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Justin Puckett, an accountant, attorney, and owner at MB2 is answering our legal questions in regard to pandemic closure.

Justin Puckett is a founder of MB2, a practicing attorney and accountant.  With the government discussing mandates that use the verbiage of emergencies as “life-saving”, what does that mean for us as dentists? The aim is to keep people out of emergency rooms when possible.

If a staff member is uncomfortable with working, they should be able to stay home unpaid.

If a team member gets infected, can the sue us? Anyone can sue, but be mindful and make sure you are supplying safety equipment and being mindful. It is okay to also ask patients to sign a waiver for treatment.

What about unemployment? Everyone should apply, even if their hours are reduced without being terminated. Check with your state on their particular regulations. Salary employees can be furloughed or their salary reduced.

Do independent contractors get unemployment? It is a harder burden to prove but apply anyway.

As an owner, if you pay yourself anything outside of profits, can we also apply? Yes!

If we lay off employees, will we still be eligible for the tax breaks? Currently, they are giving a two week grace period on this as well as relieving the penalties of unemployment.

If you have an emergency, but your assistant is on unemployment, how does that work? Adjustments are made on a week by week basis. Their amount paid would be adjusted for the following week.

If you are doing things outside of the normal pay, keep track of receipts to use as business expenses.

What are our rights as a tenant? If you are behind on your rent, can the doors be locked? Check your contract first. Some advisors are saying not to pay rent to preserve cash. Do not say you will not pay or do not have the intention to pay, but many landlords are being understanding. Evictions are currently being suspended for now because peace officers are not working and courts are closed in many states.

If you are concerned about being unable to pay your rent, how do we approach it? Essentially our businesses are being asked to shut down. Can we have an extension of the rent to the end or other flexibility?

Would a team member being in the office for calls be a violation of mandates? We are still considered an essential business, so it does not apply to our offices at this time.

Are there any risks if your associate is seeing emergencies without proper PPE? There is nothing mandated but use common sense.

If a team member works for a corporation and is being forced to work, what can they do? It is ultimately your decision. As an owner, consider how this reflects on your business. As an employee, you can make the decision to go in or not.

As an associate, how does it adjust if you are on a per diem? Be flexible due to the circumstances. If not, you may not have a job to go back to.

If I pay the gym and medical for my employees, do I need to continue? If there is a layoff, you do not need to continue.