Despite a refreshing sense of goodwill that has pervaded throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the impact on UK charities has been devastating and many have had to close their doors for good. The recent easing of Government restrictions on non-essential shops has given a ray of hope to many organisations who could not trade for several long months.
If your charity is planning to reopen any of its shops, community centres or workspaces, you should be following the new Government guidelines to keep your staff and the public safe. The guidelines have been issued to ensure all spaces are “COVID Secure” and meet social distancing and hygiene standards, which authorities will have the power to enforce if needed.
To help you get back to business safely, we’ve looked at the Government guidance and what you’ll need to consider as you and your staff return to work.
Return to the risk assessment
It is your legal responsibility to protect the health of your employees, volunteers, customers and visitors. There is plenty of advice on working safely during the outbreak from the Health and Safety Executive, and your charity should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment before reopening.
Employees and volunteers
The advice still stands that people should work from home wherever possible. If your charity can reopen with new COVID Secure measures, you should first check whether your staff feel safe returning and respect their concerns. You should initially limit your workforce to those who are absolutely essential, and pay close attention to those classified as vulnerable.
As you slowly bring more people back to work, you may need to split shifts to prevent staff coming into contact during changeover. Try to keep staff within the same shift groups to limit the number of new contacts.
With so many new regulations, you must make every employee aware of all your updated safety procedures before their first shift back. Keep everyone informed with clear messaging, especially for anyone whose first language is not English.
While reopening, you should ensure that everyone can be 2 metres apart where possible, including when entering and exiting the premises. If this is simply impossible for essential activities then you should introduce additional measures such as screens and barriers, hand washing facilities, and limit time spent doing the activity. Staff should also follow social distancing rules while travelling to and from work.
Customers and visitors
To maintain social distancing, you will likely need to limit the number of people who can enter your premises at one time. If it’s a charity shop, encourage customers to browse alone and implement a sensible queueing system. Provide hand sanitising facilities for customers to use upon entering and exiting your building.
Cleaning and hygiene
You should take all the necessary steps to ensure your charity's premises is clean before reopening, and kept clean from there on. Put extra measures in place to build awareness of good hygiene practices, for example by limiting handling of stock and keeping clothes fitting rooms closed.
Personal Protective Equipment
It’s a source of great global debate on which the UK Government has sent mixed messages. Currently, if you already use PPE, the Government urges you to continue to do so, but they are not enforcing it on non-clinical businesses. If your workplace necessitates PPE, you should provide it free of charge to staff and make sure it fits them properly.
If your employees choose to wear face coverings, you must support them in using these safely. However, the evidence so far suggests that face masks may not protect the wearer but may protect others if the wearer has the virus.
Diligence during deliveries
If your charity has incoming and outgoing stock, you should arrange for collections and deliveries to be done with minimum contact. Consider putting in larger orders less often to reduce the number of deliveries you receive.
Your charity will most likely have to make many changes to comply with the Government’s COVID-19 advice. If you have any concerns about how this could affect your current insurance, or are considering amending certain areas of your policy, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0345 040 7702.
Timetables and guidelines for reopening differ between different parts of the UK, different sectors, types organisations and activities. COVID-19 guidance is frequently being updated, so please check Government advice regularly.
You can find more information on reopening your organisation from:
the Health and Safety Executive:
- Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- COVID-19 Risk Assessment
- Cleaning your workplace to reduce risk from COVID-19