As discussed in the first part of this series, if you’re an independent contractor associate at a group practice, or if you’re considering joining as one, there are certain things you should be aware of. If you’re an employee associate or are considering becoming one, below I list benefits employee associates get at some practices. If nothing else, the following offers a sanity check to see if you're incredibly pampered, taken advantage of, or somewhere in-between.
Having once worked under a supervisor who didn’t appear to value my contributions; minimized my compensation as much as possible; and seemed reluctant at times to follow policies, rules, and even laws that would benefit me, I get indignant whenever I see someone being abused by their employer or supervisor. Having also worked with employers and supervisors who regularly expressed appreciation for my work, did their best to compensate me as highly as possible, and meticulously followed every rule or law to my benefit, I want to make sure that people treated similarly know how lucky they are.
To that end, if you’re an employee associate, the following is intended to help you figure out where on that spectrum you fall.
What Do Group Practices Offer their Associates that’s Required by Law?
Federal or state laws require certain things of any employer. The following are some of the important ones, though different state laws may add to (or remove from) the list.
- Cover employer side of Social Security and Medicare taxes
- Pay for hours spent at the practice when not seeing clients (e.g., mandatory meetings, client no-shows, etc.)
- Pay for overtime work (if working enough hours per state and/or federal laws)
- Pay for unemployment insurance
- Pay for workers compensation insurance
- Absorb the cost of bounced client checks and chargebacks
- Provide unpaid leave (e.g., for jury duty and other mandated reasons)
- Provide paid vacation and sick leave (if and as required by state law)
- Provide paid meal and rest breaks (if and as required by state law)
- Pay on a bi-weekly or semi-monthly basis (if and as required by state law) as opposed to monthly as can be done with independent contractors
What Voluntary Employee Benefits Do Some Group Practices Offer to their Associates?
Each practice owner has to decide on the right balance of benefits. Offer too few and hiring and retention get harder. Offer too many, and you have to charge such high client session fees that the practice can’t fill available associate hours. Here are some of the more common benefits that practice owners may offer. Some may set up eligibility requirements (e.g., longevity at the practice, sufficient number of client sessions delivered, etc.) for certain benefits.
- Covering associates under the practice’s malpractice and general liability insurance
- Optional retirement plan (e.g., SIMPLE IRA) with dollar-for-dollar match of employee contributions up to e.g. 3% of salary
- Allowances toward CEUs, professional license fees, Psychology Today listing, business use of cellphone, etc.
- Bonus payments for client sessions above a certain number per month or year
What Non-Monetary Benefits Can Group Practices Offer their Associates?
- Direct deposit of salary
- Schedule flexibility and unpaid leave beyond legal requirements
- Encouragement to raise concerns with the owner, and reasonable efforts to address such concerns in a positive way
- Potential of buying into the practice and becoming partners and/or owners if and when the current owner wishes to retire and sell the practice (this may never come up for many associates)
Bottom Line and Path Forward
Receiving all of the above benefits is unlikely, but if you are an employee, you should definitely receive each of the ones that are mandated by law. If you receive all the voluntary benefits listed above (or more), consider yourself very lucky and well-pampered by the practice owner. If you receive none, consider if your compensation and work environment are such that more than make up for that lack.
If your compensation isn’t competitive, you get few if any voluntary benefits, and you don’t feel valued and appreciated, consider looking for a better situation elsewhere. If your talents, inclination, and financial resources allow, you may even wish to consider opening your own practice. If you go that route, I’d be honored if you consider whether my business coaching would be a good fit for you.