Where restrictions permit, this page outlines how co-operatives can hold a hybrid annual general meeting (AGM).
Things to consider
Whist restrictions on public gatherings are still in place, our advice is that co-ops should think carefully before holding an in-person or hybrid AGM as the safety of members and employees is important first and foremost. However, as the restrictions on public gatherings ease, many co-ops may consider how they can legally hold meetings to accommodate a combination of physical attendance with an online participation option – a hybrid AGM. Whilst our guidance on holding an online AGM is still relevant, here we offer some guidance on holding a hybrid AGM.
Check the co-operative’s governing document
Check if your co-op’s governing document does not:
- Contain provisions that require members to be physically present at the same location for AGMs
- Prohibit electronic participation
If neither conditions apply, then holding a hybrid AGM is an option.
It is important to check your governing document and, if necessary, amend it before planning to hold a hybrid AGM.
Ensuring that the physical place of the meeting is safe
- Prevent attendance by guests (other than carers accompanying a member);
- Require social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, where appropriate
- Consider introducing Covid health checks before admittance to the venue
- Organise the space so that people are not encouraged to gather
- Consider having technical and security help on hand if necessary
If at the time of your AGM, restrictions on gathering remain strict, consider dedicating the physical part of the meeting to accommodate the quorum and any officers required in order for the meeting to proceed.
Restrictions permitting, co-ops may consider allowing those with no or limited access to online participation methods, to attend the physical part of the meeting. Other members can be encouraged to attend virtually. Where a large proportion of members are asked to attend online, opportunities should be provided prior to the meeting for engagement and challenge.
Where possible, co-ops should do their best to enable members attending virtually to ask questions and receive a response at the meeting. If this is not possible, members should be encouraged to raise any questions prior to the meeting so that they can be responded to in advance or during the meeting.
Members at a hybrid meeting, whether attending in person or online, must be able to participate in the meeting. This requires a system where members are able to vote in real time, hear and be heard at the meeting. Creating a procedural document on how this will work for those involved in running the meeting is a useful way of planning for it.
Treating members fairly across both the physical and online elements of the meeting is key, some things to consider are:
- Ensuring that the chair starts the meeting when people are seated and that any technical problems which would prevent those online from accessing the meeting are resolved.
- Clear instructions on how to vote should be circulated to members in advance of the meeting along with any FAQs on how to access the meeting. Sending a reminder of these details a few days before the date of the meeting is also helpful.
- Having a place on the co-op’s website which provides FAQs about the AGM and sharing a dedicated contact line or email so that members can contact to raise any questions about the meeting.
- If the governing document permits the appointment of proxies, consider how these will be appointed. It is permissible for the chair to be appointed as proxy and may be a sensible approach to ensure that proxy votes are counted.
- Consider how questions from members will be managed to ensure that those from either a online or physical participant are not prioritised. Efforts should be made to respond to questions live with any unanswered questions responded to after the meeting.