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Dentist ‘working interviews’ can be complex

“Dear Practice Support” is a feature on that highlights a dentist’s unique employment question received by CDA Practice Support. Robyn Thomason, director of Practice Support, will offer responses.

Dear Practice Support: I have a position available in my office for a new hygienist. I would like to set-up working interviews for each of the candidates, but I am unsure if I need to add them to my payroll as an employee or offer a flat rate and provide a check at the end of the day. What is the the best way to do this?

Answer: While this option may seem ideal, and many employers offer potential candidates the opportunity to work in their office and “show their stuff,” the process is more complex. Each candidate must be added to your payroll. You can provide them a check at the end of the workday, but in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, they are each full-fledged employees and you must ensure that you are following appropriate employer obligations. Consider that these obligations include appropriate tax deductions, wage notice requirements, I-9’s, etc. and consider that they’ll be entitled to unemployment benefits as well.

You will need to provide each new candidate a written statement indicating they are being paid for a working interview at a rate of $_______ and the following bare-minimum documents:

•Completed W-4

•Completed I-9 form

•Provide workers’ compensation brochure

•Provide DE 2515 form

•Provide DE 2511 form

•Completed DE 34 form

•Completed DE 4 form

•Provide sexual harassment information sheet

•Provide Notice to Employee Labor Code section 2810.5 notice

•Verification of exempt/non-exempt status

Potential candidates must be paid as an employee while interviewing. They do not have the ability to sign away their rights to payment for working in the office; even for a few hours. It could be potentially viewed that you are avoiding your obligations as an employer.

In a similar light, a candidate cannot be considered an independent contractor as they are performing the same functions as other employees in the office, using your equipment, under your direction, during your directed office hours. It would be a misclassification to consider them a contractor.

I would encourage you to consider other avenues when interviewing potential candidates. Unless you have two to three potential candidates that are absolutely ideal and the need for the working interview is unavoidable, ask thorough interview questions, perform background checks, contact personal and professional references and gather as much information during the interview as you can. These steps should provide you what you need to make an informed decision.

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