PROACTIVE PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
I compensate my employees for continuing education courses away from
our hometown? How about courses in town? What if they choose not to
attend CE courses that I subsidize and ask for them to attend?
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. Once a policy is
initiated and the protocol set, commit it to a formal written document,
and have each member of the staff acknowledge and sign off agreement
with the policy. Finally, include this document as part of the
office’s personnel policy manual.
general “rule of thumb” to follow is if an employee is required
to attend a lecture, meeting or training seminar, the employee should be
reimbursed for his/her time.
in which paying for the employee’s time would be an option are:
much should I compensate my employees for Continuing Education?
the team is required to participate in continuing education
either during regular working hours or outside the normal schedule and
they are not creating revenue, compensate employees at a Continuing
Education, or CE, rate of 50% of their regular pay. Each employee will
be responsible to note on his/her time log the hours that are
accumulated for CE, and travel time if away from the office. If an
employee is salaried, their compensation remains the same, regardless of
when the continuing education course is in session.
hygienists and employee dentists, I suggest offering to help pay for
courses they need to complete their requirements, but not compensate
them for time spent while at the course. Require pre-approval of the
course, and offer full tuition reimbursement of up to $200 annually for
hygienists, and use your own discretion as to how much reimbursement you
wish to make available for employee dentists. This is optional, and is
dependent upon the employer and budget. In reality, the employer is
assisting in keeping employee dentists and hygienists up to date with CE
and licensure compliance, which is ultimately the responsibility of
these professionals, and in turn they accept the day off without pay.
Education Away from Home
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:
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 supplementary
expenses to each employee, including hygienists. The per day allowance
will also help cover gas to and from the airport. 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.
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.
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 so that the
business will grow and develop along with the entire team’s
if an employee chooses not to participate in a continuing education
“trip” away from home?
may occur that an employee chooses not to participate in a continuing
education trip away from home. Certainly, family issues, health issues,
or personal reasons may result in the employee choosing not to attend.
In this case, the employee must take time off from work if the course is
during normal working hours. They may choose to use their accrued and
unused paid time off to receive pay, or not work and not be paid. An
alternative is to allow the employee to work in the office, if the
course takes place during the normal work schedule and receive their
normal rate of pay. However, be precise as to what is required of the
employee, make a list of tasks that must be completed, and require the
employee to be accountable for completing the tasks. A good idea is to
have a briefing of what was accomplished on the first day returning from
the course. If the tasks were not completed, this privilege to work
unsupervised may not be offered to this individual in the future.
if I don’t want to pay my employees for continuing education?
This is an option for an employer. In that case, I suggest creating a policy within the practice that requires employee acknowledgement. Use a form with the following verbiage.
Participation For Continuing Education
sessions are attended on a voluntary basis and employees are not paid
for their time. Please sign this statement of voluntary participation to
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 put forth improved expertise.