Checklist: Employees as trustees

By governance expert Judith Rich

Judith Rich
Judith Rich

An interesting development in many organisations over the years has been the appointment of employees as trustees.

This can arise from an employee's desire to play a bigger role in the strategy and direction of the charity's work. However, such a move can also result from dissatisfaction with the board's decisions.

There should be no problem in making such an appointment, but it is always advisable to follow the Charity Commission's advice in this regard and for the organisation to obtain its permission.

The advice is clear and covers most potential hazards. It states that the board should consider beforehand whether such involvement could be limited to the employee attending board meetings in a co-opted capacity.

However, if this approach is being proposed, it's likely that the person concerned would be prepared to take this route only if it carried full voting status.

Both sides should carefully consider all elements of such additional involvement, because a conflict of interest could follow.

It might not be easy to deal with this when it happens, unless all facets of the appointment have been laid down transparently, recorded in writing and agreed in advance by everyone involved.

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