Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

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Employers have a duty to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace for their staff and volunteers. 

Refer your employees and volunteers to the Department of Health's guidelines on good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus from spreading. Also, refer to the Department's fact sheet that includes information on social distancing in the workplace. Your staff should inform you of any overseas and intestate travel. If someone is returning from self-isolation, quarantine or carer’s leave, employers may insist on medical clearance before allowing employees to return to work.

Scroll down for answers to the following questions on managing permanent and casual employees and volunteers during a crisis:

  1. Can we ask employees to work from home?
  2. How do I make sure we’re meeting our work, health and safety (WHS) requirements when my employees are working from home (WFH)?
  3. Some of our employees now need to care for children at home. Are we obliged to make reasonable adjustments to their work?
  4. I don't think my employees are actually doing any work from home. How do I deal with performance management in this context?
  5. We are a community group providing essential front-line services – what do I do if employees refuse to come into work?
  6. We are a community group providing essential front-line services, could we be held liable if an employee is infected with COVID-19 in the course of their employment?
  7. If an employee contracts COVID-19, will this be covered by workers’ compensation?
  8. What can or should we do to minimise the risk of breaching our duty of care to employees?
  9. How do I manage my employees’ absences and leave entitlements in a time of crisis?
  10. Must employees use their annual leave if they can’t work from home?
  11. Can employees be made to take personal leave?
  12. What if an employee is a carer for someone who is unwell?
  13. Can we force employees to use long service leave if we have to shut down?
  14. Can I stand down employees if there is no useful work for them to do?
  15. What if I have to cancel casual employee shifts because of a COVID-19 outbreak?
  16. Our service relies on volunteers – can we ask them to continue to volunteer with us?
  17. Is it safe to have volunteers ‘volunteering’ right now?
  18. What reasonable precautions can our organisation take to manage our volunteers’ safety?
  19. Could we be held liable if we ask our volunteers to keep volunteering?
  20. Should we let volunteers work from home?
  21. If our volunteers are working from home, do we need to conduct a safety inspection?
  22. How do we prepare for a volunteer workforce shortage?
  23. We are getting lots of interest from people who want to volunteer with us during the COVID-19 outbreak. How do we safely manage this?
  24. Should we have a policy that addresses volunteering in a COVID-19 environment?  

1. Can we ask employees to work from home?

Yes, if an employee is capable of performing their duties from home, or reasonable alternative duties, an employer can direct them to work from home to comply with isolation or quarantine requirements related to COVID-19. If a casual employee can’t work from home, you may need to consider cancelling their shift (more on casual employees below).

What are reasonable alternative duties depends on the employee’s role, their capabilities and their seniority (among other factors). You will also need to check for any relevant terms in the employee’s employment contract or enterprise agreement about giving an employee alternative duties.

2. How do I make sure we’re meeting our work, health and safety (WHS) requirements when my employees are working from home (WFH)?

An employer’s WHS duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, continues to apply when employees are working from home.

You can minimise the risk of breaching this duty by:

  • giving employees guidelines or a checklist on how to set up a safe home work environment (covering, for example, ergonomic work station set up and location, and using power cords safely)
  • having daily communication with employees and checking in with them regularly
  • if applicable, reminding employees they have access to an employee assistance program
  • suggesting ways for employees to stay connected with their team members and other employees (for example, virtual team morning teas or daily quick check ins)
  • reminding employees how they can access IT support when needed
  • appointing a contact person in the organisation who employees can talk to about concerns
  • providing wellbeing tips, to help employees keep their minds and bodies healthy
  • providing information on how to work effectively and productively from home

Normally, before an employee begins to work from home, the employer would likely conduct a physical inspection of the home office set up to make sure it’s safe. In the current environment, this isn’t possible. So, providing the employee with a checklist and guidelines on how to do this is very important, particularly for employees who are not used to working from home.

3. Some of our employees now need to care for children at home. Are we obliged to make reasonable adjustments to their work?

If employees can still perform their required duties, with their children at home, employers should support the employee and they should continue to receive their normal salary.

If employees aren’t able to perform their regular duties from home because of child caring responsibilities, the employer is not obliged to make any adjustments to their work or hours of work. It’s the employee’s responsibility to put appropriate child care arrangements in place.

