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We’ve made our member-only resources free to everyone because of the current situation. We think it’s important people have the guidance they need to run their organisations during this time.

If you want to find out more about how you can volunteer to help deal with coronavirus, see our volunteering and coronavirus page.

If you are looking for advice on coronavirus and your charity, please see our dedicated coronavirus page.

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Protecting your staff, volunteers and beneficiaries

This page is free to all
Information on protecting and supporting the people working in your charity or voluntary organisation, and those who use your services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Preventing the spread of covid-19

  • Government advice is to stay at home, and people are currently required not to leave their homes without reasonable excuse by law. This includes working from home if at all possible. See our advice on working from home.
  • If you are going out, you must stay maintain a two-metre distance from people where possible.
  • People should only be travelling to work where this is clearly essential.
  • Wash your hands often with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Government advice is to reduce social interaction between people. The advice includes the social distancing measures we should all be taking, including working from home where possible.

Protecting staff, volunteers and visitors

  • Government advice is to stay at home, and people are currently required not to leave their homes without reasonable excuse by law. This includes working from home if at all possible. People should only be travelling to work where this is clearly essential.
  • Several commercial premises are now required to be closed by law. Where this is not the case, charities should consider whether premises need to be open, since staff should be working from home wherever possible.
  • The government has released guidance on covid-19 and the charity sector.
  • Information: Provide clear information using your charity’s communication channels. Put posters up in your workplace, if it is still required to be open, and email staff with key information. 
  • Handwashing facilities: Handwashing facilities should be available and well supplied. More regular handwashing may require more supplies. Provide hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products around your buildings for staff and visitors. GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques (PDF, 130KB) which can be displayed around the workplace.  
  • Cleaning regimes: Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours. Frequently clean key areas including keyboards and door handles. 
  • There is government advice on social carehomecare and educational settings you may want to review if they apply to your organisation. 
  • Review travel arrangements. The government is strongly advising the avoidance of all non-essential travel on public transport. Are there possible alternatives such as video conferencing? Maintain updated and clear advice for staff travelling. 
  • Read NCVO guidance to understand how you can volunteer to help and support others during this time.
  • Ensure emergency contact details are up to date.
  • In relation to data protection, Bates Wells have offered advice on what information you can collect, how you can collect it, and how you can use and share it while staying compliant. 
  • For specific HR-related coronavirus enquires, NCVO members can contact Croner.
  • In relation to date protection, Bates Wells have offered advice on what information you can collect, how you can collect it, and how you can use and share it while staying compliant.

Employees' rights and sick leave entitlements

  • Since 23 March, the government has advised people to stay at home.
  • Since 26 March, people have been legally required not to leave their homes without reasonable excuse.
  • People can travel to and from work, but only if they cannot work from home.
  • Staff should stay at home for 14 days if someone in their household has symptoms of covid-19.
  • If other members of the household develop symptoms during the 14 days, then they must not leave the home for seven days from when these symptoms started.
  • Those who display symptoms of covid-19 do not need to call the NHS to go into self-isolation. If these symptoms continue or worsen after seven days, then contact NHS 111 online. Those without access to the internet should call NHS 111.
  • Those in self-isolation should also refer to the government’s stay at home guidance.
  • Employees who are recommended to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave and statutory sick pay. 
  • If employees are required to self-isolate due to covid-19 or displaying a high temperature or a new continuous cough then they would qualify for statutory sick pay subject to meeting eligibility requirements.
  • Employees are entitled to time off to care for a dependent. There is no statutory right to pay for this time off, but your organisation may already have a policy on this. You may want to consider revisiting this policy for the covid-19 situation.
  • Working Families has coordinated guidance for working families during covid-19.
  • Further advice on employee sick leave and sick pay entitlements can be found on the Acas website.
  • Our HR consultancy Trusted Supplier Croner has also compiled answers to frequently asked questions about covid-19, including self-isolation and sick pay. 
  • If you are considering making use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to ‘furlough’ staff, Bates Wells has produced guidance.

Events, board meetings and AGMs

  • Government guidance is to stay at home where possible. This is likely to impact large scale events and you should consider whether it is appropriate to continue with your charity’s events.
  • If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home.  
  • If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM required by your charity’s constitution, you should refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum. See our advice on coronavirus and governance for more information.
  • Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make.
  • Further advice on planning formal meetings can be found on the Bates Wells website.
  • The Association of Chairs have written a blog post covering issues that chairs need to think about and created a support page with resources that chairs might find useful.

Supporting staff and volunteers to work from home

To reduce the risk of spreading covid-19 the government has stated that people must stay at home where possible. These are some areas to consider in supporting staff and volunteers to work from home:

  • Self-care: When working from home it is good to create a space between work and personal time, where possible. This could mean setting your working hours, working in a different room, putting your laptop away. Mind has released guidance on covid-19 and caring for your mental health during self-isolation.
  • Hardware: Staff will need access to computers and a good internet connection. Are you able to provide them with laptops to bring home? Where possible avoid having staff use personal devices, as this can cause issues in relation to security and data protection.
  • Software: Choose the right tools to suit your teams’ needs. Do you need a shared messaging system or a video conferencing system?
  • Meetings: Can you conduct your meeting via video conferencing or over the phone? Appoint a chair to run the meetings and select the next speaker to ensure you’re not shouting over each other.
  • Processes: Consider your team’s day-to-day processes and what’s essential to continue. What are the normal ways you share information, tasks and feedback? Can these be done when working remotely? Allow for trial-and-error. These processes can change and develop to best suit your team’s needs.
  • Support: Working remotely will bring challenges and cause disruptions to the daily working routine. It’s important that staff feel supported. Be flexible.
  • Civil Society have published an article on remote working and Zurich have also issued guidance on considerations when working from home.
  • There are many resources on offer to support charities working remotely during the covid-19 crisis. The Catalyst is providing digital guidance and support for charities. CAST have issued a guide specifically for remote meetings. Digital Candle is offering a free one hour of digital guidance for charities.

Supporting beneficiaries/service users

  • Generally, infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. See the section on resources from charities for different groups
  • Some of your service users or beneficiaries may be more at risk or highly concerned about the virus. 
  • This time of uncertainty and self-isolation may be impacting on some of your beneficiaries’ mental health including feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
  • Where possible, it is important that your charity provides them with clear and updated information on prevention measures, government action and your charity’s response and explain how this will impact or benefit your beneficiaries.
  • NCVO will be working alongside the NHS and the Health and Wellbeing Alliance on how best to support vulnerable service users and people in our communities, and we’ll keep NCVO members updated with the latest information on this. 

Supporting members of communities facing discrimination

  • Members of some communities are experiencing acts of racism, discrimination and verbal abuse with the outbreak of the virus. 
  • Covid-19 does not discriminate and the containment or spread of the virus is not based on ethnicity. 
  • These communities must feel supported and know that these acts of discrimination should not be tolerated. 
  • Stop Hate UK are providing anyone experiencing or witnessing such discrimination with a confidential 24-hour third-party reporting service


Page last edited Apr 06, 2020

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