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GoodmanGrant Blog for Dentists

We've always got something to say about what's happening in the dental business and that's why we are regular contributors for a number of industry journals.

Here you will find a selection of our latest articles, ranging from employment and regulatory issues to contracts and property issues.

Everyone at Goodman Grant is encouraged to contribute, which reflects the wide range of specialist experience we have within the team.

If there's a subject not covered here then please get in touch and we will see what we can find in the archives.


How are you dealing with ‘bad attitude’ of an employee?

Your employee is not pulling in the same direction as the business, it is affecting the morale of the rest of the team, with their bad attitude towards patients and colleagues.

The difficulty is whether this is misconduct or an issue of whether the employee is capable of performing their duties as an employee.

If there is an issue where the bad attitude is evidenced by refusing to obey a lawful instruction “please can you spend the next hour ordering stock for surgery 3” and instead you find that hour is invariably spent sat in the office or chatting at the coffee machine, you are looking at a misconduct issue.

However, if there is a common theme of negativity causing poor performance rather than non-performance, maybe due to an illness in their family or financial problems at home, then it is more likely to be a capability issue.

The key to dealing with issues of these natures is to gather evidence, notes and examples as early as possible as to how the behaviour and/or conduct is affecting the practice e.g. others are having to stay back to pick up the slack, or a patient has complained about the way they have been spoken to or dealt with.

Do you have to go through a whole host of red tape and invoke a disciplinary procedure? No, the best management of issues is to record everything, but to resolve it via informal discussions and meetings. The theme of these should be trying to understand the cause/motive of the issues arising. There will be no improvement in conduct or performance whilst an employee is made to feel as though their personality is being brought into question. The discussion should remain solely in relation to the events that you know have taken place. Take note of representation, find a solution, record, review for improvements.

At the beginning of any HR/Employee issue the important boxes to tick are:

  • Show that you have taken steps to address the problem;
  • Explored all reasonable steps to help resolve them;
  • Record everything. Then follow a fair procedure, use your staff handbook, if you don’t understand how to follow it, get advice.

Set deadlines to review for improvements, if the issues persist then based on the facts, you have a decision to make as to whether to invoke disciplinary or capability procedures. As you have recorded everything, you can seek advice as to which procedure is most appropriate and be able to put forward your reasoning for the same to the employee.

A long serving employee hands in their notice, now they want to leave early – what do you do?

Your dental nurse has found a new job in the next town and her new employer wants her to start at the end of next month, but your employee is contracted to work 12 weeks’ notice after working for you for 13 years.

Whilst you are keen to recruit somebody new or promote somebody else, the existing employee is equally eager to move on without working their full notice.

Understandably, emotion can come in and you feel that you want them to see out their notice whilst you recruit, but is it in either party’s interest to flatly refuse that request for them to leave early?

From a contractual perspective, that employee is breaching that requirement to work the notice and therefore you are under no obligation to pay them for the notice which they don’t work. It is probably better to leave matters at that than to pursue them for that breach and performance isn’t going to be to the level one would usually expect with an employee who sees the end in sight.

The rest of the team could benefit from some temporary additional hours whilst a permanent replacement is found for example.

You can also look at agreeing a compromise on when you want them to work until and when they wish to leave.

It is important to put in writing (a signed letter is probably the most advisable) to set out the alternative to the contractual requirement being agreed and the fact that unworked notice will not be paid to the employee. In doing so, you are minimising subsequent claims and allegations of non-payment of wages for example.

Equally, agreeing to an early release from notice periods may not be viable for the practice, it could leave a surgery unable to function or reception unmanned.

The key to these situations is to firstly consider; (a) what does the contract say; (b) what you are prepared to agree to and why; and (c) what is best for the practice.

As with any agreement, set out your agreement or refusal to proposals in writing, making the final day of work and period/amount of pay clear.

The other general consideration here is that one notice period doesn’t fit all, your head dental nurse may need a longer notice period in their contract than your part time receptionist who is one of 4-5 part-timers. This should be considered on an employee by employee basis.



Topics: Dentists


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