Podcast: What every dentist and dental practice need to know about 'wage traps'

Michelle Coker.
Michelle Coker.

In a recent episode of the "DrBicuspid.com Podcast," I interviewed Michelle Coker, an employment practices analyst for the California Dental Association, about "wage traps" and how to avoid them.

What are wage traps? According to Coker, they may be the things that your employees are doing every day in the dental practice, including everything from not being on the clock when they start or finish the day with simple tasks like setting up or cleaning up to unpaid working interviews.

"Always fall back on your practice policy. That's the No. 1 rule. If you have a timekeeping policy, then your employees need to be following that policy as well as you. And if it's not working, change it," Coker said.

During our discussion, which lasts just under 15 minutes and can be heard here, Coker touched on topics that include misconceptions about paying hygienists, the importance of tracking time and providing compliant meal and rest breaks, the risks of not paying overtime and off-the-clock work, the potential pitfalls of working interviews, and the need to pay employees for required meetings. She also emphasized the importance of staying compliant with employment laws and updating your employee manual regularly.


  1. Misconceptions about paying hygienists can lead to wage traps, such as not tracking time, not providing compliant meal and rest breaks, and not paying overtime.

  2. Employers should be aware of the risks of not paying for off-the-clock work, such as employees arriving early or performing work after clocking out.

  3. Working interviews can be a trap if employers fail to pay employees for the work performed during the interview.

  4. Required meetings should be considered on-the-clock time and employees should be paid for attending them.

  5. Dentists should reach out to their local dental association or employment law attorneys to ensure they are complying with employment laws.

  6. Updating your employee manual regularly is crucial to staying compliant with changing employment laws.

In addition to clicking on the link above, you can hear the podcast by hitting the Play button below.

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