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COVID-19 UPDATE FOR DENTAL ASSOCIATES FROM PROSPERITY LAW

20th May 2020, 2:09 pm

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

This scheme was announced on 26th March 2020 and allows self-employed people to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500.00 a month. The benefit of this is that as a grant, this does not have to be repaid. As of 13th May 2020, those who have applied and are eligible will have the money in their bank account within six working days of completing an application. The scheme is only available to those who earn at least half their income through self-employment and trading profits of no more than £50,000.00 a year. Where individuals are not eligible, further guidance and support will be given by HMRC such as rental support, mortgage holidays and Universal Credit, but note that income will be taken into consideration. The British Dental Association has written to the Chancellor and spoken to HMRC. They have pledged to continue to campaign to help associate dentists in this regard.

NHS Pay

Corporate bodies and practice owners with NHS contracts will continue to be paid providing that certain conditions are met. One condition of this arrangement is that the practice must make staff available for redeployment within the NHS to assist with the pandemic. Another condition is that the NHS money must be used to pay associates. Neither England nor Wales will be paying 100% of the contract payments. In England, there will be an agreed and fair reduction for any variable costs associated with service delivery (e.g. in recognition of reduced consumable costs and lab bills) and Associates should be paid accordingly. It has not yet been made clear what percentage of deductions we can expect to see, although we have seen a figure of 80% being mooted in England. Should a practice fail to make staff available for redeployment within the NHS there is a risk that the NHS will look to recover sums paid to the practice during this time. Some associates will not volunteer for wider NHS duties whether it be for reason of self-isolation or personal choice. In this case, it may be appropriate for the practice to withhold some money due to the Associate. Practice owners withholding money in this situation should be clear with their overall obligation as a practice to support the NHS and to discuss with Associates why they are considering withholding the money while listening to Associates personal circumstances and any arguments they have against the withholding of monies due to them. Practices must provide Associates with a written statement that clearly states the amount being withheld and the reasons for doing so whilst explaining that the money will be paid to the Associates if it becomes clear that the NHS will not be clawing back any contract payments due to the failure of redeployment by Associates. Practices should not consider paying Associates at a huge reduction of their normal pay nor should they insist that an Associate agree to enter into a loan arrangement whereby they receive payment but would have to repay it when the claw back figures are calculated and there has been an underperformance of the dental contract.

Private Capitation Schemes

Most patients will continue to pay into private capitation schemes and the practice will continue to receive the capitation money. Some practices may continue to pay Associates a share of capitation money, although this is dependent on the strict interpretation of the Associate Agreement and what has been agreed. If associates are receiving capitation money in respect of private capitation schemes, the practice should discuss with associates what happens if the associateship ends before the associate can do the relevant routine dental work. There may be some patients who cancel their direct debit payments. Those who pay into a capitation scheme such as Denplan, PracticePlan or other similar scheme, should remember that the payment is a subscription fee to the scheme. It is not a charge for treatment and without membership of the scheme, their eligibility to receive private dental treatment would end.

Termination It is important to note that contractual principles still apply despite the pandemic and any notice to terminate must be served in accordance with the agreement. However, it has been suggested that where both Principal and Associate can agree, a shorter notice period can replace the standard 3 months.

We are here to help and have experienced specialists on hand to advise you. Please contact Jonathan Jacobs on jonathan.jacobs@prosperitylaw.com or 0161 667 3686. www.prosperitylaw.com

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