Skip to main content
Co-operatives and elections

Stage 3: Clear role descriptions for board membership

It is important that all potential candidates have a clear sense of what is involved in board membership, to ensure that expectations are realistic.

A template role description for a co-operative board member is included in the Directors’ Toolkit – previously prepared by the Expert Reference Panel. This also covers expectations around conduct (and any adopted code) where members will also need to be clear about what is expected.

As a minimum, any role description should set out:

  • The role of the board, including how the board relate to any staff employed, with clear reference to the legal obligations of board members
  • The time commitment required, including frequency of board meetings, the mix of virtual and in-person meetings, and any expectation around away days or similar.
  • The legal duties that board members have, including their fundamental duty to act in good faith (their “fiduciary” duty) in the best interests of the co-operative
  • If there are specific expectations or qualifications for board members. Credit union board members, for example, have a particular set of obligations around fitness and probity, because credit unions as organisations are regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority.
  • Expectations around declarations and conflicts of interest
  • Expectations on confidentiality, and attending training
  • Term of office, and any review to which this is subject
  • Details of any remuneration
  • Details of board insurance
  • Obligations on ceasing to be a board member

Some community benefit societies are also charitable, and if so the role description should make it clear that the board are also the 'trustees' of the charity, and have certain additional legal responsibilities as a result.

Finally, the Worker Co-op Code notes how important it is that "everyone understands that 'management is a function, not a status'".