Staff meetings - not on personal time!

July 1, 1999
Some doctors feel that hygienists should not be compensated for training, planning, and continuing education because of their higher salaries ...

Some doctors feel that hygienists should not be compensated for training, planning, and continuing education because of their higher salaries ...

Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, BS

Dear Dianne,

I am an RDH with 19 years of experience. I have worked for my current employer for five-and-a-half years. I work three days per week, and enjoy staying home with my young children the rest of the week.

For the last year or so, my boss` wife, who acts as office manager, has scheduled staff meetings and training sessions on our day off or after regular office hours, presumably so as not to cut into "production time."

I give my all to this practice from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but I feel obligated to get home after work. I also resent being asked to come in on my day off. As with all working mothers, my days are filled with errands, appointments, and housekeeping responsibilities. My children look forward to these "stay-at-home" days.

I feel that these training sessions and staff meetings should be held during normal working hours. After all, if I worked for a second office, I would not be available to come in on another day.

I have tried to let my boss and his wife know my feelings on this matter, but they persist in scheduling these off-hours meetings. They truly be-lieve that we all should be willing to give this extra time to their practice. Did I mention that we are not paid for this extra time we are required to spend at the office?

Do you think this sounds fair? Every other office I have ever worked for has held staff meetings during office hours. I am becoming very resentful about these after-hours meetings! How widespread is this practice?

Feeling Cheated in Florida

Dear Feeling Cheated,

I would like to answer your last question first. The practice of holding staff meetings and training on days off or after hours is not widespread. In fact, to do so and not compensate employees is illegal. Either your employer doesn`t know this, or he is ignoring the law. EEOC would love to get this case! I assume your boss is unaware that what he is requiring in these after-hours staff meetings is illegal. If staff meetings are held after working hours, not only must staff be paid, but they must be paid overtime.

Let`s look at this from a few different angles. If the doctor and his wife hold productive time inviolate and consider staff meetings nonproductive, maybe they should come to understand that training and education are productive and are just as important as producing dentistry. Time spent working on the business is just as important as time spent working in the business.

Some doctors feel that hygienists should not be compensated for training, planning, and continuing education because of their higher salaries - not that I agree with this thinking! In my opinion, this is flawed logic.

Professional or not, hygienists are still employees and do not have the same commitment level to the practice that the owner does. It simply is not reasonable to expect employees to come in on days off or after hours (especially when it is deemed uncompensated time) for staff meetings or training.

You mentioned that if you worked for another office (as in working for two offices), you would not be available on those particular days. Well, listen to me: you do work for another office - the home office, where you practice as a domestic engineer!

Many doctors do not understand the stresses placed on working mothers. There is a never-ending internal battle between being a good employee and being a good mother. However, that innate maternal instinct usually will win out. When outside influences impinge on our quality time with our children, we become resentful of those things.

When my children were small, I worked three days per week. Even that much stretched me at times. After a day of scaling teeth, I was pretty well "zapped" at the end of the work day.

My advice to you would be to do some soul-searching to uncover any hidden negative emotions about having the doctor`s wife in the practice. Then, ask for a meeting with the doctor and his wife to discuss this issue tactfully and unemotionally. It would be nice for you to say how much you appreciate them and how much you like working there. Then, be perfectly honest about your feelings. If the doctor has children, his wife may be able to identify with your plight. Sometimes, you just have to take a stand for what is important to you.

However, please understand that you can`t control other people; only yourself. If a workable solution cannot be arranged, you should be prepared to seek another job. I probably would have done so already if I were in your shoes.


Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, BS, is an adjunct instructor in clinical hygiene at Guilford Technical Community College. She holds a bachelor`s degree in human resource management and is a practice-management consultant, writer, and speaker. She may be contacted by e-mail at [email protected], phone (336) 472-3515, or fax (336) 472-5567.