October 2014 



Phone (908) 823-4607- [email protected]

 DRUG TESTING: How and When!

Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in workplaces across the United States, including in some veterinary practices, with significant financial implications. According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicate the following:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse cost American businesses $81 billion in lost productivity in just one year

  • Substance abusers are absent ten times as often as non-abusers

  • Substance abusers are three times as likely to be late to work than non-abusers

  • Substance abusers use medical benefits 300% more often than non-abusers

  • Substance abusers file 30% to 50% of all workers compensation claims

One method to control the damage inflicted upon a business's bottom line is drug testing, but this is a controversial topic among veterinary practice owners. Controversy arises, in part, because of the sometimes confusing federal and state laws that dictate what a business can or cannot do in regards to testing, and in part because there is a risk of discrimination when policies are not effectively created and/or implemented.


  Although no federal law specifically prohibits drug testing, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) does restrict the scope and timing of the testing. Some states prohibit or restrict certain types of testing, so be sure to be familiar with your state's laws before creating your policies (Click Here for State Info).


Note that, although the majority of private employees are not required to drug test, most of them do have the right to test.


Click here to read full article.


On Call Employees: Do They Have To Be Paid?

On-call situations vary. Some employees are required to remain on the employer's premises or at a location controlled by the employer. One example is a hospital employee who must stay at the hospital in an on-call room. While on-call, the employee is able to sleep, eat, watch television, read a book, etc. but is not allowed to leave the hospital. Other employees are able to leave their employer's premises, but are required to stay within so many minutes or so many miles of the facility and be accessible by telephone or by pager. An example of this type of employee is an apartment maintenance worker who has to carry a pager while on call and must remain within a specified number of miles of the apartment complex.


Is your employee required to remain on your premises while he or she is on-call?

While on-call, is your employee able to use his or her on-call time for his or her own purposes?

Is there an amount of time the employee has to respond?


An employee who is required to remain on his or her employer's premises or so close thereto that he or she cannot use the time effectively for his or her own purposes is working while on-call.


Whether hours spent on-call is hours worked is a question of fact to be decided on a case-by-case basis. All on-call time is not hours worked.


Off Duty Waiting Time


Off duty waiting time or layover time is a period during which the employee is waiting to be engaged and is not hours worked.


Off duty waiting time or layover time is not hours worked if:

  1. your employee is completely relieved from duty;
  2. the periods are long enough to enable your employee to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes;
  3. your employee is definitely told in advance that he or she may leave the job; and
  4. your employee is advised of the time that he or she is required to return to work.

All of the above requirements must be met or the employee is working while waiting.

Whether the time is long enough to enable your employee to use the time effectively for his or her own purpose depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of the case.

For example, a truck driver is sent from Washington, D.C., to New York City, leaving at 6:00 a.m. and arriving at 12:00 noon. If the driver is completely and specifically relieved from all duty until 6:00 p.m. when he or she again goes on duty for the return trip, he or she is waiting to be engaged and the time is not hours worked.


 What are your employees?


VSIPP 2015 Annual Conference:  To our specialty practice clients, we hope to see you at the conference.  VSIPP Annual Conference is  one of its kind for specialty practices.


To read more click here.

In This Issue

Tis the Season.. What is your Holiday Policy?


Some say it is better to give than to receive, but what is your practice giving away with its holiday policies? What are reasonable expectations for employees called in on a holiday? What is reasonable, as an employer, calling people in on a holiday? Let us help you revise your holiday policies and you may be even more thankful when the next holiday comes around.


Let us say the next holiday were to fall on a Monday. Unfortunately, you start the day by finding your practice unexpectedly understaffed, with a full day ahead and an emergency on its way to the hospital. You decide to call in one of your paraprofessionals, who normally works Monday to Friday, but is "off" due to the holiday. Luckily, he or she is free for the entire day and happy to come in and help. He or she finds you at the end of the day because he or she cannot remember the policy from the employee manual pertaining to compensation for that day. You politely thank him or her for coming in and reply:

  1. "You'll be paid a straight eight-hour pay" (8h)

  2. "You'll be paid time-and-a-half for today" (12h)

  3. "You'll be paid an eight-hour pay AND time-and-a-half" (20h)

  4. All of the above (40h)

We at Veterinary Business Advisors believe that choice #2 is acceptable compensation for this circumstance. There is no law or legal obligation of employers to increase compensation to employees for working on a holiday or day he/she was not originally assigned to work. However, in recognizing the employee's commitment to the practice and demonstration of his or her work ethic, we believe time-and-a-half is a reasonable reward.


Now let us pretend your paraprofessional normally works 35-hours per week, Tuesday to Saturday. You call him or her in on a Monday, which also happens to be a holiday. For his or her hard work and time at the clinic, you may expect to compensate your employee with:


1.   Time-and-a-half (12h)

 2.   An eight-hour pay (5h + 3h time-and-a-half)

 3.   A day off on another day he or she was originally scheduled to work


While these are all potential options, we believe the best answer is #1. Remember, an employer has no obligation to increase pay for an employee on a non-scheduled work day. However, to provide a proper incentive and reward your employees for their hard work, we suggest giving your employee time-and-a-half.


What are your policies?  If you need help with your Holiday Policy, VBA can help.

 Copyright 2014
2014 - Veterinary Business Advisors, Inc.

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