But employers may choose to reach an agreement with the employee to work less hours or work their hours at different times of the day or week. However, any agreement will need to be in accordance with the terms of an applicable Modern Award or enterprise agreement. For example, if you allow evening work, you need to make sure this doesn’t result in an underpayment issue (as the employee might be entitled to receive penalty rates for working those hours). A variation to the employment contract may be required to facilitate the change in hours.

However, if the employee has to take on unexpected child care responsibilities, for example their child’s school or child care centre closes with little or no notice, the employee would likely be able to access paid carer’s leave for a short period on the basis that this amounted to an ‘unexpected emergency’. But, where the employee received at least 2 weeks’ notice of the pending closure, or where the closure is for a lengthy or indefinite period, it will not be, or continue to be, an ‘unexpected emergency’. After this, it would be at the employer’s discretion whether the employee continues to receive paid carer’s leave.

4. I don't think my employees are actually doing any work from home. How do I deal with performance management in this context?

Effective performance management is still essential even when employees are working from home, and you should follow any performance management policies that are already in place.

An employee’s performance when working from home can be managed effectively by setting up clear expectations and lines of communication. This may include daily catch-ups with employees to check in to see if they are actually doing work from home and setting clear priorities and timelines to complete work.

You could also implement a time sheet system – each day employees list the tasks they worked on and how long they spent on each task. However, timesheets may send a message about lack of trust, so think carefully about using this strategy. If you do start a timesheet system, unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t only apply it to some employees.

Employers should also be mindful that not all tasks that an employee performed in the office may be easily transferrable to the home. Any modifications to duties should be discussed and clearly communicated – for example: ‘as you can no longer do X, I want you to focus on Y, and here is what that involves’.

Further, a task that might have taken two hours to complete in the workplace might take four hours at home. This should be taken into account in assessing an employee’s performance.

It’s also important to make sure that the employee has the necessary tools to perform their work from home, such as IT capabilities.

It may also be necessary to discuss changing an employee’s hours if they have child caring obligations during the day which prevent them from working during standard business hours (see above).

5. We are a community group providing essential front-line services – what do I do if employees refuse to come into work?

If an employee has no reasonable basis to refuse to attend work, (they haven’t travelled overseas or been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and they aren’t displaying symptoms of any illness, but is nonetheless concerned about COVID-19) any absence would need to be by agreement with the employer.

For example, the employer may allow the employee to work from home (if this is practicable), use their annual leave, or grant the employee a period of unpaid leave.

If the employee simply refuses to attend work without a reasonable basis, and without the employer’s agreement, the employer may need to advise the employee that a failure to attend work is a breach of their contract of employment, which may lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

6. We are a community group providing essential front-line services, could we be held liable if an employee is infected with COVID-19 in the course of their employment?

This is possible, but, in the absence of negligence on the part of the employer, liability is unlikely.

The primary common law liability risk for employers will be alleged negligence for breaching your duty of care. An employer may only be liable if it failed to protect an employee by taking reasonable steps to prevent their exposure to the virus.

Failure to take reasonable precaution may include:

  • not acting quickly enough to send an infected employee home
  • not permitting the employee to work from home when this was reasonably practical and there was a heightened risk of infection in the workplace
  • not providing employees with appropriate personal protective equipment, or
  • not implementing appropriate and reasonable safety-related protocols such as providing hand sanitiser and observing social distancing where reasonably practical

Employers are also under obligations at a state and territory level to comply with work, health and safety laws. A failure to take reasonable steps in response to COVID-19, may also amount to a breach of the employer’s statutory duty of care to provide a safe workplace.

For these reasons, all employers must have a multi-pronged COVID-19 response plan in place that is under constant review, and regularly updated and communicated to all workers as the COVID-19 outbreak develops.

7. If an employee contracts COVID-19, will this be covered by workers’ compensation?

Probably not, but it’s a possibility if an employer unreasonably failed to minimise the risk of an employee’s exposure to the virus or knowingly placed the employee at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

As a general rule, the workers’ compensation insurer would need to be satisfied that the virus was contracted in the course of the employee’s employment and that the employment ‘significantly contributed’ to the employee contracting the virus. In other words, the workplace must be more than just the location where symptoms first presented.

It can be difficult to accurately determine the exact time and place of contracting a virus. This means it may be difficult to determine that the employment significantly contributed to the virus.

