Written by: Ali Oromchian, Founding Attorney, Dental Medical Counsel, PC
Your employee handbook is an important resource for your group dental practice and your team, but it’s most effective when it accurately reflects current laws and regulations. In the past, it might have seemed like a simple formality to keep up with frequent change requirements, but FFCRA violations can also be expensive.
Regulations are often confusing and complicated, particularly when they often vary depending on where you’re located and the services you provide at your practice. This becomes even more complicated as you grow and open or acquire dental practices in new states. The complexities of running a dental practice in California — instead of, say, Ohio — vary drastically and you must track those changes and communicate them with your team to ensure your 2023 employee handbook is compliant.
Here are the top four reasons you need to update your employee handbook for 2023.
1. New Technologies Could Influence What Your 2023 Employee Handbook Says
Has your group dental practice invested in new technologies that will affect the way you serve patients in 2023? Those technological changes probably mean you need to update your employee handbook. If nothing else, you might need to define which employees can access the new tools. They might need to receive specialized training or talk to managers to open accounts.
When updating employee handbooks for 2023, you should include this information so everyone knows what tools they can and cannot use.
2. Updating Your Handbook Helps Ensure Fair, Consistent Treatment
With hiring in the dental industry becoming more difficult over the past year, it could mean you need employees to work overtime. Adding new overtime rules to your employee handbook helps ensure fair and consistent treatment throughout your team and keeps you compliant with regulatory requirements. You’ll also find that if you fail to comply with labor laws in states like California, you may face expensive penalties depending on the infraction and the severity of your non-compliance.
Any changes in policy such as leave policies, payroll policies or even interviewing policies should be updated in your employee handbook content. By giving everyone the same information, all team members understand what to expect.
3. Establish Legal Protections for Certain Groups of Employees
Depending on where your dental offices are located, you may need to follow new legal protections for certain groups of employees. Federal rules will apply to everyone. State employment laws, however, can vary significantly. Outdated information in your employee handbook could lead to lawsuits and fines. It’s your responsibility to stay current with the latest regulations in your area.
Laws regarding protected classes of employees change all the time, particularly as they relate to state and local claims. Here are a few laws and regulations currently in place to address incidents of harassment and discrimination.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Equal Pay Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Civil Service Reform Act
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
These are a few laws that prohibit unfair targeting or discrimination of your employees, and some states, like Michigan, now include height and weight prohibitions. California law further prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle, marital status, or ancestry. The 2023 Handbook Update Checklist includes a full list of new laws and regulations by state.
4. Communicate Changes to Your Employees and Independent Contractors
Your employee handbook is your best resource for communicating changes to your policies and procedures, legal compliance issues, and changing expectations for your employees or independent contractors. Laws and regulations affect your group dental practice and your team in diverse ways, but it’s still important that you understand and clearly articulate how these policy changes will affect your team.
The consequences can be serious for your practice if you are not in compliance, but you also want to make it clear to your employees that you are following all state and federal regulations.
As part of your effort to help your employees better understand why your employee handbook is so important, you should schedule a meeting with your team to answer all their questions and make sure you’re all on the same page. Some employees may not want to speak up in such a public forum, so you should also offer the option of speaking with you one-on-one or asking their questions via an anonymous dropbox. Your goal is to proactively address misunderstandings, confusion, and concerns.
Your employee handbook is not only an important resource for you and your team, but it’s also a legal document. It should reflect the ever-changing needs of your growing group dental practice, and the ever-changing laws at both the federal and state level. In short, keeping your employee handbook up to date and communicating those latest updates to your team will protect your practice and set clear expectations with your team – setting you up for success.
Laws for your practice have changed. It’s time to check your employee handbook contents to ensure you’re compliant.
Get a State-by-State Guide About New HR Laws
HR for Health offers a state-by-state guide to help you update your employee
handbook with the latest policies and regulatory updates for your practice.
Access the new 2023 guide so you can update your handbook and stay compliant.
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