Is Your Office Manager also the HR Department?

By: Katrina Winch, VP of Dental Group Operations

In the past, job descriptions of the Dental Office Manager didn’t include much in the way of management of Human Resources.  The dentist was usually the one who interviewed and kept the records of all employees.  Now that practices are evolving beyond the typical solo practice to group practices,  the need for a professional Human Resources  manager is becoming more necessary. It is important that the Office Manager understand at least the basics of HR.

Basic HR functions include keeping good records in accordance to state law and privacy laws.  If you have 10 employees and under the challenge can usually be managed by a trained dental office manager.  If there just isn’t enough time to do it correctly consider outsourcing some or all of the duties. The following list of four main areas must be addressed in your practice.

  1.   Employment Regulations Law.

Dentists and their Office Managers must be educated in the laws that affect their practice both by state and federal law.

  1.   Ensure that Employee Files are orderly and private.

Keep employee files organized and confidential especially sensitive private information like medical records, payroll records and personal leave requests.  Be compliant in the keeping of I-9 forms and documentation, resumes and the job listing that the employee responded to, written job application, performance reviews and employee notices.

  1. Paychecks on Time

Consistent payroll systems must be in place to insure paychecks on a consistent basis, at the same time each period.  Track hours electronically so that there is accuracy from a professional third party. Timesheets can help keep track of vacations and sick time, and there are several online management programs or within the practice software program that help you stay organized.

  1.  Have an Employee Policy Manual prepared by an expert who knows your state law laws or draw one up and then have your attorney review it for compliance to state laws.

An employee manual explains a dental practice’s policies and procedures, and communicates expectations to employees. It also helps protect the practice in the event of a dispute.

A full service Human Resources management company may be too much as far as the costs but perhaps outsourcing some of the time-consuming parts of the process that require a professional protocol.

Some human resource duties to outsource and save money:

  1. Payroll company. (calculates each employee’s salaries by hours and benefits and pay taxes on time)
  2. Temporary and permanent staffing/recruiting company (local by state and area-referral from the state dental society)
  3. Professional Employee Policy Manual:  Check with your liability insurance carrier and the ADA also has a basic (fill in the blanks) format.

This is an important function for practice success and for practice legal protection and should never be taken lightly.

eAssist Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #115


  • All I can say is Amen! We have grown from a half dozen to about 15 in the past two years–and I am more than grateful for employing a dental-specific HR firm to guide me through all the complexities, especially here in California. The only thing I would add is that in doing so, nothing got faster, or easier, or more streamlined. It did get more complete and more accurate and more protective of the practice.

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