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Asked to clock out if I finish a patient early

I have been asked to clock out when patients no-show, and that’s fine-(ish) with me. However I recently had a 2 hour SRP that only took 90 minutes. I regularly do not need 2 hours for 2 quads of SRP and feel 90 minutes is better, which I have expressed to my office manager. Because I finished 30 minutes early I had time to do other things, like prep for the next day before my next patient arrived. My OM asked me to clock out. Here is my issue, I still made the practice the production on the 2 quads of SRP in 90 minutes rather than 120 minutes, and I think it’s unfair for them to ask me to clock out since no money was lost. How do I address this if it happens again without ruffling feathers? Also, my OM and I are friends, she is a wonderful person and I don’t have anything bad to say about her except that this request seems unfair, like I’m being penalized for working efficiently. I could do a “song and dance” (a prev. DDS’s phrase for adding time to the appt.) and take the extra 30 minutes and just kill time with the patient but it seems like a poor use of my time.

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1 Answer

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you cannot be asked to clock out if you finish a patient early. Now this is tricky because you can be asked to come in late, take a longer lunch, or leave early, but to clock out in the middle of the day (in between patients) is illegal. It’s called “engaged to wait.”
Is the OM the “boss?” If not, she needs to be careful making up “new rules” because the practice owner could be slapped with huge fines from the labor board by doing things like this. I would speak with the practice owner about your concerns. Whether you are friends with the OM or not, illegal is illegal, and I don’t think the doctor wants their name smeared for breaking employment law.
I would recommend contacting the labor board for advice and potentially reporting the office, especially if you are continued to be asked to clock out. The law is the law and we must hold firm on our rights otherwise we will continue to be taken advantage of!

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