Dentist Employment Agreement (Bonus REPAYMENT?)
Does a dentist have to repay bonuses if they leave early? It depends on your employment agreement, as each is unique. However, there’s always some forgiveness period when an employer offers a bonus to a dentist in an employment agreement, plus the professional benefits. And it’s generally between one to two years. If you terminate the employment agreement within that period, you would likely have to pay back any bonuses you receive. There are typically two types of bonuses that we’re talking about here. The first one is a relocation bonus or relocation allowance. It can be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on where you’re moving from.
Relocation Bonus as Part of Dentist Employee Contract
And this bonus is used for moving expenses just to get there and settle your household before you start with your practice. And then the second bonus typically offered in a dental employment agreement is a signing bonus, which can generally be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. You sign the contract and are sometimes given those funds upon signing. Other times, you’re given half at the time of signing and half when you commence your employment with the practice. Those are usually the two types of bonuses we’re talking about here when we mean paying them back. The paybacks are normally structured in one of two variations. The first one is simple if you terminate the contract within a specific period, you must pay back the total amount.
2 Ways Bonuses are Structured
Now, you should consider this when signing, especially if it’s a bonus that is an income, and you are taxed on that amount. So, you rarely receive the total amount listed because part of it the hospital has taken out for taxes. However, when most contracts say that you have to pay back the entire amount, they’re not accounting for the taxes already removed from that account. You could be paying back more than you received. So, that’s something you want to consider upon signing your employment agreement.
The second way it’s structured is prorated. It means for how long you’ve been there. They forgive that amount. Let me give you an example. If the forgiveness period for the bonus is two years and you terminate your contract or employment agreement after one year, and it’s prorated, then you only have to pay back 50% of that amount.
There is Almost Always Strings Attached, So Always Clarify Things With Your Employer
Bonuses are very attractive whenever you receive an offer, and it’s exciting. They’re a large amount of money. You’re getting them paid upon signing or upon starting employment. But you want to consider and read your employment agreement very carefully because you don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what will happen in the future. So, if you get somewhere and feel like it’s not a good fit and want to leave for personal reasons or family reasons, you need to terminate your agreement. There could be severe financial repercussions to accepting those bonuses. So again, always read your employment agreement and ancillary benefits offered. If they offer you a bonus, double-check because there’s likely some forgiveness period or payback provision, and you want to make sure you fully understand that before you sign the document.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Red Flags in a Dentist Employment Contract
- How Much Should a Dentist get for CE Expenses?
- What Should a Dentist Put in a Termination Letter?
Should a Dentist be Reimbursed for Moving Expenses? | Dentists Moving Expenses
Should a dentist receive relocation expenses and reimbursement? The short answer is yes. Industry standards usually dictate that this is common in employment agreements for dentists. However, it does depend on where you’re moving from. Is this a short distance, or are you moving out of state or across the country? Typically, you must be moving a far distance to the practice for them to offer this to you. They’re also structured in a couple of different ways. The most common way it’s structured in a dental employment agreement is it’s normally listed as a relocation allowance within the offered professional benefits. It’s just a flat amount. I’ve seen it range anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 and what will happen is upon signing the agreement, typically, they will give you that allowance.
Moving Reimbursement Tax Implications
And it’s just given to you in that flat amount. Now, when that happens, it is usually taxed as income. So, you don’t receive the total 5,000 to 10,000. That’s something to consider upon signing. And then sometimes you must give receipts to the practice showing that you used it for relocation expenses. Other times, that requirement is absent from the agreement.
The second way it’s typically structured is that the practice will directly pay the companies for moving expenses. You will let the practice know what sort of moving company you will use. And then, they will reach out and pay them directly. There could be a cap on that amount. And again, it’s generally between 5,000 to 10,000 in dental contracts. You want to look out for whenever you receive a relocation allowance or reimbursement. There’s usually a payback provision or time you have to work for the practice to get that amount forgiven.
Typically, it’s anywhere from one to three years; three years is a little long. And usually try to advocate for our clients for one to two years. You will work for the dental practice for one to two years, and then they will forgive that amount they gave you initially for your relocation expenses. You want to read your agreement very carefully. Sometimes, these provisions are stringent, and if you terminate the contract for any reason within that specific period, you have to pay back the entire bonus or allowance.
