Graduation from residency or dental school can be very overwhelming: you cannot wait to get started with future patients, but first you have a multitude of decisions to make. Will you join a small practice or a large regional practice? Will you start your own practice? Will you go continue your schooling in a doctoral or specialty program?
If you decide to join an existing oral surgery or dental practice, it is important to review your Employment Agreement carefully and thoroughly. Employment agreements vary from practice to practice, and even among associates within a practice. Employment Agreements are legally binding contracts so you should have it reviewed by an experienced labor attorney. While there is no standard Employment Agreement, State and Federal laws govern many aspects of employment.
Some common terms that you can expect to find in an Employment Agreement are:
- Term of Employment (effective date of hire, length of service, start and end dates, address of the office, how long before you can be a regular employee or partner versus an independent contractor)
- Services to be performed (full or part time, scope of practice, expectations, hours/days to be worked, moonlighting potential)
- Compensation (base pay, profit sharing, expectations for production, reimbursement for continuing education and professional dues, bonus—guaranteed or discretionary)
- Benefits (health care, car allowance, vacation time, holidays, sick days, life insurance, disability insurance)
- Professional Liability Insurance or Dental Malpractice Insurance (who pays the premium, policy limits, duty to purchase tail coverage, duty to maintain coverage)
- Record keeping duties (confidentiality, who owns and maintains records)
- Covenant Not to Compete or Restrictive Covenants (if recognized by state law, terms and conditions that restrict a departing employee for a set term and geographic region)
- Non-disclosure (prohibits sharing of private patient information, business operations of employer, referral sources, 3rd party payer information)
- Termination of Employment (notice requirements, what constitutes cause for termination (if required), at-will employment where no cause is required, grounds for automatic termination)
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of what to look out for in an employment agreement, it should help you get started. For any questions about employment agreements and for clarification of certain terms in your employment agreement, you should contact your employer and/or a qualified attorney in your area.