All posts by Kim Knapp

About Kim Knapp

With more than 25 years of clinical and admin experience in the dental field, I serve the employment needs of dental professionals and practices as President of Dental Temps Professional Services, as an HR Consultant for Bent Ericksen & Assoc. and as a speaker. I’m also a mom, a runner, and an artist, married to my best friend.

Are They An Independent Contractor or an Employee?

Updated: 3/25/2019

1099 is more than a number, and we’re going to talk about why.

First, do you own or manage a dental practice?

If so: 1. Do you have a separate bank account to manage your income? 2. Do you invoice the dentist for your services as an independent contractor? 3. Do you classify dental professionals who come to work in your office as independent contractors?

And second, are you an independent contractor?

If you fall into one of the two categories mentioned above, this blog is for you.

Familiarize yourself with Form 1099

dental-1099

It’s in the best interest of both the business owner and the independent contractor–dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, business assistant and receptionist–to be informed and take ownership of the facts as they relate to the employment relationship when it comes to payments and taxes. Form 1099 is an IRS tax form that is used to report payments to independent contractors, the category in which temp workers fall under.

Correctly using this form continues to be a big issue in the dentistry profession.

To cut costs, many dentists pay hygienists and dental assistants via conditions of the 1099 so they don’t have claim them as employees. For employees, the employers must withhold taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on the wages paid to an employee. If the worker is an independent contractor, employers generally do not have to comply with any of these regulations, which saves the practice time and money.

Because this issue spans across all profession, the IRS developed specific criteria to determine whether or not a person is a true independent contractor. 

The following 20 questions to determine whether you have an independent contractor or an employee working for you (the responses an employer would have for an independent contractor appear in parenthesis following each question).

    1. Are you required to comply with instructions about the details of your job tasks? (No.)
    2. Does the dentist provide you with training specific to his or her practice? (No.)
    3. Are the services you provide integrated into the owners business operation? (No.)
    4. Must the services be rendered by you personally? (No.)
    5. Do you have the capability to hire others to help you perform the services you’re contracted to do? (Yes.)
    6. Is the relationship between you and the business owner a continuing relationship? (No.)
    7. Who sets the hours of work? (You do.)
    8. Are you required to devote your full time to this business? (No.)
    9. Do you perform the work at the place of business of the potential employer? (No.)
    10. Who directs the order or sequence in which you work? (You do.)
    11. Are you required to regularly report your progress to your employer? (No.)
    12. What is the method of payment — hourly, commission or by the job? (A fixed price, a not-to-exceed (NTE), and/or milestone payments are standard for independent contractors.)
    13. Does the client reimburse your business and/or traveling expenses? (No.)
    14. Who furnishes tools and materials used in providing services (You do.)
    15. Do you have a significant investment in facilities used to perform services? (Yes. Key here is “significant.”)
    16. Can you realize both a profit and a loss from your work? (Yes–very important–you must assume risk based on client satisfaction with your work.)
    17. Can you work for a number of dentists at the same time? (Yes.)
    18. Do you make your services available to the general public? (Yes. You should have business cards, stationery, invoices and a business listing in the phone book and/or online.)
    19. Are you subject to dismissal for reasons other than nonperformance of contract specifications? (No.)
    20. Can you terminate your relationship without incurring a liability for failure to complete a job? (No. If you work on a project or milestone basis, you must deliver to receive payment for your efforts.)

What independent contractors should know

While it’s true that 1099s are not required if you are paid less than $600 by the business owner in a year, you should know that $600 is not a magic number and has nothing to do with whether or not you are classified as an independent contractor.

If you are operating as an independent contractor you have to remember you are self-employed and responsible for all tax withholding and payments yourself. Keep on top of these things. Don’t set yourself up for a big surprise and caught at the end of the year with a large tax bill to pay when April 15th rolls around.

For more information on employees vs. independent contractors, visit the IRS website.

DISCLAIMER: This is not intended or offered as legal or professional advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. If you have questions about the status of your staff, please consult with your legal adviser or CPA.

Giving = Learning | Do You Work With A Helper?

It’s been a long day at the office and you’re working on your last patient. You take a deep sigh and run the tasks still left to do through your mind: finish up instruments, chart notes, clean and restock operatory for tomorrow, other miscellaneous duties. As you walk your patient up front to be discharged, you notice your co-worker. Let’s name her Elaine. Elaine is busy in the sterilization area finishing up your instruments before she gathers cleaning supplies and heads to your operatory to clean, restock and gather the trash for you. How do you feel about the end of your day now? Earlier in the day, the business assistant was struggling to catch up on a few follow-up calls with insurance companies. Elaine observed, and without hesitation, offers to sit at the front desk, answer the other line and check patients in and out to help her.