However, where an employee’s employment put them at greater risk of contracting the virus, the significant contribution test may be easier to meet - for example, if the employer required the employee to interact with people who had contracted the virus. For this reason, health care workers would likely have a stronger basis to claim their contraction of the virus was work-related.

Each claim would need to be considered on its individual merits, having regard to the individual circumstances and evidence in relation to the claim.

8. What can or should we do to minimise the risk of breaching our duty of care to employees?

The following are suggestions only. Each employer will need to determine what is best for each particular workplace.

  • Establish a COVID-19 taskforce.
  • Have a COVID-19 risk management protocol in place, and update this as and when required.
  • Keep abreast of, and comply with, the guidelines and recommendation of the Department of Health and local health departments.
  • Monitor signs of illness and, if shown, encourage employees to seek medical attention.
  • Provide additional personal hygiene products and personal protective equipment at work and remind staff about the importance of using them.
  • Implement social distancing protocols where this is reasonably practicable.
  • Encourage or direct employees to work from home where this is reasonably practical (or to, at least reduce their hours in the workplace). Only retain essential personnel in the workplace.

9. How do I manage my employees’ absences and leave entitlements in a time of crisis?

If you haven’t already done so, prepare a policy for managing coronavirus-related staff absences. Your policy should cover the scenarios you may face, such as:

  • an employee infected with COVID-19
  • an employee caring for someone infected with COVID-19
  • an employee required to care for another who is not infected (for example, children)
  • an employee required to self-isolate because they have travelled to a country with cases or has been in contact with someone who has or may have been infected with COVID-19

We have prepared a fact sheet that considers an employee's leave entitlements in these scenarios.

PDF icon Staffing Arrangements in a Health Crisis (Cth)

This fact sheet is based on an article prepared by Maddocks and published on their website.

10. Must employees use their annual leave if they can’t work from home?

Under the law, leave is framed as an entitlement that employees receive, and employers don’t usually have much power to direct how employees take leave.

Normally, an employee asks for leave under the process set out in their contract of employment, the company policy, or the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement and the employer can only refuse the employee's request if it’s reasonable to do so.

In certain circumstances employers can compel employees to use annual leave. Subject to meeting the requirements in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act) and any applicable enterprise agreement, an employee can be directed to take annual leave:

  • during a period when the employer is temporarily shutting down or closing its operations or workplace. Employers usually rely on this during the Christmas and New Year period, or
  • when an employee has an excessive amount of accrued annual leave (generally, more than 8 weeks)

If an employer shuts down the whole or a part of its operations due to COVID-19, the employer may be able to direct employees to take annual leave. Employers may have this right under an enterprise agreement, but the enterprise agreement may place restrictions on this right.

For employees not covered by an enterprise agreement or award, the employer may direct the employee to take annual leave only if the direction is reasonable. What is reasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances relevant to each employee, including the amount of annual leave they have and the notice they are given of the direction. It’s unlikely that simply relying on the COVID-19 threat will, at this stage, make the direction reasonable.

11. Can employees be made to take personal leave?

If an employee is unwell, their employer should tell them not to attend work, and if necessary, see a doctor. The employee will be entitled to paid personal leave. If the employee doesn’t accrue personal leave (for example, if they are a casual) or doesn’t have enough personal leave to use, the employer should consider a special leave arrangement or discuss other leave arrangements, including unpaid leave.

In most circumstances, an employer can’t direct an employee to use personal leave if they aren’t sick. Personal leave is available to the employee when they are not fit for work due to a personal illness or injury (and carer’s leave is for when they need to care for or support someone who is ill or injured or who requires care or support due to an unexpected emergency).

If the employer has told the employee not to come to work as a precautionary measure, where the employee has not been diagnosed with any illness and is not showing symptoms, they can’t be forced to use their personal leave.

But, if an employer reasonably suspects an employee is unwell, they can direct the employee to have a medical examination and provide medical clearance before they return to work. This is part of an employer’s work health and safety responsibilities. But risks can arise if the employer’s direction is not reasonable (for example, if there is no sound basis for the suspicion).

12.What if an employee is a carer for someone who is unwell?

If an employee is a carer for someone who is unwell, they should take carer’s leave. Carer's leave comes out of the employee's personal leave balance. If the employee does not accrue personal leave (for example, if they are a casual) or doesn’t have enough personal leave, the employer should consider a special leave arrangement or discuss other leave arrangements, including unpaid leave.

