B.C. policy requiring health-care workers to get flu shot or wear masks upheld

VANCOUVER – A British Columbia arbitrator has upheld a provincial government policy requiring health-care workers in the province to get a flu shot or wear a mask while caring for patients during flu season.

The ruling from the arbitrator says the policy is a valid exercise of the employer’s management rights.

Arbitrator Robert Diebolt dismissed the grievance brought by the B.C. Health Sciences Association, which represents about 16,000 health-care workers.

The disputed policy requires health-care workers to be vaccinated against flu each year, or to wear masks while caring for patients during flu season.

Diebolt writes in his decision that given the seriousness of influenza, a program that increases immunization rates in the health-care setting is a reasonable policy.

He says he is persuaded there is a rational connection between the policy and patient safety.

Diebolt says it’s important to note British Columbia is not alone in instituting a flu shot policy for health-care workers. Many U.S. institutions have already put in place such requirements.

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