The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

December 20, 2013

Watercooler: Boss' plan for flu vaccine comes with a sting

— Q: Flu season is upon us, and I've offered my 10-person staff the flu vaccine, dispensed at our office by a registered nurse. The vaccine will be provided during normal working hours at no cost to employees.

A few have declined with excuses that they are afraid of needles or "never get sick." The staff is in physically close contact, and the work that we do passes among staff members throughout the day.

I am 67 and have a number of ailments that would be exacerbated by my getting the flu. I also am the project lead for two urgent contracts that involve the entire staff's participation.

Any staff members who won't get the vaccine at the office or at their doctor (nasal spray is OK) will be required to wear disposable gloves and a mask at work for the whole season.

Am I unreasonable? Is there a Virginia employment regulation that would prevent me from implementing this rule?

A: In a medical facility charged with protecting public health, having non-vaccinated staff members wear masks and gloves might make sense. But your letter suggests that this is not a medical office and that your primary concern is your own health. While I sympathize with your vulnerability and realize your team can ill afford to lose you, imposing special dress requirements on workers who refuse a medical procedure seems intrusive. It is also potentially actionable if those employees declined the vaccine for religious or medical reasons, or consider being subject to a special dress code a form of discrimination, according to Declan Leonard of employment law firm Berenzweig Leonard. Finally, even if everyone were vaccinated, you could still fall prey to a bug not blocked by the vaccine.

The good news is, your plan to sponsor free vaccinations at the office is both legal and — according to federal guidelines — the best way to protect workers during flu season.

Text Only
Business
  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

Business Video
Stocks