Historically, it has generally been accepted that associate dentists are virtually always self-employed. However, HMRC have withdrawn their guidance on associate dentists’ self-employment status, making it more important than ever to ensure that the correct associate dentist contract is in place and that the reality reflects the contract.

From April 2023, each dental associate’s tax status will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Factors that will be considered centre around control, but include whether the associate can exercise sufficient clinical freedoms, whether they have to do all the work themselves or can engage hygienists, therapists or locums as appropriate, and how much freedom they have to choose their own hours worked.

HMRC have confirmed that they will not be using the withdrawal of the guidance as a reason to open retrospective enquiries into periods prior to 6 April 2023, and that this is a change to the guidance, rather than the regulations on employment status.

The British Dental Association does have a standard Associate contract which generally should preserve self-employed status, but there’s nothing better than a properly drafted bespoke agreement!

Do get in touch with our healthcare solicitors in the New Forest, Hampshire, if you require a bespoke dental associate agreement, or any other employment contracts, handbook or policies for your dental practice.

Ben Ironmonger is a partner at Scott Bailey LLP in Lymington, and has over 15 years’ experience acting for dentists on business matters involving dental practices, such as dental practice sales and purchases, and disputes involving the commercial side of running dental practices.

At Scott Bailey LLP we act for dentists on a range of matters including commercial property, residential conveyancing, and wills and probate matters. It’s never too late to plan for retirement!