All employees, including casual employees, are entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave on each occasion they need to care for an unwell member of their family or household.

13. Can we force employees to use long service leave if we have to shut down?

Generally, no. You can advise employees that they may access their long service leave entitlements if they wish to, however, the conditions on which employees can take this leave is subject to the relevant state or territory long service leave legislation. For example, the employee may be required to take a minimum period of long service leave or give a minimum period of notice to the employer.

14. Can I stand down employees if there is no useful work for them to do?

A stand down isn't the same as a shutdown. Stand downs should only be used by an employer as a last resort because the bar for lawfully standing down employees without pay is very high. Essentially, a stand down will only become an option when the employee cannot be usefully employed.

Where flexible arrangements aren’t an option, the Fair Work Act allows an employer to stand down employees without pay during a period in which they cannot be usefully employed because of:

  • industrial action
  • a breakdown of machinery or equipment if the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible for the breakdown, or
  • a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible.

Directing an employee who isn’t unwell not to attend work because of concerns about COVID-19 doesn’t meet stand down criteria (it’s not for a cause for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible).

However, there may be some circumstances where the stoppage of work by an employee due to COVID-19 is for a reason for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible. For example, if employees can’t perform their duties due to a quarantine ban on them entering a client or customer’s workplace.

The income-depriving consequences of a stand down is severe for employees and can expose the employer to liability for breach of contract and breach of the Fair Work Act. For this reason, stand downs should only take place in accordance with specific legal advice.

Finally, even if the legal criteria for a stand down without pay are met, the employer should still ask: ‘should I do this and, if so, for how long?’

15. What if I have to cancel casual employee shifts because of a COVID-19 outbreak?

In most cases, employers can cancel a casual employee’s shift, or even end their employment, for any reason with very little notice. This is because, unlike for permanent employees, employers are not under a legal obligation to make sure casual employees receive regular shifts.

However, there are compelling reasons why employers shouldn’t rush to cancel casual employees’ shifts, or not pay them, including:

  • Employees who have worked for one employer on a casual basis for over 1 year may be regarded as a long term casual employee. Long term casual employees who have a reasonable expectation to continue their employment with you are entitled to ask for flexible work arrangements and there may be good reason to consider this option (see below).
  • It’s unlawful to cancel a casual employee’s shifts for a discriminatory reason. A valid reason to cancel a casual employee’s shift is to ensure the health and safety of staff or service users. Cancelling a casual employee’s shift because you suspect, without any proper evidence, that the employee is more likely to spread COVID-19 because of their cultural background is not a valid reason.
  • Some organisations are paying casual employees even if their shifts are cancelled. This is because, if a casual employee is not guaranteed any income if they don’t work, they may be less likely to be honest with their employer about feeling unwell. Recognising this, some organisations are making discretionary leave payments to casuals to encourage them to stay home if they aren’t feeling well, without compromising their pay. This may also be done to encourage the casual employee to want to continue working for the employer.
  • As disruptive as COVID-19 is, organisations should do their best to adapt and persevere through these difficult months. As part of this, many organisations are encouraging employees, including casuals, to work from home. Casual employees may be able to perform their same responsibilities, or even different and more pressing tasks, from home. Adapting in this way may be beneficial for both the employee and the organisation.

16. Our service relies on volunteers – can we ask them to continue to volunteer with us?

State and territory governments are releasing guidelines and orders that restrict gatherings and movement. Some states and territories have explicitly addressed volunteering.

The guidelines and orders in place on 6 April 2020 are summarised in the table below.

Remember –  volunteers don’t have a  legal obligation to attend the workplace, or to continue to volunteer for your organisation. Check in with your volunteers regularly and ask if they feel comfortable continuing to volunteer. More information about the nature of the volunteering relationship can be found in Part 2 of our National Volunteer Guide  

Organisations who engage court ordered volunteers, or mutual obligation volunteers should speak to their government contact about the best steps to take.

17. Is it safe to have volunteers ‘volunteering’ right now?

Measures you can take to reduce the impact of the spread of COVID-19 are changing rapidly. To properly assess the risk to your organisation, your volunteers and the people your volunteers are interacting with, it’s important to closely monitor and comply with the latest information and guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation, the Australian Department of Health, and your state health department information.

