The coronavirus pandemic has led to a significant number of dentists contacting the Dental Defence Union's (DDU) free employment law advice line for support and advice on issues including staff grievances, personal conduct and sick leave.
From the first national lockdown in March 2020 until February 2021, the advice line, which the DDU has run in collaboration with global HR and employment law consultancy Peninsula since 2008, received 1,045 enquiries (both calls and emails) from DDU members. The top five reasons for dental professionals requesting advice were:
- Terms and conditions of contracts – 173 enquiries (17 per cent)
- Redundancy – 169 enquiries (16 per cent)
- Conduct – 137 enquiries (13 per cent)
- Absence – 125 enquiries (12 per cent)
- Other enquiries on issues including furlough – 122 enquiries (12 per cent)
Resigning from practice was another reason why DDU members contacted the employment law advice line. Such enquiries rose from 27 in 2019/20 to 49 in 2020/21.
John Makin, head of the DDU said, “The pandemic has been a challenging time for dental professionals as they deal with increased anxiety levels and extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
“At the DDU, we support our members and are by their side throughout their career. The employment law advice line means that members have 24-hour access to a resource which can address all their questions and concerns.”
Nicola Morgan, head of marketing at the DDU explained, “Dentists are becoming increasingly aware of employment law and want to make sure they follow good practice and comply with the law and regulations, such as those laid down by the GDC.
"It is reassuring to know that our members can access expert advice on employment issues that might affect the running of their practice during these challenging times.”
Kate Palmer, HR advice director and consultancy director at Peninsula said, “Employment law and HR can be daunting, and dentists are naturally keen to minimise the risk of getting embroiled in an employment tribunal.
“By collaborating with the DDU, we are delighted to be able to help members, through our expert advice, understand how to apply the laws and regulations in their organisations and to ensure any issues are dealt with timely and appropriately.”
DDU members have access to the free 24-hour employment law advice line as part of the DDU’s Groupcare programme. More information on how to set up and access the Groupcare scheme can be found at www.theddu.com/groupcare