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Self-employment in the dental industry

in Working Life

Self-employment in the dental industry

It is often the case that when you become an associate for the first time, you may not fully understand the implications of being self-employed. The associate ship arrangement is unique to the dental industry and therefore you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions about the arrangement with your practice owner.


Being self-employed means that you enjoy various taxation advantages. HM Revenue and Customs are however starting to look further into the nature of your employment/engagement and if they should decide you are not truly self-employed it can cost you an awful lot of money in back tax. When assessing your status, HMRC and the Courts will consider a number of factors:

1. Written Agreement - Without a written agreement is place, it is likely that an Employment Tribunal will decide that you are an employee. The plus side to being an employee means you can benefit from various protections contained in the employment legislation such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed. This means that if you have worked at the same practice for more than 2 years and you are served notice to terminate your services you may have a claim for unfair dismissal in which you can currently be awarded up to £74,200 in compensation. This course of action is not open to self-employed staff.

2. Control – A self-employed person should be able to determine when and how they work.

3. Mutual Obligations – You are not obliged to accept the work which is offered and the Dental Practice is not under any obligation to offer you work on a regular basis.

4. Personal Service – You should not be required to carry out the services personally and should have the right to appoint a locum.

5. Exclusivity – You should be able to work at more than one dental practice.

6. Pay and Benefits – You should be paid a percentage of the fees which you earn. You should not be participating in benefit schemes and are not paid overtime.

7. Intergration – You should not be integrated into the dental practice. You should not perform similar services to those performed by employees. If you work at the practice as a self-employed hygienist and at the same practice there are employed hygienists, it is more than likely that you will also be classed as employed.

8. Facilities and Equipment- You should provide your own equipment and materials in order to perform the services.

9. Financial Risk – You should be personally responsible for any losses arising from your work. You should be required to correct any unsatisfactory work in your own time and at your own expense.

10. Taxation – You should be responsible for payment of you own income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

To be truly self-employed you ensure that the above factors are reflected in your associate ship. If you are unsure about your status and whether you really are self-employed or not, you may take legal advice to put your mind at rest.

Sarah Buxton is a dental specialist employment solicitor who may be able to assist you with your queries on this issue.

Sarah Buxton
0113 2010407


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