To Employees: Always Read Your Contracts Before Signing
And the problem with this is when you receive the bonus, they will take taxes out of it if it’s considered income. But you’re going to pay back the total amount. So again, you want to be careful. A better and more prevalent way it’s structured is by prorating it for how long you’ve worked there. Let’s say that the forgiveness period is two years, and you work for one year at the practice and decide to leave. Therefore, you’d only have to pay back 50% of those relocation allowances or reimbursements. So, always want to read your employment agreement first. See how those relocation expenses are structured. It is common to receive an offer if you’re moving to the practice from a long distance. Time off is another consideration when determining whether a contract offers standard benefits for a dental professional.
How Much Time Off Should a Dental Associate Get? | Dentist Days Off
What is a reasonable amount of time off for a dental associate? Most places refer to it as PTO or paid time off. And then that encompasses several things. For almost any kind of time off, you have four factors. One is just personal time off vacation, two would be sick days, three would be holidays, and the fourth would be continuing education. And once we lump all of those into one, we can determine whether it’s reasonable. First, let’s take personal days off. Most of the time, a dentist or associate dentist will get somewhere between 10 to 15 time off vacation days. If you are a newer dental associate out of training, I’ve seen them go down to five. It’s too low. It’s not enough time.
What Does Your Employment Agreement Say About Compensation?
Now, you always have to judge what type of compensation model you’re on versus the time off. For instance, if you’re just on a straight-based salary or in the dental industry, they’ll do a daily rate a lot of time. Then if you’re not working, you’re not making money if it’s a daily rate. You’ll still get paid for the time off if it’s a straight-based salary. If you’re on a productivity compensation model, the less you work, the less money you’ll make. So, even though they may offer you 25 days off, taking that more time off doesn’t make sense if your compensation decreases—just one thing to keep in mind. Somewhere between 10 to 15 days of vacation time is standard.
How Much Time Off for Sick Days, Continuing Education, and Holidays?
As far as sick days go, this is the only thing that’s state-dependent. Some states have laws that require a certain number of days off if they are a full-time employee. For others, it’s more open and open to the employer. Usually, three days, sometimes 5 is a reasonable amount for sick days. CE, once again, somewhere between 3 to 5 days for continuing education. They should also provide you with a sum that goes towards that. Usually, somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000, so another three to five days for continuing education and then holidays. Many dental offices, somewhere between 6 to 7 federal holidays. Let’s add it all up.
You get ten days of vacation time and seven federal holidays, so it’s 17. You get 3 CE, that’s 20, and then you get another 3 for sick days. That’s 23. I would say that’s a little on the low side. It would be best if you were aiming for the total amount between 28 to 32 days of whole time off. So, when you add up all those things, it should be somewhere there. If you’re getting a job offer that’s significantly less than that, maybe like a total time off of 10 days or 15, it’s deficient. Is there negotiating? Indeed, there’s usually negotiating during vacation time, sick days, holidays, and CEs. Maybe the CE, you can add a day or two, but the vacation part is kind of where you want to consider.
Dental Employee Pure Paid Time Off
Some places use pure PTO, meaning everything goes into one box, and any time off you take, it takes it out of that. What I mean by that is, let’s say the employer allows you to accrue eight hours of time off every pay period. Well, anytime you’re out, no matter what, they take time off that you’ve accrued. So, it doesn’t matter what the breakdown is between the four sections. It’s just, okay, you get 25 days off, you can do whatever you want with them. I think that might be more likely for some of the larger corporate-owned practices. Finding a private dentist-owned practice that uses a pure PTO system is rare. They usually break it down into sections.
Red Flags to Look Out For in Employment Contract of Dentists
What are some red flags if they’re offering very little time off? Well, one, they may not understand the market, and it’s probably your job to educate them. Two, they’re completely unwilling to negotiate when they offer you an unreasonable and low amount of time off. They’re entirely reluctant to negotiate. It might be a red flag that they will be challenging to work with, or maybe they don’t appreciate a work-life balance.
I would look long and hard if someone is taking a hard stance about not giving you more time off hours and the reason behind that. So, that’s kind of, I guess, a breakdown of an average amount of time off for a dentist and dental associate. If you own your practice or are a partner, it’s really up to you how much time off you want. But as a dental associate, somewhere between 20 to 32 days of total time off would be your goal.
