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Dr cuts my hours unknowingly

I really need advice. I’ve had a feeling for a while that my hours didn’t seem to add up to what I was actually logging in and this week it’s been brought to my attention that my dr has truly been shortening my hours by changing my clock in/out times on days I have less patients but am truly still working during my ‘free’ time with organizing my op, restocking, sharpening, helping catch up in sterilization, perio charting for other Hygienists, working on the recall list, catching up on chart notes, etc. If my pt before lunch cancels he tells me to take a 2 hour lunch as if it’s no big deal that I live 40 min from my office so I can’t just go home, I sit in my car and wait. Upon getting hired he never made me feel like he would micro manage me or my hours. I actually sensed that he appreciated the fact that I cared enough to get those extra chores done that are desperately needed instead of having the attitude of ‘I’m a hygienist I don’t help others or do assistant/front desk duties’. He is one that has high standards and expects the utmost perfection in every aspect of the office. He doesn’t think himself as a micro manager but he is exactly that. I’ve been hired for 9 months now whilst the other Hygienists have been there for 10+ years. I know I have proven myself in this short time in that I’m a hard worker and truly care about the office’s success. I really do give 110% and abide to his standards as well as establish trust with my patients and my coworkers with my work ethic. I think we can agree It’s not hard to find that ‘lazy’ person that disrespects their paid time by sitting in the staff room and have to be asked multiple times for extra help, I know I’m not that person. I don’t feel valued and taken care of and can’t believe that he would lengthen my 40 minute lunch to a full hour when it was truly 40 minutes and at the same time expect everyone to stay at the end of the day for a quick 15 min meeting to talk about the days struggles and/or high five each other for a good day. Those meetings are unnecessary because we actually DON’T talk about any of that; we just chit chat about random stuff and I can tell everyone wants to go home so badly but we stay because he thinks it’s worthwhile. We also have morning meetings every morning and extended office meetings every Thursday. A little much if u ask me. Sorry for the rant but I am going to confront him about it. How/what do I say??

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1 Answer

No worries on the rant, this is a tough situation to be in! It is completely unacceptable (not to mention illegal) for the doctor to be retroactively changing your time sheet when you have performed work and he never told you that would be off the clock. I’m not an attorney, so please take any advice I give with that big caveat and you should definitely talk to an attorney if you aren’t able to get this resolved.
It’s good that you are going to talk to your boss. That is something that needs to happen. Make sure that you talk to him when he has a few minutes to chat and isn’t rushed. Start off by letting him know the positive things you like about the office and his quality of care. But then you have to get into your hours not matching up. Tell him that you have noticed that your paycheck has been short from the hours you are putting in. He will probably say something about you not seeing patients, but let him know that you are working that whole time and give him the specific examples you mentioned in your question above.
Now there are a couple different routes you can take on this. You can request that you be compensated for back pay. This is probably the right thing to request, but there may be negative repercussions in that it pits you against him. You could also tell him that you would just like to be compensated for the time going forward. This is the “safer” way to go, but personally I don’t think it’s fair if you don’t get your back pay. You can also get clarity on when you should be clocking out and if he doesn’t want to pay you when you don’t have patients, then don’t stock the room or work for free. This is where it’s a very difficult situation to be in because no matter what you are probably going to have a cut in pay.
Here is one thing you absolutely should do before you talk with the doctor. Type out a letter where you write out the issues that you have listed above. Explain that you are going to talk to your doctor about him retroactively changing the hours you have already worked and that you are concerned there may be repercussions ranging from less hours to being outright fired. Print out this letter and take it to a notary public and sign it in front of them. Do this the day before you talk to your doctor so that you have an official signed and dated document of your concerns. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but on the off chance that your doctor fires, or otherwise retaliates against you, there will be a legal document of your concerns. This will come in extremely handy if something bad happens. Again, I know it seems like a lot, but if something goes bad as a result of your chat, you will be able to use the notarized letter in a lawsuit.
I’m really sorry to hear you are in this situation, especially when it sounds like the doctor is a good dentist and cares about his patients. I wish you the best of luck in this situation and I can’t stress enough the importance of talking to an attorney if you need to escalate this further.

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