Employees vs. Independent Contractors – The Great Dental Debate

In the dental industry, it has been a long standing, common practice to use “staffing agencies” and then subsequently misclassify those workers as independent contractors…and why not!  Employers have no fiduciary responsibility for the following when hiring contractors:

  • Mandatory lunch and/or work breaks
  • FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) Tax
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Injury Insurance
  • Vacation time
  • Sick leave
  • Insurance(s)
  • Retirement

With all of the cost avoidance’s noted above, it is very enticing, to do so.  Well, fact is, it is illegal. 

Federal law is very clear about what classifies a worker as an independent contractor.  Before classifying an employee, employers should consider the following factors:

  • The individual takes instructions from you or a manager regarding when, where and how work is completed.
  • The individual receives training from your practice, is required to attend meetings and is expected to abide by practice policies.
  • The practice is somewhat dependent on the type of service provided by the individual.
  • The individual must personally perform the contracted services.
  • The practice supplies support staff (FO, DA, RDH…etc.) to assist the individual.
  • The individual provides ongoing services to the practice.
  • The practice determines the individual’s work hours.
  • The expected duration of the relationship is long term.
  • The individual performs the work on practice premises.
  • The practice provides equipment, tools, or other supplies to the individual.
  • The practice has the right to discharge the individual.
  • The individual may terminate his or her services at any time without penalty.

If you ticked any of the boxes above, it is likely that the person you are considering working with, is an employee and not an independent contractor.

Note: one example of a true independent contractor in the dental industry would be, a Hygienist who has their own Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN), business license, Business, Professional and other liability insurances covering them to perform services on patients such as elderly/special needs/rural operations…etc. under contract by a company or government agency.

Okay, now that we have established some ground rules and determined that you cannot (in almost all cases), classify temporary employees as independent contractors, here is what you should consider before assuming these risks yourself.

Be prepared to provide, take action or assume the following risk for:

Training such as –

  • Office Specific Safety Plan (usually a state or workers comp L & I requirement)
  • OSHA
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Sexual Harassment (depending on state)
  • COVID-19

Reference and Background Checks –

  • This could be hundreds of dollars depending on where the employee has lived and/or worked (example: New York, New Jersey)

Office and Professional Liability Insurance coverage for temporary staff –

  • Normally, insurance companies will require company’s performing temporary staffing to pay higher premiums as there is inherently more risk when it comes to temporary employees.

Workers Compensation/L & I, claims/rates coverage for temporary staff-

  • Again, using the example above, most policies require you to have a safety program and everybody be trained appropriately

Unemployment Claims/Rates –

Wage Garnishments –

Federal and State Employee Taxes (EE) and Employer (ER) –

  • This is an area that the IRS is keenly aware of now and has vowed to crack down.

Payroll fees and yearend W2’s

Depending on the state, state mandated sick leave and other things such FMLA

Also, it would be advantageous, to consider how you will protect sensitive data relative to your business and operating plan(s) as well as exposing your patients and their personal/sensitive information, to individuals who may not be properly vetted.

Okay, so you want to do the right thing, what do you do?  We recommend that you find a company, that assumes all risk and properly trains and vets their associates.  Legitimate companies will be more than happy to provide you with the objective evidence that they are compliant and providing you with a premium above the board service.  Depending on how the company responds, will give you a good indication of just who they are and what level(s) they are operating at.

Hopefully, you have a better idea about the differences between employees and independent contractors and what kind of companies will provide you a true, value added service.

If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to reach out and we can help!

Have a great day!

Dental Temps Staffing Solutions (DTSS)




Dental Temps Staffing Solutions is a new and innovative company that is redefining how dental staffing services and dental staffing agencies are designed and offered to the dental community. Today’s business environment requires companies have more than just a website and a central location for conducting face-to-face interviews. We provide an elegant dental staffing agency solution to your dental temping and dental permanent staffing needs.

Dental Temp Staffing Solutions frees dentist’s time and saves money by providing temporary staffing, payroll, and credit card processing at a fraction of the cost. Through our easy to use system, we give dental hygienist jobs, dental assistant jobs, floaters, front desk staff, dental lab technicians, and dentists rapid access to what jobs are available around them without any of the hassle.

Dental Temps Staffing Solutions is breaking the mold of today’s dental staffing environment, developing multiple value-added services, to manage, streamline, and lean out costly labor intensive processes. Over time, Dental Temps Staffing Solutions is a one-stop shop; offering a Whole Office Management Solution. This will be ideal for the dentist who desires to remain independent of the corporate model while gaining the advantage of a large organization through affiliation. Additionally, this will be a great resource for those looking to gain the next competitive advantage by sharing administrative resources.

Sound interesting?

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Or call 888-653-1657