What’s the right way to pay your hygienists?

What’s the right way to pay your hygienists? And how are we STILL talking about this after all these years? Because it’s confusing…that’s why! Let’s start from the top. Are these statements true or false? It is okay to pay your hygienists on a daily rate? It is okay to pay your hygienists per patient? You’re probably hoping the answer is “true” to both statements, because often dentists pay their hygienists a daily rate. I’ll put your mind somewhat at ease and tell you, TRUE, you can pay your hygienists a daily rate BUT…it’s not quite that simple. Someone got the idea that hygienists are their own separate class and are exempt from certain rights that other employees have. (Remember that word “exempt,” because we’re going to come back to it.) Those with financial knowledge about dentistry know that hygienists probably are the most expensive employee, and If they aren’t producing, you aren’t making money. So why not fill their schedule to the brim, only pay them if they see patients, and work them 9-10 hours a day???? Because hygienists are NON-EXEMPT! We hear the labels of exempt vs. non-exempt all the time. What do they REALLY mean for your hygienists? It means that the only way you can classify your hygienists as exempt is if they satisfy each one of the following criteria:
  1. Your hygienist is making no less than twice the minimum wage on a salary basis.
  2. Your hygienist’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment
  3. Their advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning, and
  4. Their advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
Let’s look at number 4 one more time. This “prolonged course” is satisfied if, and only if, your hygienist successfully completed four years of pre-professional and professional study in an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Dental and Dental Auxiliary Educational Programs of the American Dental Association. So, now that we have determined that your hygienists are most likely NOT exempt, why does this matter? It matters because any employee who is classified as non-exempt is entitled to overtime and, if applicable in your state, lunches and breaks too.   As a Practice CFO client, you will receive:
  • Free Risk Assessment and Consultation
  • Free Handbook Review and Advisement
  -David Dee, Account Executive, HR for Health
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