Understanding an employment contract before you join a dental practice can be intimidating.
Contracts can be long, the terms can be hard to understand and it may be the fi rst one you’ve ever seen. The ADA publication, “Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions,” outlines a number of aspects to look out for in a contract and some key ideas to keep in mind before signing. This online publication is free to members and available for download at Success.ADA.org by searching for the title.
Here are 10 areas to keep an eye out for to make sure you understand what you’re signing:
Employee duties: Pay attention to what is outlined in the contract as far as your duties as a dentist. This provision establishes the job responsibilities and, if breached, could become grounds for termination or a contractual dispute.
Compensation: Understand how you will be paid, how often and whether you’re eligible for commissions or bonuses.
Benefits: Make sure you’re OK with what’s being offered in terms of vacation time, health and life insurance, retirement plan and other fringe benefits.
Term: Check to see the duration of your employment under the contract. Consider what happens if your term expires.
Termination: Understand whether you can be fired without cause.
Malpractice insurance: Check to see if your employer provides dental professional liability insurance or if you have
to purchase it. If the employer purchases it, understand the amount and type of coverage provided.
Noncompete clause: If you’re terminated, this may prevent you from practicing dentistry in a certain geographic area for a specific time period.
Nonsolicitation of employees and/or patients: This may prevent you from actively soliciting employees and/or patients away from the employer.
Dispute resolution: This establishes the process for resolving disputes between you and the owner dentist, should they arise. It’s important to understand if you would be relinquishing basic and important rights, such as the right to a jury trial, if an issue arises that can’t be resolved.
Liquidated damages: This stipulates how much money you would have to pay if you are found to have breached certain provisions the contract.
The ADA advises all dentists to consult with their personal attorneys before signing any contract.