Q. Because this season’s flu outbreak was so severe, next fall we would like to require all our employees to get a flu vaccine. We hope this will cut down on employee absences during flu season. Would such a policy be lawful?
A. Requiring employees to get vaccinations, such as an influenza vaccine, is a common practice among health care employers. That is because employees in the health care industry have close and frequent contact with vulnerable patients.
While uncommon in other industries, a mandatory vaccine policy would not be unlawful.
As a general rule, most employers may institute a mandatory vaccine policy and fire workers for not complying with the policy in accordance with the employment-at-will doctrine (meaning employers may fire employees for any reason that is not unlawful). Exceptions include instances in which the employee is working under a contract or a labor agreement that bars such a policy.
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