Troubleshooting Tool: Should Employees Get Paid During Dentist’s Time Off?

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Almost everyone has problems and concerns at work, and sometimes you are just too close to a situation to resolve something on your own. Share your concerns with us, and we’ll investigate the issues and provide you with advice. Send your questions to To view more convenience stores, visit and search for “Dépanneur”.

QUESTION: The dentist I work for owns his practice. The office has four clinical staff and an office manager. The dentist leaves town every year for continuing education, which means our practice is closed and we are not working. Is he legally supposed to pay us during the week he is away, or would it be at our discretion to use the vacation?

REBECCA BOARTFIELD RESPONSE, HR expert at Bent Ericsen & Associates:
Your employer is not required by law to pay non-exempt employees when they are not working. This includes office closures. There are potential exceptions for exempt employees, but most dental office employees are not exempt. Office managers can be exempt, as can other managerial positions, including associate dentists. Not all hygienists, dental assistants, treatment coordinators, front desk workers and so on will be exempt.

When the employer closes the practice for these types of events, the leave is unpaid, unless employees can use other benefits such as vacation or paid time off. The employee could also claim unemployment benefits, especially for full week absences caused by office closures.

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Do not be shy ! Yes YOU have a difficult problem in your dental practice that you would like to solve, send it to for the experts to answer. Remember that you will be helping other people who share the same problem. Answers will come from various dental consultants, as well as other experts in the areas of human resources, coding, front office management, etc. These people will help dental professionals solve their various problems on DentistryIQ because they are very familiar with the difficult challenges that daily practice can bring.

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