By Ali Oromchian Esq

The drafting and implementation of employment contracts may not be one of the most exciting parts of running a dental and medical practice, but these contracts have become a necessary component of most successful businesses. Employment contracts can cover everything from salary and bonus structures to parking policies and the office dress code. In other words, employment contracts are intended to be flexible, “living” documents which can be modified to address a wide array of employee rights and responsibilities.

One provision of employment contracts has come under fire: the confidentiality clause. More than simple reinforcement of the patient protections covered by HIPAA, for example, employers are finding that requiring employee confidentiality has a number of benefits, including the protection of trade secrets. For dental practices, confidentiality provisions can be helpful in a number of ways, such as by encouraging open discussion of potential expansion, hiring practices, etc.

Recently, however, confidentiality provisions are being seen as overly restrictive, and government agencies have begun to declare some to be unlawful. This means that employers can no longer simply include the provisions they want and leave acceptance up to the potential employee. Instead, employers who are found to be using improper confidentiality provisions in their employment contracts are facing fines and penalties, not to mention the unenforceability of the confidentiality provision in the first place. The bottom line is that failure to familiarize yourself with current regulations regarding confidentiality provisions could leave employers exposed.

If the employment contracts used by your dental and medical practice include confidentiality clauses, it is recommended that you have those contracts reviewed by an attorney to ensure compliance with the most recent regulations. Even if you believe that your provisions are simple or not overly restrictive, it is best to play it safe and have your contracts reviewed frequently so as not to expose your practice to unforeseen penalties.


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