PDC 2017 Recap: Erin and Heidi Teach Dentists to Root Out Workplace Problems

By Erin Brandt.

Dentists are (sometimes) employers too.

With that in mind, Heidi Eaves (from Project House Business Solutions) and I recently spoke to dental professionals at Vancouver’s 2017 Pacific Dental Conference about creating healthy, engaging and legally compliant workplaces.

The discussion – which led to an informal Q&A lasting another hour after the formal session ended – was wide-ranging and covered:

  • How to dismiss employees in a respectful way.
  • The importance of written employment agreements and well-drafted severance clauses.
  • The need to have comprehensive policy manuals in place and diligently manage performance issues.
  • “Getting your house in order” before selling your practice (i.e. making sure those agreements and manuals are valid and enforceable).
  • What to look out for when buying a practice, e.g. businesses with limited employee/HR records, long-serving employees who are not subject to a valid written termination clause.

In addition to covering the above, Heidi and I facilitated in-depth conversations about two areas of interest to the dentists and hygienists present:

  1. Reasonable notice / common law damages owed on termination. That is, how much notice or severance is an employee entitled to on dismissal if he or she is not subject to a written termination clause in their employment contract. This issue was particularly relevant to those employers who had long-serving employees working for them. To learn more about reasonable notice and wrongful dismissal damages, read my colleague Samantha Stepney’s recent blog post on this topic here.
  2. Human rights and the duty to accommodate. We provided an overview of the BC Human Rights Code and how it protects employees from discrimination on various grounds (including mental disability which can include addiction issues), and educated participants about an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s disability, within certain limits. An employer may only discriminate against an employee if he/she can show that the discrimination is due to a “bona fide occupational requirement” or that accommodating the employee’s needs would cause the employer “undue hardship”. For more on human rights and this duty generally, visit our blog.

While, generally speaking, all BC companies are subject to the same employment laws, there are some workplace issues that are unique to small businesses (as most dental practices are). If you are a dentist with questions about your role and responsibilities as an employer, we can help. Contact Erin today to find out how.


NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on the Kent Employment Law website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action, based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. One of our lawyers would be pleased to discuss any specific legal concerns you may have.