Open wide – dental hygienists – self employed?

Earlier this week I was reclining in a dentist chair waiting for the inevitable lecture on the benefits of flossing (I do, honestly…except when I don’t..) when my hygienist mentioned out of the blue that as a self-employed person she was looking forward to the bank holiday week so she can take the whole week off while feeling like she’s not lost a full 5 earning days.

Until that point I had no idea that she wasn’t an employee and when I told her that she seemed surprised and she told me that pretty much all hygienists are self-employed. Given there’s 5,000 registered with the General Dental Council alone, that’s a lot of hygienists on self-employed contracts, a lot of people without paid holiday, workplace pension etc.

The point is, I don’t believe she is self-employed. Yes she works for at least 2 other dental practices, but she has regular set hours on set days, she uses the equipment provided by each surgery (not her own), she is not able to send a substitute and she is personally engaged to provide the services that each dentist needs. In my opinion she and thousands of others of her ilk are in fact workers and are entitled to holiday pay (and compensation for years of holiday back pay) and certain other benefits too.

Now I daren’t say anything as I am acutely aware of the pain a dentist can inflict, particularly an angry one stung for thousands of pounds of unpaid holiday pay as a result of my blabbing.  But sooner or later someone will and lots of dentists will become very annoyed. On the back of widely publicised cases like UberPimlico Plumbers, Deliveroo etc. I predict that that these cases will become as common in employment tribunals as PPI in banking circles.  Lawyers will make millions, self-employed contracts will be shredded and HMRC will collect more revenue.  The thing I can’t work out, particularly as the issue can be quickly and cost effectively resolved, is why so many employers with ‘self-employed’ people are still sticking their heads in the sand.

Article supplied by Bill Larke.

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