November 20, 2019

How to Properly Hire Temporary Hygiene

Understanding Temporary Hygienist Employment: Independent Contractor or Employee?

When you have a member of your hygiene team out, it’s normal to hire temporary help to cover the schedule. As Dental CPAs, we understand a recurring issue dentists face is how to properly pay temporary hygienists. Whether a temporary hygienist is there to help to fill-in for a day or to help your office through a busy schedule for maternity leave, proper classification is vital. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the basics around independent contractor status versus a regular employee, as well as some best practices for your benefit.

The IRS defines an independent contractor as “self-employed”. No services are controlled by an employer – this means: what will be done when it will be done, where it will be done or how it will be done. On the flip side, as an employee, the employer has the legal right to control what, when, where, and how services are performed, even if the employee is given freedom of action.

As you’re aware, most full-time and part-time temporary hygienists are required to follow your office protocols under your supervision as a dentist. They use your equipment and see your patients, at your office and on your schedule. Therefore, all hygienists are employees whether full-time, regular employees or temporary.


In closing, it’s important that you and your staff, temporarily included, be on the same page about worker classification. Should you misclassify a worker and issue them 1099, you open yourself up to a potentially painful audit. The result of such an audit may leave you to pay additional taxes, interest, and steep penalties. Classifying temporary hygienists as an employee, obtaining a W-4, and issuing them a W-2 in January next year is a winning combination for everyone involved.

Do you still have questions about hygiene classification? Chat with us anytime on our home page. We are available 24/7!


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