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As we prepare to move our content to our new website this summer, we're turning off the ability to sign in on ncvo.org.uk and knowhow.ncvo.org.uk.

To ensure members can still access everything they need, member content will be available to all users until the end of July.

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Managing covid risk

This page is free to all
This page explains how voluntary organisations can work in a way that reduces the risk of people transmitting covid-19. It includes links to relevant government guidance, practical ideas of how to undertake a risk assessment and change the way you work. This page is for anyone who works in voluntary organisations, including trustees, leaders, staff and volunteers.

Living with covid-19

On 21 February 2022, the government announced plans to lift all remaining covid-19 restrictions. The plan is set out in section three of the paper, Living with Covid-19 on GOV.UK.

Under this new strategy:

  • Work – Employees and employers can make arrangements about returning to the workplace. While it's no longer necessary for employers to explicitly address covid-19 issues in any risk assessments, employers may still choose to do so. Employers should continue to carry out health and safety risk assessments and follow official public health guidance. Workplaces should refer to guidance on reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including covid-19, in the workplace on GOV.UK to understand the risks within their premises and to know what mitigations to adopt.
  • Volunteering – People can volunteer at home, outside of their home and/or in their workplace. To learn more about involving volunteers at this time, see our involving volunteers section.
  • Meeting others – In order to minimise risk to yourself and others at a time of high prevalence, you can still take certain precautions.
    • Getting vaccinated. For more information read our covid-19 vaccination guidance.
    • When meeting indoors try to let fresh air in. Meeting outdoors is safer.
    • If in a crowded or enclosed space, wear a face mask to protect yourself and others.
    • If you have symptoms of covid-19, you should stay at home and avoid contact with others. You should also get a PCR test as soon as possible.
    • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds.
  • Face masks– You're no longer required to wear a face mask by law. Some businesses and transport operators may still request that you wear a face mask, meaning you may be refused entry if you refuse to comply.
  • Holiday – If you're planning to travel internationally, you should check what you need to do before you travel. Read the guidance to plan for your travel on GOV.UK.

Covid-19 testing

  • There’s no law in England that requires people to be tested for covid-19.
  • From 1 April 2022 the government's no longer providing free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England. There's limited symptomatic testing for a small number of at risk groups, including those who:
    • have a health condition meaning they're eligible for covid-19 treatments
    • are going to hospital for surgery or a procedure
    • work in the NHS or social care.
  • Further details of groups that are eligible for free testing can be found on the NHS website.
  • If you want to get tested in England, you can buy a covid-19 test from some pharmacies and retailers in person or online. You can't order tests by calling 119.
  • Organisations may want to encourage staff and volunteers to take regular rapid lateral flow tests to prevent the spread of covid-19, by those without symptoms. This may be particularly useful:
    • where individuals haven't been fully vaccinated
    • during periods of higher risk where people are going to the workplace
    • when spending a prolonged period of time with a vulnerable individual.
  • Employers may want to consider introducing a specific policy to outline their approach to covid-19 testing for staff and volunteers. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has developed a template mass-testing for covid-19 policy which adopts a voluntary approach.

Covid-19 vaccination programme

Working safely during covid-19

Carrying out a covid-19 workplace risk assessment

  • It's no longer necessary for employers to explicitly address covid-19 issues in any risk assessments. Employers may still choose to cover covid-19 in their risk assessment. From a health and safety perspective, employers should continue to carry out health and safety risk assessments and follow official public health guidance.
  • There's a requirement to protect those who will come into contact with the virus due to their work activity. 
  • You can find advice for people who may be at higher risk such as those who are immunosuppressed.
  • There's a legal obligation to write down your risk assessment if you have five employees or more. If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do.
  • Employers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. 
  • Employers should also talk to and consult their staff and volunteers as they’re doing their risk assessments. They may provide useful feedback.
  • Once completed, the risk assessment should be shared with staff and volunteers. Employers may also want to consider publishing their risk assessments on their website. 
  • Employers should put monitoring and supervision mechanisms in place, to make sure the controls that have been put in place are working as they should be.
  • NCVO members can download a generic risk assessment template for charities on NCVO Knowhow.
  • You can find further health and safety advice for managing covid-19 in the workplace on the HSE website.

    Cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

    Ensuring sufficient ventilation in your workplace

    • Employers are required by law to make sure that there's an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed areas of the workplace.
    • Ventilation helps reduce the amount of virus in the air. It reduces the risk of spreading covid-19 by aerosol transmission. This transmission happens when someone breathes in small particles in the air (aerosols) after a person with the virus has been in the same enclosed area.
    • You can reduce the risk of aerosol transmission:
      • naturally by allowing fresh air to come in through open windows, door or air vents
      • mechanically by bringing air in through fans and ducts.
    • Your ventilation is likely to be adequate to reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission if the rooms or spaces in your workplace:
      • are used within the occupancy limits specified in the building design
      • have a sufficient fresh air supply to meet the current minimum building standard.

    Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

    • The use of PPE is only required for certain healthcare activities.
    • PPE doesn't include face coverings and face masks. See our guidance for the use of face covering and face masks.
    • In non-clinical settings you can provide the same PPE as you did before the pandemic.
    • If your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to staff and volunteers who need it. HSE has developed guidance on using PPE at work.

    Use of face coverings and face masks

    NHS Covid Pass

      • The compulsory use of covid certification in England has come to an end. Event organisers for certain venues and events are no longer legally required to use the NHS Covid Pass.
      • The NHS Covid Pass can be used to check that attendees are fully vaccinated, have recently recorded a negative test result, or are exempt.
      • Organisations can choose to use the NHS Covid Pass voluntarily and should consider doing so if in a high risk setting, for example NHS, social care and prisons, and/or operating a venue where large crowds gather and people are likely to mix. 
      • Organisations should consider how covid-19 status checks fits with their legal obligations, such as health and safety and equalities legislation. 
      • If your organisation is using covid-19 status checks as a condition of entry at a venue or event, data protection legislation will apply when processing personal data. You can find further information about what you need to consider around the use of personal data with the relaxation of government measures on the Information Commissioner’s Office's website.
      • If you're 18 or over you can get an NHS Covid Pass for travel abroad and domestic events depending on your vaccination status or covid-19 test result.
      • A digital version of the NHS Covid Pass is available using the NHS app or online NHS Covid Pass service. You'll need your NHS number. You should check the expiry date before using it.
      • An NHS Covid Pass letter can be sent to you by post. You can use your letter at venues in England where you need to prove your covid-19 status two weeks after you've been fully vaccinated. You can request a Covid Pass letter online or call 119 (don't call if you're travelling in more than four weeks time). The letter doesn't have an expiry date.
      • Guidance on carrying out mandatory covid-19 status checks at your venue or event is available on GOV.UK.
      Page last edited May 04, 2022

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