What Expenses Should a Dental Practice Pay For a Dentist?
Should an employer pay for business expenses for the dentist? This can vary greatly. It kind of depends on the makeup of the practice. Sometimes, if it’s a smaller dental practice, the employer will pay for fewer business expenses. A corporation does not always but sometimes will pay for more. It kind of just depends on what the makeup is. Sometimes, the business expenses are standardized. All dentists that are employed there get the same. Other times, this is something that you and they can negotiate.
What are the Main Business Expenses?
Let’s go over the list of the main business expenses the employer will pay. I would say the most common one is continuing education.
Every dentist needs to continue their education to maintain their certification and license. An employer will typically give you an annual allowance. I would say industry standards are anywhere between 2,000 to 5,000. They say we’ll give you $2,000 to $5,000 a year. You can use this towards continuing education.
Sometimes, this will include conferences which would include travel expenses. Sometimes, it has to be approved directly by them, but normally, it’s just an allowance. They give you a specified amount of money annually. You can use that because you will need it to continue your education to keep up with your licensing requirements. It’s also known and sometimes stated in contracts as CEs or continuing education.
You might also get CE days paid time off to attend those conferences that that allowance is providing for. Sometimes though, dental contracts have unpaid time off. If you have unpaid time off, it’s not likely that this is something that would be provided to you. However, if you are granted PTO time, you will likely be granted specific days to attend those CEs. The most common one, continuing education, is because everybody has to do it. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep your license. So, it’s very important.
The second one I will discuss is your licensing fees with your state board. This is very common that it is provided for or reimbursed. These expenses would be in addition to paid time off. It’s typically structured in two different ways. They might give you a different allowance for licensing in dues, or they just say, go ahead and apply for your license, pay for it. We will reimburse you. It depends on the agreement. So, you have to read your contract to know which way it’s structured. But your licensing fees would likely be covered if you’re moving to a new state and need an initial license. If you need a renewal, that would likely be covered, but you want to ensure it in your agreement.
The next one is a DEA license. It depends if you are prescribing controlled substances within your practice, which dentists may or may not. You will need a DEA license. Those are expensive, and they just keep going up. That is another expense that you would want your employer to cover.
And you would also want them to cover the renewals. And then lastly, any sort of professional organization because, again, that’s important. You can get continuing education through that. It’s good for networking and keeping up your skills. That’s also something that would be covered.
Malpractice Insurance, Cell Phone Expenses, and Travel Expenses
Another one in dental contracts would be dental malpractice insurance. Either the practice will add you to their policy and pay your premiums, or they will reimburse you. And then the last two are kind of unique, but I do see them on some contracts. Cell phone expenses. They may reimburse you or provide you with a cell phone for communication and travel. If you’re going to multiple locations, they may reimburse you for mileage or even provide you with a vehicle, but that’s rare. It’s that they would just reimburse you for mileage and travel expenses.
So, those are the typical ones. I would say that dental agreements greatly vary because the dental practices and their makeups vary. You could see all of these on a contract; you could see none of them, which I would try if I were you to negotiate for some of them because these are things that can add up. You want to advocate for yourself to get these costs or reimbursements included in your employment agreements.
Can an Employer Make a Dentist Pay Back a Signing Bonus? | Signing Bonuses
One question we frequently get from employers is, can they make a dentist payback signing bonus? And the short answer is yes. Typically, they can do that in one of the three ways. The first way is when you’re drafting the agreement. You would include a payback provision stating that if the dentist were to terminate the employment agreement within 12 to 24 months, they would pay back the entire signing bonus. The second way to do that is, if a physician were to terminate the agreement within 12 to 24 months, they would pay back the signing bonus on a prorated share. For how long they’ve been, you would take that into account. So, they wouldn’t be paying you back the full bonus.
And then lastly, it’s a little rare. Still, sometimes, we can include provisions that state that if the dentist does not give proper notice upon termination of the agreement, typically, it’s 60 to 90 days. They would have to pay back the entire signing bonus.
Dental Contract Questions?
Contract Review, Termination Issues and more!