to improve their own performance along with the entire
In summary, make sure employees understand the basis of the recommendations
for this policy:
· The employee is engaging in a group session to educate the
team on enhancing people and practice performance.
· They are not performing productive work during the session.
· It is an integral part of the businesses plan to support an
educated and organized team.
· A significant investment has been made on their behalf to advance
their knowledge and skills.
Continuing education is necessary in today's changing environment.
Enhancing people and practice performance leads to enhanced patient
services, and as a result, improved productivity and profit. Provide
employees with a reasonable package for continuing education and travel
so that the team is encouraged to advance their skills and to put forth
their improved expertise.