Can Employers Require Vaccinations for Employees?

FluAtWorkLately the media is saturated with disease scares and coupled with a dangerous flu season, many employers are concerned about the well being of their employees. With an increased awareness of diseases in the media, also comes the backlash of personal freedom to choose whether to be vaccinated or not.

As a business owner, you are faced with two questions which pose two very different viewpoints:

  1. Can I legally require employees to be vaccinated?
  2. Should I require employees to be vaccinated?

Can I legally require employees to be vaccinated?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, if you make vaccination a condition upon employment, then the answer is usually yes. If an employee states religious reasons or a disability, then you cannot force vaccination on them. Be aware, that even in some states an employee can also refuse vaccinations on philosophical grounds. If you work with unionized employees, you must collectively bargain with the union before issuing a requirement.

As a company, you can also request vaccination records from your employees, but the confidentiality and record of these files needs to be maintained properly, according to law. This being said, you cannot request vaccination records from a physician without first written consent from the employee.

If you do plan to require vaccinations within your company, we suggest you research and consult with legal representation before implementing the policy.

Should I require employees to be vaccinated?

Many factors determine whether you should require your employees to be vaccinated and understanding these factors will better help you determine if you want to implement a new policy in your workplace.

While media hypes up all forms of disease, the chance of having an outbreak within your office is rare.

Employees may feel attacked and offended by the sudden requirement, thereby reducing employee morale.

Your HR staff may find the new policy to be extremely difficult and an administrative burden.

Currently, employers are finding alternative ways to help prevent the spread of disease in their workplace by implementing new policies to encourage a healthy work environment. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Encourage employees to get vaccinated by discussing the benefits of vaccinations
  2. Have a third party provider administer vaccinations onsite
  3. Paying employees who receive vaccinations
  4. Discuss how to prevent the spread of disease by hand washing and sanitizing their workstations
  5. Implement policies to require employees to stay home if they aren’t feeling well

Consider your own personal employment location and who your employees come in contact with each day. Your own judgement of this situation will help you determine the best way to proceed with vaccinations in your workplace.

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