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Associate contracts in general dental practice

This advice should help you to develop a suitable associate agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of the owner and the associate (and avoid some of the pitfalls).

Associates are self-employed dentists working in practices owned by other dentists or by dental companies. Where practice owners and associates work cooperatively the arrangement can work well for both parties – practice patients being cared for, the associate developing their career and both getting a fair reward for their work. Being self-employed is attractive to associates. The practice owner may control the facilities and services provided, but the associate controls their day-to-day work, making independent professional judgements and taking full clinical responsibility for their work.

A written agreement describing the rights, obligations and commercial interests of both parties can enhance cooperative working and ensure sensible safeguards are in place in case of misunderstandings, as well as contribute towards the self-employed status of the associate.

This advice for associates and practice owners describes our template contracts for associates which can be found on each country's page.

Key learning points:


This advice should help you to develop a suitable associate agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of the owner and the associate (and avoid some of the pitfalls). It explains:

  • How the working arrangements are consistent with the associate’s self-employed status and allow the practice owner to retain control of the facilities and services provided
  • Difference between a self-employed businessperson and self-employed worker
  • The facilities and services that are usually provided to associates and the consequent responsibilities of both parties
  • The responsibilities of the associate to provide the agreed services personally or, in specified circumstances, via a locum
  • How the practice owner might protect their goodwill through the use of reasonable and appropriate restrictions on the associate’s departure.