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Arbitrator Strikes Down Policy Requiring Staff to Accept Flu Shots
May 3, 2002

An Ontario arbitrator has struck down a policy requiring staff of St. Peter’s Health System, a public geriatric hospital, to accept flu shots. The arbitration board held that the employer’s policy, which required employees to submit to a flu shot if more than two patients in the facility were ill with flu, constituted an assault on employees. The employer’s flu shot policy provided that employees who refused to submit to the flu shot would be suspended from work without pay until the outbreak subsided. The Board determined that the policy contravened employees’ rights to security of the person, under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that it was a breach of the collective agreement for the employer to impose the flu shot as a condition of employment, in the absence of the union’s express agreement or a regulation of the Medical Health Officer. The Board directed the employer to compensate any employees for lost time as a result of a suspension under the policy.

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