COVID-19 and the Nonprofit Workplace

PUBLISHED 3/12/2020

As all sectors, families, workplaces, and schools deal with the growing frequency of COVID-19 (the new Coronavirus disease), Michigan Community Resources will offer continuing guidance as the rapidly evolving situation unfolds. We all need to continue to take steps that follow the general health principle of limiting the interactions of people within larger groups to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided some general guidance for businesses to plan and respond to COVID-19. Please take a moment to review the Interim Recommendations to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 (dated March 11, 2020). Information about this outbreak is changing rapidly. You can stay informed by regularly visiting Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Below are some specific suggestions to consider as you seek to minimize risk to your employees, volunteers, and your nonprofit:

Minimize your employees’ and volunteers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 while they are on the job.

  • Circulate reminders about handwashing guidelines.
  • Enhance cleanings to frequently touched surfaces.
  • Reconsider any travel.
  • Encourage employees and volunteers who have any symptoms to stay home and call their healthcare provider.
  • Subscribe to health updates from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Ensure your sick leave or paid time off policies are clear and up to date.
  • Ask your employees and volunteers to notify the organization if a family member has COVID-19.
  • Plan for how key organization tasks will be completed if a situation should arise in which employees and volunteers cannot physically come to work – you will have to be creative!

Explore your organization’s telecommuting options.

  • Ensure employees with laptops take them home nightly.
  • Even if you do not have a telecommuting policy, if an employee requests to work from home and work from home is possible, you may be legally required to make an exception. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act may require reasonable accommodation of employees who are disabled, have a history of a disability or are “regarded as” having a disability.
  • Consider video meetings and trying to practice social distancing.

Do not share individual confidential healthcare information.

  • If you learn that an employee has COVID-19, tell employees generally of the exposure or potential exposure, and explain any precautions you are taking in the workplace.
  • Do not identify the individual employee(s) with COVID-19.
    As you consider your contingency plan and how best to keep your organization and employees safe, remember that specific laws may impact your COVID-19 contingency plan (including disability discrimination laws, medical leave laws, health and safety laws, privacy laws and wage and hour laws). You can find more helpful information on legal considerations for coronavirus in the workplace from Miller Canfield.

Please note: These resources have been prepared by Michigan Community Resources with assistance from pro bono attorneys throughout Michigan as information only and does not constitute legal advice.  This information is not intended to create and receipt of the information does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

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