Q: What are the most important things to consider as our practice plans for an associate's pregnancy?
"First, talk to the doctor to work out a plan for modifying her duties and schedule," says Elise Lacher, CPA, of Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Seminole, Fla. Don't make assumptions about what she can and can't do during her pregnancy—in other words, avoid treating her any differently than you would treat any other employee. You can't use her pregnancy to make decisions about her ongoing salary arrangements, continued employment, or work load. If she can't perform her duties as a doctor, you can require her to take maternity leave or vacation time (paid or unpaid, depending on your practice's policy).
Good associates are hard to come by, so make accommodations that are fair to both the doctor and your practice, and keep the lines of communication open to be sure you're both on the same page. Also, be aware that how you handle the situation will set a precedent for future employee pregnancies. For information on safety for pregnant employees and maternity leave, see the related links below.