New Delhi: After serving repeated reminders, the Dental Council of India (DCI) has now warned private dental colleges of taking action if they failed to submit the proof of paying salaries to their employees last year.
The DCI is a statutory body that regulates dental education and profession across the country.
With the dental business taking a hit during the Covid pandemic, the DCI suspected job losses and salary cuts in dental colleges, prompting it to ask them to furnish proof of paying salaries in the last one year. But even after several reminders, self-financed dental colleges have been unable to furnish the proof.
The DCI has sent several circulars to dental universities and colleges since March last year, asking them not to slash salaries or lay off their employees during Covid-19 “as their physical absence was not voluntarily but due to the pandemic”.
The council has now given the colleges 15 days’ time to furnish the proof.
“… despite having issued several advisories and its reminders, out of 265 self-financed dental colleges, only some of the dental colleges have furnished their bank statement to this Council, which are not sufficient to ascertain as to whether it has paid the salary of its staff or not during the said period,” said the letter, accessed by ThePrint, addressed to the principals of self-financed dental colleges.
“Moreover, some of the dental colleges no doubt have furnished their bank statement but are not complete to ensure the compliance of the advisories,” said the letter dated 4 January.
The letter warned colleges of taking “stringent” action against them. “Most of the dental colleges, in spite of several reminders, are still defaulter as they have not provided their bank statement, which definitely amounts to a serious lapse on their part and requires taking stringent action against them.”
The letter, signed by Alka Mehta, DCI’s deputy secretary, said, “It (the letter) may be treated as the last and final opportunity of furnishing of statement on payment of salary of teaching, non-teaching, administrative staff, and other staff by staff working in the self-financed dental colleges…”
Asking the colleges to submit the proof within 15 days, the letter said “failing to which necessary action will be taken against such defaulting dental colleges”.
It concluded that “in the view of above, the aforesaid decision of the executive committee of the DCI is communicated for further necessary action”. The executive committee meeting of the DCI took place on 14 December.
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Dental profession hit due to Covid
Dental business was hit hard during the pandemic as the profession deals with oral health, and chances of transmission of aerosols are high, leading to increased risk of infection to dentists. Moreover, patients also delayed their pending procedures as they were worried about contracting the infection.
According to a peer-reviewed research article published in October in BMC Oral Health, the direct relationship between dental treatment or surgery and the possibility of the transmission of Covid has not been established.
However, it said, “There is clearly the potential for transmission. Therefore, following the protective protocols in the Covid-19 crisis is of utmost importance in a dental setting.”
A top official at DCI told ThePrint, “Several members of the council have been informed about the job losses and salary cuts as dentists. While dentists are at higher risk of infection, they are still back to work, but patient footfall has also gone down.”
Several reminders given before sending final warning
Since the announcement of the lockdown in March, the DCI has sent several circulars — in April, June, October and November — to the dental universities and colleges across the country “to not to cut or deduct salaries or lay off their employees during Covid-19 as their physical absence was not voluntarily but due to the pandemic”.
According to the letter, starting March, the DCI has requested self-financed colleges to “extend the cooperation and contribute to the national cause by not cutting/deducting their salaries and laying off any faculty and other employees working with them and also to make their regular payment on time”.
“Such colleges were again reminded on 18 June for the same. On 3 November, the reminder was sent again and requested to ensure the payment of their salary and not to treat their quarantine period as unpaid leave,” it said, adding that these colleges have “charged the prescribed tuition fee from its students even for a period of lockdown”.
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