With the "baby steps" being made towards easing lockdown restrictions and returning to a "new normal" all charities and businesses alike will need to be looking at how that is going to happen and what works for each organisation.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has given very valuable support to charities in relation to preserving the jobs of staff. It does not however solve the fundamental problem that it has been estimated that over £4 billion will be lost to charities in the country during the lockdown as a result of the restrictions and repercussions of the ongoing financial crisis. Bringing back staff from furlough leave is going to be a very important process in getting the timing right but also the detail of this given that the staff retention scheme "rules" are going to be changing to require employers to contribute towards the 80% payment of salary.
Perhaps of more fundamental importance is going to be how people return to work and what the "new normal" is going to be. What level of personal protection equipment is going to be needed for each individual workplace and how are staff as well as service users going to be made to feel safe in returning to work and what that environment is going to look like. What degree of sensitivity should be accepted if people refuse to return to work whatever level of PPE is put in place?
As we all start to unravel the repercussions of lockdown the role of trustees and senior management has never been more crucial. Making fundamental decisions about cash flow and the timing of staff returning to work is going to be massively difficult and different for each charity or organisation. For many, continuing to work from home will not just be the preferred option but the practical solution to making sure that social distancing can take place and again people feel secure and safe in their working environment. All of this is completely new ground for everyone and getting the balance right between health and safety as opposed to finances is incredibly difficult.
We are expecting that the role of our charities department in giving advice upon the options and repercussions is going to be very important going forward. Of even greater concern is that all charities continue to comply with their own internal governance procedures to ensure that decision making continues to be made in the way that the charity has wanted it to be done and has in the past done. That new way of working will involve remote meetings and discussions rather than meetings in person but it does not stop how important these things are and will continue to be going forward.
Clapham & Collinge regularly deliver virtual legal updates to charities where we aim to provide participants with essential legal guidance to help charities navigate through these unchartered waters. Our next virtual legal update is taking place on Friday 5th June from 11.00am. Click here to register or for more information.
For more information on the legal services we offer to charities, visit our dedicated charity services webpage, call 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.