Q&A: Should my veterinary boss pay me for paid time off (PTO) hours even if I didn't work full-time during the pay period?

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Q: Should my boss pay me for paid time off (PTO) hours even if I didn't work full-time during the pay period?

Q Should my veterinary boss pay me for paid time off (PTO) hours even if I didn't work full-time during the pay period?

PTO hours are offered individually by each employer, therefore they're not explicitly spelled out in most state laws, says Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD, of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Kelso, Wash. He says even though there may be no violation of a law, there could be a breach of an employee contract—depending on how the employer-employee arrangement is set up—which would be cause for legal civil action.

First, you should reference your employee contract or check the information in your employee manual. It should be noted that—other than lunch breaks and over-time requirements—most other benefits and the requirements to qualify for them are left up to the employers and employees to negotiate at the time of hire. It's common for employers who offer benefits to require a minimum number of hours worked per week (at least on an average basis) to qualify for the PTO benefit.

Take the mystery out of vaccine recommendations

New patients often are not current on the vaccines we recommend—and we live in an area teeming with wildlife and potential disease. Discussing vaccines can be confusing for clients, so I share information with them from a printed sheet listing our recommendations. We list the vaccines with a brief description of each disease we're trying to prevent, and break down the combination vaccines, such as DHLPP, so the client can see whether leptospirosis, for example, is covered by the vaccine.

While talking with the client, I compare the pet's vaccine history to our protocols. As we discuss, I check off the ones that are current, while writing "not covered" or "consider" beside the rest. This doesn't take a long time to do. I then leave the sheet with the client for further discussion with the doctor, in case he or she needs more information. Our pet owners appreciate taking part in the vaccination decision process rather than blindly accepting what's given. They also better understand exactly what vaccines are being administered, the diseases being prevented, and what their pets need.

—Jenny Caldarello, veterinary assistant

Braelinn Animal Hospital

Peachtree City, Ga.

Choose bins over bags

When patients stay at our veterinary hospital all day, the owners often leave some of their pets' belongings at our practice. We used to put smaller items in a resealable plastic bag and larger items on the counter. This wasted a lot of bags and took up limited counter space. So I purchased plastic bins in two sizes to use instead. Now we write the pet's name on the bins with a dry-erase marker and put the bin on a shelf in the kennel. When the pet goes home, we simply erase the pet's name and the bin is ready for another pet.

—Susan J. Farris, CVT

New Berlin Animal Hospital

New Berlin, Wis.

Spread heartworm awareness

For heartworm awareness in April, we made a spin wheel and asked our vendors for free products that we can give away—such as hats and pens. When a client purchases a box of heartworm prevention and flea and tick repellent, or gets a heartworm test for a pet along with a box of prevention, the client gets to spin for the free prize. To promote these activities, we make big, bright posters to hang in the reception area and in the exam rooms and we put notices on our monthly reminder cards. The activities really increase client awareness and the clients love spinning the wheel. And they're thrilled if they win.

—Elizabeth Fellows, CVT

Show Low, Ariz.

Dental deal-o-rama

In order to better educate our clients about pet dental care, we set up a prize wheel and bowls of corresponding prizes and encouraged each client to spin the wheel. We included prizes for pets, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental treats, and toys. We also offered dental prizes for our clients, such as toothpaste, brushes, and whitening strips. To up the ante, we held drawings for a spa day for the people, a free dental treatment for the pet, and free dental radiographs if the pet came in for a dental exam within the next three months. This event was a fun way to educate our clients about pet dental care. We're going to do something similar to highlight the need for pet weight loss, and in May we'll focus on flea and parasite control.

—Jean Lorenz, receptionist

The Veterinary Hospital

Eugene, Ore.

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