Do you work with a helper like Elaine? If not, I’ll be you wish you did!

Elaine truly cares about her work and the people she works with, and she expects nothing in return for her good deeds. By stepping up, she maintained customer service standards for the practice. Elaine also has a knack with engaging the team in helping. As they say, you lead by example, and her coworkers take notice. Eventually she has the office smiling. The more often employees step up and help each other, the higher the operating efficiency and customer satisfaction, which leads to higher revenue. Helping behaviors play an important role in organizational effectiveness.

As an employer, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the helpers you interview and take this into consideration when making a final decision. Caution: As with all personality types, there are also less healthy versions of The Helper. Unhealthy Helpers can sometimes have a give-in-order-to-get mentality and may be manipulative or over-controlling. I’m sure you have worked with unhealthy helpers, too. Keep your antenna up and recognize the difference.

People who are helpers have an advantage in the work place. Because they step up and help in other roles in the office, helpers gain knowledge. Giving = Learning. Helpers gain skills outside of their job description. Tasks that round out their skills foundation in turn catapult them to a higher level in their careers down the road. With advancement comes more responsibility and an increase in income. Healthy helpers are valuable. Elaine relocated and found herself back in the job market seeking employment. As she updated her resume, she realized all the additional skills gained and realized, with confidence, she is of higher value to her next employer. After only two interviews, a job offer came in. Elaine received a pay rate considerably higher than her previous job because she had more skills going into this one than she did the last.

In many work environments, The Helpers is taken for granted. Take a look around you. If you work with a Helper, remember to say “PLEASE” and “THANK YOU!”

For more information about helpers, check out the links below.

Book Recommendation: Give and Take by Adam Grant

Why You Should Hire a “Helper” Personality 

The Helper – Yellow/Green

Employment Application – How does yours stack up?

I’m going to guess that when a job seeker shows interest in your office, you reach for the same employment application you used last year and the year before that and the year before that. Maybe one of your peers gave you a copy of the one they use in their office, never taking a close look at the actual questions. Maybe you downloaded a boilerplate application online–one that isn’t specific to any profession. When was the last time you took inventory and had your hiring processes and job applications reviewed and updated? With 2018 right around the corner, now’s the time to begin thinking about working on some of your processes and making sure your documents are updated. Below are a few tips that address common errors we’ve found on employment forms to help get you started.

1. Do not have the background check acknowledgment on the employment application. It should be a separate document all to itself.

2. Do not ask for a photograph. Photographs are acquired after applicant accepts offer of employment. If you ask for it with the application, it could be seen as weighting the applicants looks as a qualification for the job.

3. Do not ask for graduation dates in the education section. Particularly if the graduation date has no bearing on the qualifications for the position. It is appropriate to ask questions regarding the experience of the applicant if it is relevant to a job qualification.

4. Do not ask about citizenship. There is a separate form to use for that, a government I9 Form, which the applicant fills out only after they accept your offer. You can however ask if an applicant is legally qualified to work in the United States. You can find the the government I9 Form here: https://www.uscis.gov/system/files_force/files/form/i-9-paper-version.pdf

5. Do not leave out a non-discrimination statement. You want to be sure to inform all applicants that the company is an equal opportunity employer.

Be familiar with federal laws and the laws of your state. They will regulate and guide you in this process. You will know what questions to avoid asking an applicant that elicit information that cannot be considered in making a hiring decision.

You can view the laws here: https://www.dol.gov/general/aboutdol/majorlaws

Top 3 Hiring Errors Dental Offices Don’t Know They’re Making

The dental job market is like the ocean. There’s an ebb and flow to it. There are busy seasons where the job market is extremely competitive and swift, and seasons where it appears to be evaporating and dry. This is true for both job seekers and employers. When you are hiring, it’s important to know what season in which the dental industry is in your area. At Dental Temps Professional Services, we have witnessed many hiring errors throughout the seasons over the years. Sharing the top three with you may help you to assess your own hiring practices and inspire you to make changes in order to keep your hiring costs under control, while ensuring that you find a great fit for your open position.

Top 3 Hiring Errors:

1. Not Offering Competitive Wages – Offering wages for the position that are below the average in your job market is a big mistake and time waster. If your goal is to find the best-qualified and most-experienced candidate for the lowest salary possible, you are wasting your time and money.

Example: an experienced front office candidate who is able to walk in without training, is proficient on your dental office software and has a working knowledge of all front office duties—including insurance knowledge—and is currently making $20.00 an hour sits down to interview and is offered $16.00. Yes, this happened recently and prompted me to write this blog. If you think offering a lower salary is going to save you money, the loss in productivity alone could make up for the amount you are trying to save.

