The amount of information and guidance being published and the speed with which things are changing may leave many charities wondering where to start.
We highlight some key areas for your charity to consider as you plan a return to the workplace.
Whilst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak poses new hazards and challenges for everyone, it is worth going back to health and safety basics in order to understand that the overarching duties owed by charitable organisations remain substantially the same.
Particular points to consider:
There is lots of guidance out there (some of it conflicting), but we always recommend that you start with the following before considering any relevant sector specific guidance:
Once you have reviewed the more general guidance, you should also consider any sector specific guidance. For example, the Government's suite of 14 separate guides including:
The Government's COVID-19: Guidance for safe use of multi-purpose community facilities guidance also contains some general guidance about the use of community centres, village halls and other multi-use community facilities.
Depending on the sector in which your charity operates, there may also be further detailed guidance produced by specific organisations in partnership with the relevant Government department. For example, see guidance that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has contributed to.
In addition to ensuring that you comply with your health and safety obligations, it is important that charities continue to have regard to your overarching safeguarding obligation to take reasonable steps to protect all those who come into contact with your charity from harm.
This includes a charity's staff and volunteers as well as all those it works with.
The Charity Commission has emphasised that "now more than ever it is critical to ensure that charities protect and safeguard their beneficiaries, volunteers and staff".
The Charity Commission expects all trustees to ensure that their charity takes appropriate steps to fulfil this obligation, including ensuring that it:
Charities will need to ensure that their policies and procedures are reviewed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and are updated as necessary to ensure they remain fit for purpose and in accordance with the latest guidance. This includes support for mental health challenges and changes to staff codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures where necessary.
You should also ensure that staff and volunteers receive additional training so that they are able to handle safeguarding concerns effectively and in accordance with any new procedures in place.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has also issued specific guidance aimed at helping charities to support their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and keep them safe.
VWV has prepared many resources and frequently asked questions which are available on our free, Charities OnStream platform to help you understand some of the key issues you may be faced with arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
This includes topics such as:
VWV can also provide bespoke advice relating to your coronavirus-related health and safety, safeguarding, employment queries and concerns.