The majority of dentists in general practice work as self-employed associates. The relationship between an associate and the practice/practice owner is based on the associate making regular payments to the practice/practice owner in return for the use of the practice premises, staff, materials and equipment.
As more associate dentists have begun to work in practices based on verbal agreements only, increasing numbers of problems can arise when it comes to employment status, handling any under-performance or substandard work, agreeing the ownership of goodwill and deciding what happens when the associate leaves the practice.
A comprehensive associate agreement drafted by a specialist in dental law can ensure that both parties clearly understand their obligations and responsibilities. Restrictive covenants can also prevent problems later, for example they can limit the associate’s right to establish a rival practice or try to take patients with them if they leave the practice.