What Veterinarian Business Expenses Should an Employer Pay For?
What business expenses should be covered in the veterinary employment contract? There are many things that could be covered, but I’m going to go over the basics and the most common ones we see. The most common one is continuing education. Normally, there is an allowance, so a max amount that you can get reimbursed for, and it’s anywhere from 2.000 to 4,000, depending on how specialized you are and where you are in the country. How much would your practice pay out for that? Continuing education expenses could include books, conferences, and travel expenses to conferences. The list kind of goes on from there, but you are normally given continuing education or CE allowance annually because you must keep up with those in order to keep your license.
So, continuing education is the first one. The second most common likely is your licensing and dues and any type of professional membership, so AVMA membership, there are lots of local memberships that you could join, and sometimes they’re spelled out exactly which memberships your veterinary clinic or practice will pay for. And sometimes they leave that discretion to you. It’s very important that you read your agreement so that you know what sort of business expenses, and you know exactly what is going to be reimbursed. So, membership should absolutely be included, dues and licensing fees, so your state veterinary license and your renewals are important if you’re licensed in more than one state. Occasionally, both of those would be covered. You may need a DEA license and those can get expensive.
If you do, then that would be covered as well under your reimbursement. Now, sometimes these are capped at a certain amount. Sometimes they’re grouped in with your CE allowance. They’ll just say like 4,000 for all those ancillary or business expenses. It just depends on your agreement, but they should be listed there. And it depends on how they’re paid out, but they should be reimbursed in some way because you’re not getting any sort of tax incentives if you are paying those out and they do add up in their annual fees.
So, over time, that’s a lot of money coming out of your pocket. Another thing that’s common is relocation expenses. If you’re moving to a clinic or a practice from out of state or cross country, typically, you will be granted some type of relocation allowance or reimbursement, and that’s anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Again, it’s structured differently, depending on if you’re joining more of a corporate practice or private. Sometimes they have to reimburse the companies directly for your moving expenses. Other times they’ll just give it to you in a large amount and just expect that it goes towards relocation expenses. If they structure it more like a bonus, it is taxed as income.
Negotiate Benefits with the Practice
So, just be aware of that if it says $10,000 for relocation expenses paid out in one lump sum, you won’t be getting that full 10,000 because taxes will come off the top before you receive that. That’s just something you need to keep in mind. And then I would say almost always malpractice insurance is covered. And as you know, it’s normally through the AVMA and that’s also either reimbursed or they will go ahead and take out the policy in your name. So, this is kind of a rundown of the typical business expenses. Some veterinarians do travel a lot, so travel expenses are typically covered if you’re mobile and this can even mean providing you with a vehicle or giving you some type of maintenance fees, reimbursements, gas, something like that.
If you’re mobile, you’re typically granted some type of cell phone reimbursement because that’s going to be important. You’re going to need that in order to provide those services. So, that’s just kind of a rundown of the typical business expenses that are included in a veterinary contract for employment. Another consideration is how much Paid Time Off (PTO) a vet should get per year.
Written Employment Agreement and Relocation Expenses
Should a veterinarian be reimbursed for relocation expenses? And the answer to this is yes, you should be reimbursed by your employer. You might be moving across the state, out of state, across the country, or wherever it may be from, if it’s a reasonable distance, your employer should provide you with some type of relocation reimbursement. It’s typically structured in one of three ways in your employment contract. So, you should read it carefully to know what steps you need to take to receive that reimbursement. The first way and I would say the most common way is it’s almost structured as a bonus. Sometimes they call it a relocation allowance, or relocation bonus, and they will just give you a flat fee upfront anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000.
The important thing to remember is that if it’s structured this way as a bonus, it would be considered income and therefore, your taxes will be taken off the top. So, you won’t be receiving that full amount. Whatever it is, if it’s structured as a bonus, just keep in mind you will have taxes taken off from that amount before you receive it. But once you receive those funds, then you can use them however you like, if it’s reasonable for relocation. The next way I typically see it structured is you provide your employer with receipts of anything that has to do with reasonable relocation or moving expenses, and then they will reimburse you directly. It’s typical. There’s normally a max of how much they will reimburse. And again, it’s normally between 10 to 20,000.
And then, you don’t have to get prior approval, you just need to give your receipts. And then the third way is probably the least common I’ve seen in veterinary employment contracts, but that’s where the employer would pay the moving expenses or like the moving companies directly. And most of the time, if it’s that scenario, you do have to get prior approval from the employer that they’ll reimburse those companies. That’s kind of the third way. Again, you have to read your employment agreement to know, do you need prior approval? Is this going to be a lump sum that they’re going to give you and how that’s kind of structured?
And then lastly, I want to discuss, if you are granted relocation, expenses, allowance, reimbursement, or however it’s structured, there’s always some type of payment like a payback provision or forgiveness period. Typically, it’s anywhere between one to three years, you have to work for this practice or clinic. But if you terminate your employment with them before the end of that time, you will either have to pay back the full amount of relocation expenses that they’ve reimbursed or given you or sometimes they’ll prorate it per month of your employment. Let’s just say, for example, you must work for the company for three years. If you terminate your employment with them before the three years, it’s prorated. So, if you work for one and a half years, and terminate your agreement, then you’ll likely have to pay back half of those expenses or allowance. So again, you want to keep that in mind. Whenever you sign these contract agreements, you’re looking to the future. You’re going to be able to fulfill this contract because if you’re not, you really want to seriously consider taking that amount of money at the beginning.
Corporate Dental Pros and Cons
What are the pros and cons of a veterinarian working in more of a corporate clinic setting? When working for a corporation, there are a lot of pros, starting with the benefits that are typically offered such as health insurance, retirement, disability, life insurance, sometimes travel, and cell phones. The list just kind of goes on from there. There are more benefits that are going to be offered to you in a more corporate clinic. Also, the facilities typically are more standardized. If there’s more than one location that you’re going to be providing services at, normally, they’re standard between the locations. And then also support staff. Normally, you’re fully staffed with the people that you need and the equipment within the facilities.
So, this is great. You’ve got benefits, the facilities are great. Sometimes the pay can be more in a corporate setting, I would say often, you are typically compensated more. Those are just kind of the pros depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for benefits, you’re looking for things that are more standardized policies, also with admin, then that’s considered a pro for a corporate clinic. Some cons that you want to kind of think about are you’re normally not able to negotiate quite as much in an employment contract. When you’re initially starting your employment with them, it’s typically offered the same sort of agreement for all the other veterinarians that are similarly situated. Also, you want to think about your compensation.
That is one thing that you can sometimes negotiate in a corporate clinic. Some other cons and probably the biggest one, well, I would say there are probably two. One, there’s normally a lot of expectations for how many clients you’re going to be seeing in their animals per day, there are quotas, there are maximums, there are minimums of expectations that you must meet. And if you’re not meeting those, there are consequences to those. That’s something that you want to consider if that’s something that you feel up to. I would say another con is normally the non-compete clauses. They are extensive. There’s going to probably be multiple locations, large miles from each location that you’re going to be restricted.
And then normally, for an extended period, the biggest con of a corporate clinic is those non-compete clauses. Because those can really come back to by EO. Going back to the pros, I would say another pro would probably be just marketing and advertising. They’re marketing and advertising on your behalf. They’re bringing in tons of clients and their pets, so there’s really no worry that you’re going to have that client base there. It’s easy to build up because you have them supporting you in this sort of setting. If you have any more questions or you’d like to discuss these sorts of situations, you can schedule a consultation with us.
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