Charity leaders issued with governance guidance as lockdown eases

Governance guidance has been released to help charity trustees ensure their organisation is operating safely as Covid-19 lockdown eases and staff return to work.

The guidance has been released by the Chartered Governance Institute and is aimed at charity trustees in England and Wales.

It has been announced as the government steadily eases Covid-19 lockdown measures. This has included the return to some face to face fundraising and most recently encouraging staff working from home to return to their normal workplace.

The guidance also covers governance issues around furloughed staff returning.

“Since May, the government has announced various steps to ease lockdown and this has led to much thought within the charity sector about how to reopen offices and other sites in a controlled, measured and safe way, said Louise Thomson, head of policy, not for profit, at the institute.

“It is unlikely that all activities will return to a pre-lockdown situation for the foreseeable future and trustees and senior management teams need to work together to ensure the return is safe, effective and suitably flexible to respond to further local or national lockdowns”

The guidance covers the basics of charity governance in relation to Covid-19, such as health and safety legislation and charity law.

Identifying liabilities and risks, including insolvency and issues such as corporate manslaughter are also included.

Risks around reopening offices and consulting staff are other features of the guide, which includes a risk assessment template and reopening checklist.

Another section looks at decision-making as lockdown eases, including when meetings are valid.

Thomson added: “As any decision to open up a charity’s physical activities and sites must be made by the board of trustees, collectively, in consultation with the senior management team, this guidance provides an overview of the fundamental issues trustees should be considering, as well as a top-level view of the legal duties placed upon the board.

“Suggested topics and questions that trustees and senior management teams should discuss to fully understand the needs of their charity are also included.”

The guide can be downloaded here.

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