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Dental Practice HR and the Coronavirus

The second month of the Coronavirus shutdown brings new questions regarding Human Resources decisions for dental practices.

Paul Edwards, the Founder and CEO of CEDR HR Solutions, talked to Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar about the top questions dentists have about HR. This half-hour video has the full answers. The cheat sheet version is below.

Are the employees you had to lay off still your employees?

No.

When you took them off payroll, you terminated your working relationship with them. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to stay in touch with them through this difficult time, let them know that you care about them, and let them know that you plan to rehire them as soon as it’s feasible.

Click here for ideas about what to say to your employees during the coronavirus shutdown.

Why are so many employees getting denied unemployment benefits?

The short answer is that many state systems are overwhelmed. They weren’t built to handle this kind of volume. And many have out-dated rules in place regarding who qualifies for unemployment benefits. For example, many states have rules regarding how long you had to be employed at the company in order to qualify. Other states have rules saying you have to show how many jobs you applied for during the week in order to qualify.

Also, it’s hard to hire and train new employees to handle the demand because most people are under a stay-at-home order. The normal methods for doing group interviews, conducting group training, and providing oversight in a secure environment aren’t available right now.

The good news? “I think that’s going to get fixed over the next couple of weeks until everybody who can get unemployment is going to get it,” said Paul Edwards.

Why are some employees getting benefits, but the $600 is not included?

The intent of the Treasury and the Department of Labor was to supercharge the economy by giving everybody who was out of work because of coronavirus an extra $600 per week so they could have money to pay bills and to inject in the local economy.

“Think of the $600 as part of a stimulus package,” said Paul Edwards. “It is to get money into your community and into your business and then other businesses around it would benefit. Our economy depends on people having money and having people out of work does not help the economy.”

According to the legislation, it should be available even to people who were denied state unemployment benefits. States are still trying to figure out how to provide a mechanism for that.

As of April 15, many people were not receiving the extra $600 yet.

How do you rehire your employees?

When you’re getting ready to reopen, you’ll need to rehire your employees by giving them an offer letter outlining the start date, compensation, and benefits – just like you did the first time you hired them, Paul Edwards said.

Dentists will need to follow new CDC and state guidelines for reopening, which may include having all team members wear masks, not just the clinical team. There may be guidelines requiring temperature checks and other screening measures.

What happens if an employee cannot return to work?

There are going to be some employees who cannot return to work. They may have child care issues or pre-existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. In those cases, ask them to respond to your job offer letter via an email so that you have it on file.

“It may feel a little unfair when nine of your employees come back, but two of them don’t. You’re going to have to let that go,” said Paul Edwards. “You may not know what is going on in their personal lives that is leading them to have to make that decision not to return. I can tell you that most employees are telling their employers that they want to come back.”

In the video, Paul and Amol talk specifically about FMLA (about 15 minutes into the video). Plus, CEDRsolutions.com has this information: Employees who have been laid off or temporarily furloughed due to an office closure or lack of work are not entitled to paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation only applies to certain coronavirus-related absences, not to lack of work due to business closure. Employers can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for any leave payments made to employees under this law, including the cost of covering their health insurance premiums during leave.

Additional Resources

Click here to visit CEDR HR Solutions’ website with resources and answers for dentists.

For more interviews with experts, training resources, and guides, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com.

There will be a huge need for dentistry once people can resume normal activities. More people than ever will have questions about safety, affordable treatment options, and what’s covered by their insurance plans post-COVID. Visit PatientPrism.com/Overview to find out how we can help your team convert more callers into booked appointments.

About this Industry Leader:

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Paul Edwards

CEO and Co-Founder, CEDR HR Solutions

Paul Edwards is the CEO and co-founder of CEDR HR Solutions, a leading provider of on-demand HR support for dental practices of all sizes and specialties across the United States.  It has been very busy helping dentists with HR during the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn.

With over 25 years of experience as a manager and business owner, Paul is well-known throughout the dental community for his expertise when it comes to solving HR issues that impact dental practice owners and managers. He specializes in helping dentists successfully handle employee issues and safely navigate the complex and ever-changing employment law landscape through his company’s customized employee handbooks and support center.

Paul is the author of HR Base Camp, a blog and podcast channel for dentists and healthcare providers. He is also a featured writer for The Profitable Dentist, Dentistry IQ, and Dentaltown. He is a contributor to the ADA‘s GPS program and regularly speaks at dental seminars, conferences and CE courses across the country, including the Greater New York Dental Meeting, Yankee Dental Conference, DOCS Education, AADOM and more.

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