Dental Independent Contractor Agreements Are Increasingly Common in the Dental Profession
Dental offices are commonly staffed by a variety of individuals with various types of formal employment agreements. It is not uncommon that some of those agreements are what are known as independent contractor agreements. So, what are these agreements? How are they structured? Are they a good deal for employees? Employers? We will tackle all of these questions and more. If you have further questions or need, please don’t hesitate to contact Chelle Law’s dental contract lawyer today.
What is a Dental Independent Contractor Agreement?
An independent contractor agreement is a formal legal agreement between an employer and an individual who will contract with that employer. Note, that this agreement does NOT establish the new worker as an employee, and that is an important distinction with these agreements. An IC will also likely not be provided any professional benefits.
The purpose of having a worker sign an independent contractor agreement instead of a formal agreement is to create a working relationship between the employer (the dental office) and the contractor (the worker) that does NOT bestow the rights or responsibilities of employment on the contractor. In layman’s terms, this means that the contractor is permitted to have other clients/jobs and that they can split their time between various dental offices if they choose to do so.
How Are These Agreements Structured?
The contractor agrees to a certain rate of pay and to meet basic standards of decorum in the office, but they are not chained down to a specific office if they don’t want to be.
On the other hand, they are also not granted some of the privileges that they would receive if they did have a formal employment agreement with this office. Primarily, they are not entitled to employment benefits such as health insurance. This is a major trade-off for the worker, and it is something that they should ponder very carefully. They will have increased flexibility to take on multiple roles as they choose, but they will also have to consider that they may lack some of the stability that comes with holding a single job with benefits.
Do Workers Benefit from Independent Contractor Agreements?
Yes and no. Workers can benefit from independent contractor agreements if they are highly flexible individuals who are willing to work for multiple places at the same time to cobble together an income. However, they suffer if they don’t have this flexibility.
Younger workers who don’t have children or other commitments that they have to attend to stand to gain the most from independent contractor agreements. Often, these younger workers are familiar with the use of independent contractor agreements anyway as they have grown up with the concept being used by multiple companies.
A few things to consider about independent contractor agreements include:
- Tax is NOT Withheld – Employers are NOT required to withhold taxes on the wages that they pay to their independent contractors. These workers are classified differently for tax purposes, and they are expected to keep up with their withholding on their own. Thus, anyone who finds themselves classified as an independent contractor needs to understand that they are responsible for taking care of their own tax burden. That is very important to know before getting a big tax bill come April.
- Independent Contractors may Work Elsewhere – Those who are independent contractors have the right and the flexibility to work elsewhere at the same time if they wish to do so. They cannot be made to sign a non-compete clause because they are not actually employees of any particular office. They can be thought of as free agents who get to work for whomever they please.
- They Don’t Receive Guaranteed Hours – Employees of a dental office (or any office for that matter) can reliably count on receiving a schedule and a certain amount of hours each week that they can count on. However, this is just not the case when it comes to independent contractors. They are not made those same promises, and they may have to scramble to come up with the hours that they need in a given time period to make their money.
Do Employers Come Out Well With Independent Contractor Agreements?
Employers are increasingly leaning on independent contractors to staff their offices because these agreements take many obligations off of their shoulders. Avoiding paying benefits and providing rock-solid stability to a given worker frees them up to fill the gaps in work that they need to have done, without too much commitment.
There are companies that are basing their entire workforce on the independent contractor model these days. DoorDash, the food delivery service, is a great example of this. Instead of recruiting full-time drivers as employees, the company hires millions of independent contractors to get the work done. The job is a fulfillment job in which the driver picks up food orders and delivers them to their intended destination. The driver is paid a small sum for the service that they have provided, and the company keeps its customers happy. At the same time, drivers for this service are more than welcome to drive as much or as little as they want, and they can also drive for competing services if they wish to do so as well.
When it comes to dental offices, the need to fulfill certain workloads is best handled by independent contractors as well. They draw up an independent contractor dentist contract because they need extra help and assistance in the office during particular times of the year. When business picks up dramatically, it is nice to have some extra sets of hands around to help out with the extra workload.
Can a Dentist Really be an Independent Contractor Forever?
Courts have ruled that dentists can be classified as independent contractors indefinitely if those are the terms that they agree to. There is no expectation that a particular dental office will be required to hire them on full-time.
Much of the public thinks that independent contractors are only those who work on the lower end of the wage scale, but that is just not the case. Those are the IC jobs that we tend to hear about the most in the news, but there are plenty of dentists who are working on an independent contractor basis as well these days. They may choose to do so to add flexibility to their life, or they may feel that they have no choice as the industry continues to move in that direction. Either way, if they sign an independent contractor dentist contract, it will be upheld in the courts. Those who have concerns about the agreement that they have signed, or about an agreement that’s been presented to them, should reach out to a dental contract lawyer today.
For more information on the rapidly changing nature of the dentist profession, please contact us with your questions.
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