The candidate will decline the job and will tell every one she knows in the local dental community about the negative experience, thus wasting an hour or more of your time AND giving you negative press. Know the going rate for the job description in your region.

If you want the best, you need to do what it takes to attract the best. You get what you pay for. The candidates you interview will shout it from the mountaintops that you take great care of your employees. and you’ll have more resumes than you’ll know what to do with. Quality candidates will be attracted to your office.

2. Delays From Interview Time To Making A Hiring Decision – When you take four to six weeks to make a hiring decision, you’ve lost the candidate you were desperately searching for. Dragging out the interview process not only hurts you, it also hurts your staff and your job candidates. I have witnessed a dental office miss out on a wonderful candidate because they took too long to make a decision to hire. The candidate had several job offers, and after a reasonable amount of time, accepted another offer. When the hiring manager finally called the candidate to make an offer, she was upset to learn the candidate accepted another job. The hiring manager found herself returning to the search, which equals time and money.

Your interview process should be dedicated to a few days. That’s two to three days. Having a short interview window allows you to compare candidates easily because you can remember them and quickly compare. When you drag the interview process out you have a harder time making a decision, you can’t remember one interview from the other, and your office is not running a full speed. The bottom line? It’s costing you money.

3. Incomplete or Inaccurate Job Description – Candidates want to know exactly what they are hired to do. When you fail to inform the candidate of their job description, you hire them, and six months down the road they are giving you their two weeks’ notice because the job is not what they expected. You’re now back to square one, and have lost both time and money.

Example: If you hire a dental assistant and require them to also work at the front desk, have it noted in the job description when you post the job. More often than not, candidates who learn what the job entails and are not suited for the position will not apply. The dental assistant who knows she is not suited for the front desk and has no desire to work at the front desk will not apply for the job. On the other hand, a dental assistant who has front office skills and enjoys the flow of work from clinical to front office will jump at the opportunity to apply. If you want to hire the right person with the right skills and mindset for the job, have a brief job description with key points in the ad you’re recruiting with and give them a copy of the job description in more detail–in writing–at the interview.

Take a look at your hiring practices, keep up-to-date with the salary within the standards for your region, focus the interview without dragging out the process, and have a written job description for the position you are hiring for. These three tips will help keep hiring costs low and ensure you find a good fit for your open position no matter what season the industry is in.

Things to Consider as 2017 Closes – Employee Handbooks Edition

January 1, 2018 will be here before we know it! I don’t know about you, but as I become another year older, I am more aware that time sure does fly! Looking ahead to the New Year, it’s a great idea to take an assessment of your employee handbook. While managing your office, you may have made notes over the past year of situations that occurred and should be addressed to manage employees more effectively and efficiently in the future. Find all those notes because it’s time to take action. There are many new state and federal laws, and it’s important to spend time updating your handbook to reflect those laws in real time. You may also want to keep in touch with human resource organizations and sign up for their alerts so you’re always up-to-date with new laws and can act accordingly.

Consider the following:

Employer Size – Did your company grow this year? Some laws are tiered and apply differently for small and large businesses. Be sure to check your headcount against compliance obligations to be sure there have not been any changes, as this change may affect you.

Weapons Policies – Many states give concealed-carry holders the right to keep guns in their locked cars, but some employer policies say no weapons are allowed anywhere on the premises, which includes parking lots. Know your state laws and be sure your statement about weapons is reflected in your employee handbook and that it is not too broad.

Reporting Violations – Regarding government agencies, make sure your handbook does not discourage your employees from reporting potential legal violations. OSHA would be one of those agencies you’ll want to become familiar with. On December 1, 2016, they began enforcing new anti-retaliation provisions stating employers can’t retaliate against employees for reporting a workplace injury.

Social Media Policy Regarding Recording and Documentation of Issues in the Workplace – Cell phones are everywhere and sharing audio and/or video recordings on social media is becoming an increasingly popular way to share information about goings on. Address having a policy for recording and posting about situations that occur in the workplace, and include a statement about requesting permission before employees post about your office, whether the post is expressing positive or negative instances,

Take a close look at your policies while keeping the above suggestions in mind. From National Labor Relations Board decisions to local paid and sick-leave laws, you’ll want to keep up with all of the current changes. Remember, if you enjoy being chair side and doing what you love, and you take pride in correctly running your workplace, reach out for help and hire a firm to assist you with this area of managing your business.

Below are some links to help you get started with keeping up-to-date.

National Labor Relations board 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration 

Bent Ericksen 

Society for Human Resource Management