Some industries place a higher importance on protecting their customers and employees from sicknesses. In these industries, like healthcare and food service, keeping encouraging employees to stay healthy can not only benefit the employees, but also protect customers. In the case of hospitals, flu vaccines can help to limit the risk of employees spreading the infectious flu to patients that may have a weakened immune system due to their personal health situation.
With food service companies like restaurants and catering, having a sick employee may mean sick customers. It may also be perceived as bad customer service to see a sick employee handling food that is then given to customers.
In many cases, companies think through whether they want to implement a mandatory flu vaccine policy. Some companies don’t go as far by merely making recommendations to employees for vaccines, making them easy to get at work, or simply ignoring the issue by leaving the choice solely up to the employee.
Any company stance on flu vaccines should be completely approved by your legal support team. Many states have their own laws regarding whether companies can create these kinds of policies or not. And, more and more states are now creating rules that require health care workers to receive vaccines.
Implementing a policy that is most likely to stand up in court is to document the policy and make extensive efforts to educate and inform your employees of the policy.
If you deal with labor unions, take note the National labor Relations Act made mandatory flu vaccine policies a mandatory subject of bargaining. You must alert the union of the desire to create the policy and allow them to either bargain over it, or to waive their right to bargain.
Implementation of a mandatory policy means your leadership and managers will be asked to police the policy. Your team should prepare for how to track whether employees have had a vaccination or not. This is typically handled through employees handing in documentation showing that they have had the vaccination. But, if they don’t your policy should provide clear instructions on how to handle the situation of an employee being out of compliance. Requesting and documenting the reason for the employee’s refusal.
Case law varies but generally defends an individual’s right to abide by their beliefs and religion.

As a business owner, or HR executive, it is important to understand that vaccines do not get rid of the risk of sickness. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that the 2012-2013 flu vaccine only prevented the flu in about 60 percent of the cases. You should consider whether having a mandatory policy is the best way to go with your company culture. In some cases, it may be less effort and more effective to implement a recommendation to get the vaccine, rather than requiring it. You also need to make sure the policy takes into account what situations would create an exception for employees. For example, an employee may have a medical condition that make a flu vaccine dangerous or abnormally risky for them.

Modern Business Associates is an HR company that focuses on payroll and HR outsourcing. We routinely work with clients on benefits and compliance issues. As a Professional Payroll and HR outsource organization, our clients rely on us to help them effectively