No matter where your nonprofit or social service organization is located, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely impacted you in multiple ways. Keeping your staff and members of the public safe while maintaining operations is not an easy task.
These best practices and precautionary measures can help your organization navigate this unfamiliar territory and decrease risk in the process:
One of the simplest, yet arguably most effective, precautionary steps you can take is implementing safety protocols in your organization.
Encourage staff and visitors to wash their hands frequently. Some organizations have made hand sanitizer readily available throughout their locations and have stepped up their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
If your state or municipality has not made masks or other PPE mandatory, consider requiring them for your staff and encouraging use by vendors, members of the public, and other visitors to your space. Encourage social distancing, to the extent possible, for anyone on the premises.
Despite your best efforts to create a safe environment, it is possible that your organization could experience an outbreak. Be prepared before that happens by creating contingency, business continuity, and disaster recovery plans tailored to your operations. Make these plans available to directors, managers, and key employees. In the event the worst happens, you will have the framework ready to implement.
Just as important as having plans in place to deal with a COVID-19 event is identifying who will be responsible for carrying out those plans. Create an emergency response team, comprised of members who are able and willing to spring into action should they need to do so. Make sure each team member understands their role.
One area where well-intentioned nonprofits may risk legal liability is by saying something, or doing something, they are not legally allowed to say or do. Understand your legal obligations and rights, as well as employees’ rights and obligations, related to COVID-19. For example, you have the right to send an employee home if they appear to be sick with COVID-19 symptoms. However, you cannot force that employee to receive medical care.
Know what is and isn’t allowed, consulting with employment law counsel as necessary, and communicate frequently with front-line managers and supervisors.
Nonprofit and social service organizations, particularly those that were closed for a period of time earlier this year because of COVID-19, may also not be up to speed on the latest federal and state regulations related to employment law.
Talk to legal counsel as needed about your obligations related to time off policies for employees under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) signed into law in March 2020, the FMLA, and any applicable state regulations.
For many nonprofits, fundraisers and in-person galas are their lifeblood. Unfortunately, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is causing organizations to re-evaluate these events and modify their plans.
Consider holding events virtually, or redesigning in-person events with safety in mind. If you decide to hold live fundraising events or other types of gatherings, talk to your insurance professional and attorney as you are making plans, and be sure to comply with all local, state, and national guidelines.
Because COVID-19 is a new threat, there is much the experts still do not know. Guidance can, and does, change periodically based on new information or findings. Monitor guidance from the CDC, WHO, OSHA, and your state and local health departments so you can adjust your policies, procedures, and response plans as needed.
Chances are good that your insurance needs have changed based on your revised operations. You may be entitled to premium credits or refunds, or may need to consider purchasing additional types of insurance coverage to mitigate your organization’s risks. Contact your insurance professional for a review and to update coverages, as needed.
Having the right insurance protection with coverage levels designed to meet your organization’s needs can be instrumental in helping you mitigate risk. Every organization faces liability risk, of course. However, when you are prepared to meet those risks head on, you can continue furthering your organization’s mission with confidence during this trying time.
Contact Lamb Insurance Services today to learn more about how we work with nonprofit and social service organizations, helping them mitigate their risks related to property and liability, employee benefits, workers’ compensation, and more.