Most not-for-profit organisations recognise that they have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of their members and others who attend those activities. They have a statutory duty do so under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 if they employ one of more people. Where a not-for-profit organisation uses a venue or facilities owned by a third party it must also comply with any requirements of the owner or lessee of those premises
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a dilemma for not-for-profit organisations, as well as, generally, significantly disrupting people’s lives in New Zealand (in common the rest of the world). Most not-for-profit organisations have had their activities (involving not only their members but other people) adversely affected by both the pandemic and the restrictions imposed to seek to restrict the spread of the disease and its adverse effects. Despite Covid-related restrictions, most of those organisations seek to:
- Maintain their regular activities as much as possible, while
- Protecting the health and safety of their members, and, also
- Protecting the health and safety of those who benefit from their activities.
The fact that the Government has sought to have 90+% of the adult population fully vaccinated and receiving a booster, creates an expectation that organisations will seek to ensure that those who participate in or attend their activities will be fully vaccinated or be able to produce evidence of an exemption from vaccination. Some Government advice about events and entertainment is available at
and an Event Sector Voluntary Code has been published by Sport New Zealand – see https://sportnz.org.nz/media/3478/events-and-tournaments-guidance.pdf.
Current relief for not-for-profit organisations
Relief, allowing electronic meetings and temporary rule changes, is now in place until 30 October 2022, as Clause 4 of the 4 April 2022 COVID-19 Response (Requirements For Entities—Modifications and Exemptions) (Extension) Order 2022, provides as follows:
Six-month extensions relating to sections 10A, 13A, 26A, and 30A of Act
The following are extended for a further period that starts on 1 May 2022 and ends on the close of 30 October 2022:
(a) in relation to all entities, the application of each of sections 10A and 13A of the Act:
(b) all powers to grant exemptions under section 26A of the Act:
(c) … .
The Act referred to in Clause 4 is the COVID-19 Response (Requirements For Entities—Modifications and Exemptions) Act 2020 (COVID-19 Response (Requirements For Entities—Modifications and Exemptions) Act 2020 No 14 (as at 03 November 2021), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation), and the sections referred to in Clause 4 relate to the following:
- Section 10A facilitates the calling and holding of meetings by electronic means if an entity’s rules do not provide for that method of dealing with meetings,
- Section 13A sets out the process for modifying certain requirements or restrictions in constitution or rules, and
- Under section 26A a responsible Registrar or Minister in relation to a specified Act (including the Incorporated
- Societies Act 1908, the Charitable trusts Act 1957, and the Companies Act 1993) may exempt classes of persons from compliance with any provision of a specified Act.
Protecting the health and safety of those associated with not-for-profit organisations
Not-for-profit organisations can comply with their duty to keep people safe in the Covid-19 pandemic by:
- Complying with the directives of the Ministry of Health and other authorities,
- Ensuring that the places where their activities occur are safe for their members and for members of the public,
- Being aware of and complying with any conditions imposed by the proprietors of places where the organisation’s activities occur,
- Developing policies relating to the organisation’s participants and visitors signing in at places where its activities occur (including showing vaccine passes),
- Making decisions about whether or not to require participants in and visitors to the organisation’s activities be fully vaccinated or have a valid exemption from vaccination, and deciding how to monitor compliance with those decisions, and
- Providing their members with relevant advice and support.
Those duties mean that every community organisation needs to appreciate that:
- Many of its members will expect the organisation to keep them safe by insisting that members and visitors sign into a venue and also produce proof of vaccination or of a vaccination exemption, and
- It may be asked to assure the owners or operators of venues it uses that it has proof of full vaccination of those coming to a venue (or proof of an exemption), and that means that every community not-for-profit organisation should consider asking those involved in its activities for proof of vaccination or of an exemption.
Creating sensible directions to protect people from Covid-19 infection
The following draft directions may assist community not-for-profit organisations to write their own notices to members and visitors (while vaccine passes are not now required by legislation, many venues and organisations still require that they be produced) :
The [name of community organisation] has legal duties and responsibilities to keep its members, and also those who attend its activities, safe from injuries and infections. The Committee of [name of community organisation] has discussed its duties to the organisation’s members and guests, and also the possible restrictions that may be imposed on the organisation because of the current Covid-19 epidemic by the Government or by those who control the venues used by the organisation. Having regard to those duties and possible restrictions the committee has decided that those who participate in or attend its activities must:
- Be fully vaccinated or have an official exemption from getting vaccinated,
- Produce on request proof of the vaccination or exemption, and
- Sign in when arriving at every activity.