The risk to your volunteers will also vary depending on your organisation and the industry in which your organisation operates. As the situation continues to evolve rapidly, we recommend organisations conduct risk assessments as frequently as possible.

When thinking about volunteer safety while COVID-19 is prevalent,  community organisations must consider  the 'two sides to safety’ – that is, both the safety of the volunteer, as well as the safety of the people that the volunteer is interacting with, such as clients, employees, other volunteers and members of the public.

More information about volunteer safety can be found in Part 3 of our National Volunteer Guide

Managing the safety of the volunteer

Community organisations’ responsibilities to their volunteers are set out in common and statutory law. Organisations have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their volunteers to the extent reasonably possible and they owe a duty of care to their volunteers. The outbreak of COVID-19 can be regarded as a foreseeable risk from which community groups are required to take reasonable steps to protect volunteers.

Managing the safety of the people your volunteer is interacting with

Community organisations have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of people interacting with their volunteers. In each Australian jurisdiction, legislation sets out special protection for volunteers from personal liability for anything done, or not done, in good faith when performing community work for a community organisation. Accordingly, where a volunteer exposes another person, such as a client or service-user, to infection or harm, your organisation may be responsible.

18. What reasonable precautions can our organisation take to manage our volunteers’ safety?

The reasonable precautions you can take depend on a number of factors (some dynamic) including:

  • the nature of the volunteers’ responsibilities
  • the size and resources of the organisation
  • the nature of the workplace, particular vulnerabilities of your volunteers
  • particular vulnerabilities of your service-users
  • the current information about COVID-19, and
  • the guidelines and directions issued by government

Your community organisation may consider taking the following reasonable precautions:

  • Develop a risk management plan - a risk management plan provides evidence of your consideration of safety laws, foreseeable risks and necessary reasonable action to ensure the safety of your volunteers and service-users.
  • Develop a pandemic or infectious diseases plan that is consistent with World Health Organisation and Health Department information, or appoint a ‘COVID-19 risk manager’ who is responsible for keeping up to date with the changes (see below for more information about a policy and appointing a risk manager)
  • Consider what information you need to provide volunteers - What and how will you communicate with volunteers about their obligation to self-isolate and report to you a possible or likely risk of infection? What will you tell them if someone in their workplace has contracted, or is suspected of contracting the virus? Be mindful of privacy considerations.
  • Review any existing control measures in place and test whether they remain effective. Consider having multiple controls in place, such as increased cleaning services, increased personal protective equipment (PPE) training for volunteers, suspension or cancellation of certain activities or reducing the number of workers, volunteers and service-users in the same location. Ask: ‘is it essential for all of these people to be present?
  • Consider flexible volunteer arrangements - In certain circumstances volunteers may be able to perform their responsibilities from a flexible or remote location. Subject to health, safety and risk considerations, this may be a reasonable precaution. See ‘Should we let volunteers work from home’ below for more information.
  • Where necessary, cancel volunteers’ shifts - Depending on how the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, it may be necessary to stop all volunteer work at your organisation. If such a precaution is necessary, your communication should be clear and include all necessary information about further support your volunteers can receive. Service-users and other organisations may also need to be made aware of this precaution.
  • Encourage your volunteers (and all staff!) to monitor their health and self-report if they believe they are presenting with symptoms, have been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or are a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Ask volunteers to get a medical clearance before returning to work - this should be asked of those volunteers who are in an ‘at risk’ category or who chose to self-isolate (for example, if they travelled overseas or were in close or regular contact with a person returning from overseas or who was diagnosed with COVID-19).

19. Could we be held liable if we ask our volunteers to keep volunteering?

An organisation could be held liable in certain circumstances. Organisations have safety obligations under the common law (judge made law) of negligence, under the negligence provisions in state and territory legislation and in many circumstances under work health and safety (otherwise known as occupational health and safety, or occupational safety and health) laws.

To work out how these ‘safety’ laws apply to your organisations, read Part 3 of our National Volunteer Guide  

Under these laws all organisations are required to take action to manage the risk of COVID-19 to workers (including volunteers) and others in the work environment. The outbreak of COVID-19 can be regarded as a foreseeable risk from which community groups are required to take reasonable steps to protect volunteers, and the people that volunteers are interacting with.

