Avoiding Minefields in the Dental Practice Part 1: HR Trends and Employment Law Updates

Whether you’re running a single practice or a multi-location DSO, being an employer in the dental industry comes with unique risks and challenges. As dental professionals move from handling complex clinical treatments one moment to scheduling staff and bookkeeping the next, it’s easy to overlook important matters like HR practices and employment law.

But as Ali Oromchian explains in his recent webinar, legal compliance is like a minefield that could blow up in your face if you’re not careful. This is especially true with the recent regulatory shift in employment laws due to the pandemic. Whereas before we might expect new regulations in January, now we’re seeing multiple changes throughout the year on the federal, state and local levels.

Staying up to date with these rules and understanding how they impact your practice is crucial to protecting yourself from costly fines and potential lawsuits. To help your practice stay compliant, let’s take a look at some of the current trends and updates dental professionals should be aware of.

Top 3 HR Trends in Dentistry

We’ll start by laying the foundations of your HR priorities with the top three trends we’re seeing in dental employment:

You Hired an Employee… Now What?

When many practices hire new employees, they make a critical mistake by missing important documentation. According to Ali, there are 12-20 new-hire forms you need to have for each team member in your practice. While they vary by state, they generally include:

  • W4 and I9 forms
  • Emergency contact information
  • Arbitration disputes
  • Job descriptions
  • Confidentiality agreements and NDAs
  • Photo and likeness agreements

Without these documents, you could be exposing your practice to potential lawsuits and costly fines down the line.

Working Interviews

Working interviews have become a popular way to see if candidates are qualified for the job, but they’re not always created with compliance in mind. If you’re putting your interviewees to work in any capacity, you’ll need to provide a written interview letter detailing exactly when, where and what they’ll do, how much you’ll pay them, and what their responsibilities are. You’ll also need to take photocopies of all documents and provide payment by the end of the day in case they don’t come back.

Establishing Employment Policies

While employment policies aren’t a legal requirement, they do provide clear expectations for employees, laying the groundwork for effective management. Having these rules in place is also a critical first line of defense against potential lawsuits as they outline employee conduct expectations. Once you establish your practice’s handbook, you must lead by example, following the rules objectively and without discrimination.

Employment Law Updates for 2023

In legal news, there have been a plethora of regulatory updates this year, with many setting trends in employment law for the foreseeable future. Here are some of the most significant changes, according to Ali:

Minimum Wage

Most dental practices pay more than minimum wage, so regulations around it might seem trivial. But if anyone receives a salary and is exempt from overtime, lunches and breaks, you need to ensure you’re paying at least double the minimum wage to keep them exempt.

Updates to Notices

  • Arizona, Maryland and New Jersey now have data breach notification laws.
  • California also requires employee notifications for any citations your business receives.

Hiring and Onboarding

  • Some states now require a written pre-contract work disclosure for independent contractors.
  • Employers are no longer allowed to ask about age in job applications.
  • New York City bans some agencies from using automated tools for sorting hiring applications.
  • Tennessee is taking the lead on states requiring e-verification requirements.

Job Postings

New York, California and Washington now require employers to list pay ranges in job descriptions.

Noncompete Agreements

Many states are drafting laws that prohibit employers from requiring an employee to sign a non-compete agreement.

Equal Employment Opportunity

There have been a lot of updates around the country surrounding discrimination laws, emergency leave, sexual harassment and accommodations for disabilities.

Wages and Hours

Wages and hours are experiencing some of the biggest changes around the country. As more employees work from home, we’re seeing changes in terms of the flexibility and predictability of work arrangements. There have also been changes to:

  • Overtime, meal breaks and rest periods
  • Pay transparency in job descriptions
  • Direct deposit requirements for employees
  • Payroll card and unclaimed wages laws
  • Final wage payments
  • Pay equity laws

Health and Safety

  • Firearm laws are also changing. In some states, it’s a crime to carry a firearm onto private property without the owner’s permission, while many still prohibit concealed carry without a license or permit.
  • Employers are also required to provide leave time to victims of domestic violence.
  • Unless it’s a company car used for work-related purposes, employers are not allowed to place tracking devices on vehicles that employees use.

Family Leave

There are significant changes to family leave laws—from the time employees can take off, to timelines on when an employer must approve or deny the leave—in Washington, D.C. and several states, including:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington

There have also been expansions to the definition of bereavement leave, which now includes grandparents and other close family members outside of your immediate family.


The pandemic highlighted the fact that many people aren’t prepared for emergencies, so many states now require state-sponsored and 401(k) retirement plans.

Workers’ Compensation

Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Ohio have updated rules regarding when and to whom employees should report work-related injuries.

Security and Privacy

Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington are rolling out biometric privacy laws which ban employers from forcing staff to use fingerprint or eye scans.

Keep Up With the Latest in HR and Employment Law

Staying compliant is no easy feat for any dental practice. Between regulatory shifts and evolving HR trends, it can be difficult to keep up with the changing landscape. Still, understanding how these factors impact your practice is essential to avoid the minefields of employment law.

Watch the full webinar with Ali Oromchian, Esq. to learn more about the current trends impacting the dental industry and stay tuned for the next blog  in the series, where we’ll cover ways to stay compliant.

If you are interested in seeking advice from Ali Oromchian, Esq. regarding your dental practice or any other dental legal matters, you can easily reach out to him for a complimentary consultation. You can visit his website and fill out a contact form or call during weekly hours at 925-999-8200. Mr. Oromchian and his experienced, legal team are dedicated to helping dental professionals like you achieve their career goals. After all, they've done it thousands of times!