Dental chain brushes off staff accusations

High-street dentist chain Optical Express/The Dental Clinic has been accused of managing its staff badly and ignoring employment regulations.

Personnel Today has received a letter from a source close to the company detailing a number of questionable employment practices – all of which have been denied by the management.

Employees at the dental business, which was bought by Scottish entrepreneur David Moulsdale from Boots Dentalcare in December 2004, are said to be unhappy with the management and the working environment.

The letter alleges that the firm:

  • tried to impose, with threats of disciplinary action, a change of duties on dental nurses, in effect turning them into cleaners

  • is refusing to pay sick pay

  • has made staff move office equipment into new premises over weekends, without agreeing overtime payments

  • has failed to communicate its dispute and grievance procedures to staff, despite being required to do so since October 2004.

Other sources have alleged that Optical Express does not allow staff working on reception duties to sit down during work hours.

However, the company vehemently denied all the claims.

A spokesman said: “We are absolutely adamant that terms and conditions for staff have stayed the same since the Boots takeover. HR plays the same role at Optical Express as any other large business, we regard it as a vital function of our operation.”

About 700 employees, mostly female, moved across under Transfer of Undertakings (Personnel and Employment) regulations.

Pamela Swain, chief executive of the British Association of Dental Nurses, said: “We would encourage David Moulsdale to talk to us about staff working conditions. We had a good relationship with Boots and would hope to continue that.”

Optical Express has 2,300 employees and is the UK’s third largest dental services business.

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