Emerging Legal Issues for Your Pregnancy Center & COVID-19
05.26.2020 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.
As pregnancy centers continue to provide essential services throughout Minnesota, it is crucial to develop and engage in appropriate protective measures specific to COVID-19. This will not only protect your clients, volunteers, and employees, but may also reduce your legal risks.
Attend our upcoming May 28 webinar for nonprofits – specifically designed to help you prepare for opening your doors in light of COVID-19!
Adhere to relevant directives and guidance from local, state, and federal authorities related to COVID-19
Some of the current guidelines:
2. Develop and Implement COVID-19 Specific Policies and Procedures. These policies and procedures should address all in-person activities, including in-person programming, and also other COVID-19-related activities such as web-based operations of the pregnancy center.
These policies should address:
- cleaning procedures
- center capacity and COVID-19 specific protocols
- social distancing
- privacy disclaimers for online activity participation
- other policies relevant to your particular pregnancy center
Your organization should also address and create employee-related COVID-19 policies and procedures to follow applicable laws, including OSHA requirements and new leave requirements such as those created by the Families First Coronavirus Act. Once adopted, it is crucial that your pregnancy center consistently follows these policies and procedures. Continue to track their effectiveness and make changes as necessary.
Develop and Impose Participation Guidelines and Restrictions for In-person Activities
Your pregnancy center should evaluate its plans for resuming its in-person activities, up-to-date health recommendations related to COVID-19, and develop related guidelines and restrictions for participation. These guidelines and restrictions will likely change, becoming both more and less restrictive depending on the levels of infection with your community and recommendations from the medical community.
These participation guidelines and restrictions may include prohibitions of those who may be sick, high-risk individuals, and those that cannot or are unwilling to follow required safety policies and procedures. These guidelines and restrictions should also apply to your volunteers.
Waivers and Releases
Your pregnancy center may want to consider requiring a written waiver and release of liability for its in-person activities, including volunteering. Such waivers and releases must clearly identify risks, including potential exposure to COVID-19. Due to the newness of COVID-19, it is unclear if the courts will enforce such waivers and releases. Even so, they are a useful tool to help protect against possible future claims of liability.
Notices and Signage
Your pregnancy center may also want to display various types of notifications and signage throughout its building to educate and inform clients, patients, volunteers, and other visitors of the potential COVID-19-related risks, participation guidelines, and restrictions. Distribute these notices via printed flyers, electronic email communications, newsletter announcements, and social media sites.
These recommendations are subject to change, as this continues to be a changing and evolving area of the law. We have been working with other organizations to address their interest and concerns related to COVID-19 specific actions and we would be happy to discuss them with your pregnancy center.