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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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Supporting staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and keeping safe

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.

Prevention and social distancing

Risk assessment

  • Before restarting work, organisations must ensure the safety of their workplace by carrying out a risk assessment in line with HSE guidance.  
  • You 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. 
  • Once you have completed your risk assessment you should share the results with your workforce and consider publishing the results on your website. The government has issued a notice for you to display in your workplace to show you’ve followed this guidance. 
  • Use our risk register template to help you identify and manage key risks.  

Returning to work safely

  • The government’s recovery plan sets out that you should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law.  
  • Before returning to work, the government has set out 5 steps that businesses should take to ensure safe working. 
  • In returning to work, the government has provided guidelines for workplaces   
  • There is specific government advice on social careeducation and childcare you may want to review.  
  • In the workplace, where possible, a 2m distance should be kept between peopleThis can be done by putting up signs or using floor tape to remind employees about the social distancing measures. Avoiding shared workstations.  Arrange one-way traffic through the workplace.  
  • Where it is not possible for people to be 2m apart, the government recommends staying at least 1m apart and taking other precautions to mitigate the risk. This can include using screens or barriers to separate people from each other. Staggering arrival and departure times. Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed terms or partnering..  
  • Have clear, consistent and regular communication with employees and service users to improve understanding and monitor any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments. 
  • St John’s Ambulance have produced a digital tool to help you find out how you can work safely during covid-19. 
  • Eversheds Sutherland have developed a business restoration planning checklist highlighting key areas to consider in returning to work.  
  • Croner, an NCVO Trusted Supplier, have developed a back to work guide for businesses.  
  • The Charity Retail Association has also provided detailed guidance for charity shops on how to re-open. 

Continuing your operation

Cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures  

  • Cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures are key to reducing the risk of coronavirus in the workplace. HSE have produced guidance on cleaning, hygiene and hand sanitiser. 
  • You should increase the level and frequency of cleaning to ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean.  Pay close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. 
  • Workplaces should use signs and posters to help employees and volunteers practice good hand washing techniques. GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques (PDF, 130KB) which can be displayed around the workplace.    
  • 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.  

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)  

  • The use of PPE is not required outside of clinical settings except for a small handful of roles such as first responders. 
  • The government has advised that if you can, you should wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces and where social distancing is not possible.   
  • From 15 June, you must wear a face covering on public transport. 
  • Face covering needs to cover your mouth and nose. The government has developed guidance on how to make a face covering.  
  • 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. Any PPE provided must fit properly. HSE has developed guidance using PPE at work 

Supporting beneficiaries/service users 

  • Some of your service users or beneficiaries may be more at risk or highly concerned about the virus.  
  • 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. 
  • People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.   
  • The government has developed guidance for those who are shielding and protecting those who are clinically vulnerable.  
  • This time of uncertainty and self-isolation may be impacting on some of your beneficiaries’ mental health including feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Mind have developed a list of useful contacts to support with mental and physical wellbeing 
  • 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. 
  • Charities can encourage people who are self-isolating, and need some help with shopping, a prescription collection or a friendly chat, to self-refer for help from NHS volunteers by calling0808 196 3646. For more information see theNHS volunteers’ responders portal.  

Supporting staff and volunteers to work from home  

Employees rights and sick leave entitlement  

  • If staff have symptoms of covid-19, however mild, OR if they have received a positive covid-19 test result, the clear medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least seven days from when the symptoms started. 
  • 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 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 or a loss, or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, then they would qualify for statutory sick pay subject to meeting eligibility requirements.  
  • You should ensure that employees emergency contact details are kept up to date.  
  • 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. Additionally, employees who are unable to work because of caring responsibilities are eligible for the furloughing scheme, see the furloughing section for more details.  
  • Working Families has coordinated guidance for working families during covid-19.  
  • Further advice for employers and employees can be found on the Acas website.  
  • Croner, an NCVO trusted supplier, are offering unlimited access to their HR and employment law helpline to all voluntary sector organisations, free of charge.  Call 0844 561 8133.  
  • For the more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, see our advice on the scheme. 

Annual leave and furlough

  • Employees on furlough continue to build up:
    • statutory holiday entitlements 
    • additional holiday provided under their employment contract.
  • While on furlough employees can take holiday without disrupting the terms of their furlough. For example, if an employee is on furlough for four weeks and takes five days holiday during that furlough period, the start and end dates of that furlough period remain the same and will not be extended by five days. 
  • Employees on furlough can request holiday through the usual channels at work. 
  • Workers on furlough must get their usual pay in full, for any holiday they take while on furlough.
  • Standard notice requirements still apply if:
    • requesting an employee to take holiday
    • refusing a request for holiday. 
  • If requiring an employee to take holiday during furloughconsider any restrictions the employee is under. For example, social-distancing or self-isolation would prevent them from enjoying leisure time - a fundamental purpose of holiday. 
  • As of 27 March, the law changed regarding carrying over annual leave into the next calendar year.   
  • Employees can now carry annual leave forward into the next two years.  This is the case where the impact of covid-19 meant it was not reasonably practicable’ to take leave in that year. To check what can be considered ‘reasonably practicable,’ refer to the government guidance. 
  • For more information on holiday entitlement and pay during covid-19, refer to the government guidance.

Supporting members of the community facing discrimination  

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

Taking an inclusive approach to covid-19   

More information on this can be found in ourblog.  

Guidance for trustees

Trustee duties and responsibilities


  • It is important that your board continues to meet remotely and make collective decisions. Many charities will have a clause that allows remote board meetings either by phone or electronic means. If no such clause exists, and you cannot easily change your governing document, then the Charity Commission advises that you minute your decision to meet virtually.  
  • Our webinar on governing during a pandemic explored some of the key things to think about when meeting remotely and the Association of Chairs has developed some top tips for board meetings during the crisis. 
  • If your charity is hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM required by your charity’s constitution, you should refer to your charity’s governing document to see what it says about delaying, remote participation and quorum. The courts have ruled that a members meeting where people can see and hear each other can be legally binding, provided this is not expressly prohibited in the governing document. This would include videoconferencing. See our guidance on coronavirus and governance for more information.  
  • The impact of covid-19 means that some charities have no choice but to postpone or cancel their AGMs or other meetings.  If this is the case, you need to make sure that you record this decision at a board meeting.  For further information see the Charity Commission guidance.    
  • The government has published the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill 2020.  When it becomes law, this will provide some organisations with flexibility on holding member meetings and apply retrospectively to the point where social distancing measures were implemented. The Bill also allows space to continue trading and potentially avoid insolvency due to financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Read our blog to find out more.    

Webinars on protecting staff, volunteers and beneficiaries

Governing during a pandemic: What are the key things trustees need to be focused on?

Assessing health and safety risk in uncertain times

Board leadership: Supporting your charity though the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic

Making decisions in tough times

Building organisational resilience: Things for small charities to consider

The easing of lockdown: Legal and practical considerations for returning to work

Easing of lockdown – practical considerations for managing and supporting staff

How to manage operational change in a time of uncertainty

Page last edited Jul 30, 2020

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