Organisations must comply with national and state public health directions in relation to COVID-19. If your organisation fails to comply with a direction issued by your state government or the federal government in relation to, for example, refusing to allow your workers or volunteers to stop work where directed to by the government, your organisation could face legal consequences. Following these steps should mean there is a relatively low risk of your organisation being found to be liable (for example, in negligence) for any injury, loss or damage suffered by a volunteer as a consequence of COVID-19.

Organisations will need to balance the risk to health and safety against the critical services your organisation provides carefully.

If your organisation has volunteer personal accident insurance, check with your broker about what is and what is not covered, including asking volunteers to work remotely.

20. Should we let volunteers work from home?

It depends. Allowing volunteers to work from home may not be sensible in all situations. If your volunteers require high levels of supervision (for example, engaging with difficult or challenging clients), your organisation may need to consider whether it is appropriate to ask your volunteers to work remotely. Remember, you have a duty of care to ensure the safety (physical and psychological) of your volunteers and clients, and this can be difficult to monitor if your volunteers are working remotely.

If it’s safe to have your volunteers volunteer remotely, make sure they have the necessary equipment, training, and a safe environment in which to work.

Consider what measures your organisation can put in place to support volunteers. This could include, for example, conducting meetings via video-conferencing and sending work to be reviewed by email.

If any of your volunteers have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, or have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case, your organisation should encourage them to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days for the health and safety of your other volunteers, staff, patients and clients.

21. If our volunteers are working from home, do we need to conduct a safety inspection?

Ordinarily, it would be ideal to have an appropriate person conduct a risk assessment onsite at the volunteer's proposed premises of remote working. However, this can be difficult in the current environment.

Instead, we recommend providing a checklist or questionnaire for volunteers to complete themselves. This checklist or questionnaire could address elements such as the placement and height of chairs relative to desks, the angle of monitor screens or laptops, and the surrounding environment generally.

If a volunteer requests that your organisation conduct a physical inspection of the premises where they propose to work, consider whether this request is practicable for your organisation. When considering the request, make sure that conducting a physical inspection won’t expose  any of your other workers to COVID-19 (for example, if the workers conduct an at  premises where there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19).

22. How do we prepare for a volunteer workforce shortage?

It’s important to consider and identify which functions of your organisation are critical, and which require volunteer assistance to operate smoothly. You can explore options like:

  • changing roster arrangements to ensure adequate coverage of your organisation’s essential functions, or
  • letting staff and volunteers know that you may require their adaptability and flexibility in the upcoming months while your organisation manages the COVID-19 pandemic

23.We are getting lots of interest from people who want to volunteer with us during the COVID-19 outbreak. How do we safely manage this?

If your organisation wants to recruit new volunteers, it should be able to do this if risks are managed carefully.  Regardless of the current situation, organisations still have legal obligations to recruit and induct volunteers.

For more information, read our Part 5 of our National Volunteer Guide  

Your organisation could consider reviewing existing recruitment processes to minimise face-to-face contact. For example, your organisation could request applications by email only, and conduct interviews via telephone calls or video-conferencing. Consider moving any onboarding and training processes online. Also consider, for any roles likely to require physical proximity, whether medical clearance should be required as a condition to accepting any applicant.

24. Should we have a policy that addresses volunteering in a COVID-19 environment?  

If possible, organisations should consider:

  • implementing a Pandemic or Infectious Diseases Plan that is consistent with World Health Organisation and Health Department information, or
  • adapting an existing risk management plan that takes into account COVID-19 (or similar situations)

It’s important that senior members of your organisation are aware of this plan and their associated responsibilities.

Given the rapid evolution of the COVID-19 situation and your circumstances, a specific COVID-19 policy may not be prudent nor effective. However, there are other options your organisation could consider. For example, if it is practical for your organisation, you may wish to appoint a COVID-19 risk manager to be responsible for:

  • monitoring changes and informing senior staff members, and
  • being a point of contact for volunteers and staff who are concerned, have any questions or wish to report that they have been diagnosed with, or exposed to, COVID-19

This person could also be responsible for informing volunteers (and staff more generally) of your organisation's response, the measures your organisation has implemented, and how your organisation is managing risk, reputation, workplace culture, mental health and morale impacts in the face of unique, rapidly changing circumstances.

Read our resources on employees and volunteers for more information about your obligations. Please contact us if these don't answer your specific query.
Last Updated: 25 March 2020

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