Duties when paid by commission
The job description for straight commission is often too vague
I’m writing to you because lately there have been many
issues that have come up in my office. I’m a hygienist in a
very successful, multimillion-dollar office. There are many
days that I love my job. They offer great benefits, including
paying for two-thirds of the cost of my medical insurance.
We have seven hygienists and eight assistants working
with four doctors.
The hygiene department is paid on straight commission,
which has led to many problems in the office. We do not
have a “base pay,” meaning that if we do not have a patient
in the chair, we do not get paid.
Lately the assistants have been complaining, because
they feel that the hygienists do not help enough in sterilization. A huge argument arose when the assistants left
work over an hour early and did not finish making trays
for the hygiene team as well as their own. We keep a log
book of how often the sterilizers are started and who started
them. A doctor at the practice took home this book to see
how many times the hygienists have “helped” by running
the equipment. We (the hygiene team) were under the
impression that when we have
some downtime and are waiting for a doctor to check
our patients, we are to
help as much as we can.
But we did not know
that we would be ex-
pected to stay late or
when we don’t have a patient, to essentially be doing the
The assistants have also recently decided that they will
only be laundering our scrub tops and that we are to take
or wear our pants home and launder them ourselves. (We
do not wear any other form of PPE.)
I’ve read many articles before about hygiene pay on commission and that the only
expectations should be
to perform chairside
hygiene, take care of
our own instruments,
and stock our rooms.
Our office is expecting
us to also catch up on
the sterilization on top
of all of our other duties. I am just seeking some advice if
this is fair or if their expectations are a bit farfetched. What
do you think?
RDH Needing Clarification
There are three separate issues swirling here: ( 1) petty
jealousy and “pecking order” problems, ( 2) job descriptions,
It is not that unusual to find petty jealousy between
assistants and hygienists. All it takes is for one bad
apple to plant seeds of jealousy, and pretty soon, the
whole work atmosphere is toxic. The number one
reason for jealousy is over pay differences between
the two job classes. Hygienists are producers, and
if assistants want to make hygienist pay, they should
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