The HR Specialist

Can we require employees to get flu shots?

10/06/2009

Q. We want all our employees to have flu shots to prevent illnesses (and all the disruption that goes with time off). Can we require the shots and discipline employees who refuse? — M.A., Ohio

A.
Requiring employees to get a flu shot—and disciplining those who don’t—is certain to cause turmoil in your workplace, and it could create morale problems and possible legal headaches. Such a requirement would, at the very least, need to account for disability and religious accommodation obligations. Even a carefully drafted policy, however, may still run afoul of many states’ human rights laws and prohibitions against invasion of privacy.

That’s why this is one area in which a “carrot” approach is a better course of action. Educate employees about the importance of obtaining vaccinations. You may also want to provide vaccinations at work or help facilitate employees obtaining vaccinations. You can also point them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations regarding the seasonal flu at www.cdc.gov/flu.

Influenza pandemic: Online employer resources


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