[UPDATE: November 16, 2020]

Due to the disastrous course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is now facing a difficult winter including the rollback of phased reopenings that have not worked to safely reopen society while keeping the infection rate at bay. Not unlike the movie “Groundhog Day,” the nonprofit sector along with the rest of the American economy and workforce will have to retrench. That will mean making plans again in a few months to move forward, albeit this time – hopefully – with effective vaccines. Employers will face a complex set of new situations and new rules. 



[UPDATE: May 26, 2020]

The questions, confusion, and challenges facing nonprofit organizations with workforces continues as the laws and rules change.  For the first two months or so of the pandemic, there was no clear answer when or if we can return to “normal.” 

For the organizations with workers who have been deemed “essential” from the outset of the crisis, it’s been a matter of learning about, and implementing, all of the new guidelines and rules to maximize safety. A complicating factor has been the plethora of vague, ambiguous, and shifting recommendations and requirements from federal, state, and local authorities, and the challenges in reconciling them. 

Now, with all 50 states moving to one degree or another, into stages of “reopenings,” many more organizations will face decisions about restarting operations that were put on hold or terminated entirely. They will encounter the same issues and complexities as the organizations which kept operating, in whole or in part, since March. 



[April 6, 2020]

Among the many critical issues facing nonprofits in this pandemic crisis, few are as immediate as the matter of how to deal with the workforce challenges: retaining and paying staff under dire financial constraints and maintaining the health and safety of everyone connected with the organization.

The new reality of COVID-19 triggers existing regulations and requirements that apply in the case of infectious diseases generally. It has also created new layers of rules and mandates because of the unprecedented scope and severity of this pandemic.

And, of course, the many existing laws governing the employer-employee relationship remain in force and effect.

There are many questions – but few easy answers.

Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

With the prospect of an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, employers are already wondering whether they will be able to require their employees to get the vaccine. Because the pandemic has caused changes in other workplace rules, the answer to this question is not clear.

— Suzanne W. Overholt, Esq., Smith Admunsen (11/13/20)

With uncertain cash flow, you may not be able to restart every program at the level it was. Also, due to health vulnerabilities, some staff members may need to remain in isolation. And as mentioned before, the programs you offer may have to change. New programs and procedures may require retraining staff. Start thinking now about how you will meet the criteria needed to reopen, whether you need a phased restart and what you will need for the programs and people involved.

Howard Levy, Nonprofit Pro Blog (5/18/20)

With each day that COVID-19 remains a growing threat to communities across the country, employers face unprecedented challenges and concerns.

— Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (3/20)

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 Haslar, The Sacramento Bee (3/19/20)


GO TO – essential activities

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 [...]

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