Dental practices should withhold associates’ full pay, BDA suggests

dental associate pay conceptDental practices should pay associates at a lower rate until the NHS fulfils practices’ full contract value, the BDA says.

Its updated guidance suggests ‘If NHS England pays the practice at the higher rate, the practice will pass that higher rate to all its associates. If NHS England pays the practice at the lower rate, the practice will pay all its associates accordingly.’

It goes on to suggest practices initially pay associates at the ‘lower rates’ before backdating pay once the contract is fulfilled.

‘NHS England has put practice owners and associates in an impossible position by its “cliff edge” approach,’ BDA chief executive, Martin Woodrow, told Dentistry Online.

‘[This means] that neither will know how much a UDA is worth until the end of contractual year.

‘Only if a practice reaches 36% of contract delivery, will the NHS pay UDAs to the contract holder at an enhanced rate.

‘We advise that as soon as practices are confident that they are going to reach the 36% threshold, they should pay associates at an enhanced and backdated rate of 2.2 UDAs per UDA.

‘We are also offering an alternative contract model by which the contract holder pays at 2.2 UDAs from the start of the quarter.’

‘Unwelcome’ news for the associate

Its updated guidance suggests associates and practices should share the risk that UDAs are not completed.

The BDA goes on to advise that practices could offer an advance (or loan) on extra pay if needed.

NHS England says it will suspend any clawback provisions during the fourth quarter this year. But it will only pay the full contract value if practices reach 45% of normal quarterly UDA targets.

‘Whilst the news from the BDA is unwelcome for many dental associates,’ Neel Kothari, practice principal, says. ‘There really isn’t very much choice for practice owners engaged in a “self-employed” agreement with their associates.

‘Simply put, practices can only remunerate associates from collected fees. They cannot guarantee salary, which more closely resembles employment.

‘The government’s bizarre decision to introduce a 36% cliff edge now introduces a level of uncertainty for the entire practice.

‘Many dentists will undoubtedly see this as hugely unfair.

‘Even if they meet their own individual target, they will need to rely on the entire team to meet their quotas before they have a secure level of income.’

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