[UPDATE: November 19, 2020]

The protocals for health and safety continue to evolve based on better information on how COVID-19 spreads  and affects different segments of the population. 

There is also greater knowledge of what is effective or not in trying to contain or curb the spread. And with the likelihood of one or more vaccines becoming widely available and distributed within about six months, the rules for handling reopenings will significantly change from current practice. 


[UPDATE: May 25, 2020]

The standards and procedures for health and safety for the entire population (including workers in facilities that are opening up) are rapidly evolving and include a combination of federal guidelines as well as state and local mandates and rules.

This is a developing story that we will update regularly. The federal CDC just released a long-awaited set of guidelines to “open up” the nation, but they are a watered-down version of the original draft.

California’s rules are also quickly evolving as are those of local jurisdictions including input from their public health departments and other agencies.

“The coming decisions will be difficult,” cautions NPQ‘s Martin Levine. “Redesigning workplaces and service systems to be both safe and effective in the face of the virus requires guidance from public health and medical experts. The past weeks have taught us that despite the fact that their expertise should be a foundation upon which we can build , we cannot expect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), much less the federal government as a whole, to provide the guidance nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike need.”


[April 6, 2020]

The issue of workplace health and safety raises many questions for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a nonprofit organization is exempted from stay-at-home orders, there will be entirely different considerations than for groups that are shifting to remote, online, operations and don’t have any contact with the general public.

The applicable rules and recommendations arise from a confusing patchwork of federal, state, and local sources. They vary, also, according to degrees of “risk” inherent in a particular workplace and there are special rules in place for certain categories like healthcare.

These are complex issues with no easy one-size-fits-all answers or advice.

Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

[H]ow does an employer or supervisor decide who may continue working remotely and who should be at the organization’s physical site?Employers should put employee health and safety first and monitor federal and regional health guidelines. 

— Kathy Gurchiek, shrm. (7/7/20)

Last week, the CDC was finally allowed to issue reopening guidance “to assist directors and administrators in making (re)opening decisions.” Disappointingly, rather than the detailed 63-page set of workplace recommendations experts had been prepared to release, only six PowerPoint slides emerged [with] little specificity. Instead, they minimize the challenge of COVID-19, maximize the pressure to return to normal, and rely on state and local leaders to step into the gap.

— Martin Levine, NPQ (5/19/20)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA’s requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country.

— OSHA Press Release (5/19/20)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created fault lines between workers and their employers over a host of increasingly sensitive issues: Namely, can employees be forced to report to work if they’re afraid of contracting coronavirus? And can they be fired if they refuse. The answer is complicated, labor-law experts say, and depends in large part on how risky the workplace is.

— Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee (3/19/20)



Remote-Work Costs: Must Nonprofit Reimburse?

[June 5, 2020] Among the many adjustments that employers - including nonprofits - have had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic is the abrupt switch to remote work for some or all of their employees. That includes making sure that everyone in the workforce has needed hardware, software, and internet and phone connectivity.  California is among the jurisdictions that initiated early and mandatory stay-at-home orders for a large portion of the population and economy. There [...]

Filing Deadlines Extended for Nonprofit Organizations

[April 24, 2020] By the third week of March 2020, governments at all levels had begun to respond to the many questions and issues raised by the COVID-19 emergency, including - most notably - the curtailment or suspension of operations and activities by individuals and entities on account of new stay-at-home orders  and recommendations.  The necessary federal emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act was made in mid-March. The [...]

UPDATE: The CARES Act and Nonprofits

[March 27, 2020] The third prong of the Congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic - the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 747) - is now before the House of Representatives, having passed the Senate on Wednesday. The House is expected to approve it today with overwhelming support; voting is expected to begin shortly.  It could be signed at the White House and in effect before the end of this weekend. [...]

Some Good News: Funders are Stepping Up

Ten days ago, we posted Funders Must Step Up - Right Now! (March 16, 2020).   That same morning, influential blogger Vu Le had posted Funders, this is the rainy day you have been saving up for. Mr. Le has long been a vocal critic of many foundations’ viewing the five percent payout figure in the tax code as a ceiling instead of what it is: a floor.  During that week, as most of us were [...]

Nonprofit Board Meetings in an Emergency

The devastating pandemic has brought sudden and profound challenges for all of us.  In What Nonprofit Board Members Should Be Doing Right Now to Address the COVID-19 Situation, (March 16, 2020), the experts from BoardSource write:  “As the world responds to the threats of COVID-19, many nonprofits and their boards are wrestling with difficult questions and decisions.”  A rewrite of that sentence may be in order; every nonprofit and its board is flying blind in [...]

The Charitable Sector: COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus Package

America's charities request $60 billion infusion of support to help the most vulnerable March 18, 2020 The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic facing the country is having a profound impact on the economy and has greatly expanded the need for charitable organizations to provide additional services in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, the economic downturn will undoubtedly result in a contraction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable [...]

Coronavirus and Nonprofits: Challenges & Resources

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the news media focused on the minutiae of the primary-election horse race. This week, Americans have been forced to confront the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For the nonprofit sector, the emergency becomes a double-barreled crisis: we are both victims and saviors. This is not an unfamiliar conundrum; there are frequent natural disasters that devastate one area or another. This nation’s charitable organizations - and, in particular, the social [...]

Funders Must Step Up – Right Now!

“Funders,” writes nonprofit blogger Vu Le, “this is the rainy day you have been saving up for.”  Recently, we wrote about Mr. Le’s earlier plea for America’s foundations to step up their payouts beyond the “five percent rule” in the federal tax code. In an article last summer, he characterized it as a moral imperative: The ethical argument for foundations to increase their annual payout rate beyond 5% (August 4, 2019). This morning, it’s a [...]

Small Business Association Disaster Loan Guidance and Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has an existing program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, that extends disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by disasters.  On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the SBA announced that the program will be available to claims arising from COVID-19.  The SBA will work with state officials to offer loans of up to $2 million.  “These loans may be used to pay [...]

Go to Top