Can mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers be held as a condition of employment if the policy was instituted after your hire date?

Additionally, there is no state law that provides that a HC employee must comply to mandatory flu vaccinations. I am directly opposed to flu vaccinations due to personal beliefs and a health condition that falls “outside” of the CDC’s recommended exemptions. Even through I am an employee in good standing I will be terminated for non-compliance. Since this is not a performance related issue, am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Asked on August 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, a health care provider can require flu vaccinations for employees--that is a legal (and reasonable) requirement for employment, such as to avoid exposing patients to the flu.

2) If you refuse to get the vaccination, which is reasonably related to the employer's needs, then you would be disobeying company policy and/or the direct instructions of your supervisor(s); in either event, your employer could elect to treat your termination as firing "for cause" and deny you unemployment benefits.

If you can't or won't get  flu vacines, health care may not be the field for you, the same way that  someone who is very sensitive to the sun should not have an outdoor job (especially in summer)--some positions can require actions or impose health requirements which are not compatible with your own needs.

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