LUU should update the Trustee Code of Conduct

Passed: November 2020 (23rd)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

I want the Union to update the Trustee Code of Conduct, which is contained in Bye-Law 19 [See Below]. The Trustee Code of Conduct is a key document, allowing the charitable leaders of LUU to be properly held to account for their actions while they are in post. The Code of Conduct applies to all trustees, whether they are a student, an Executive Officer, or an external volunteer.

The process within the current Bye-Law has a number of gaps, including a lack of clarity on the informal stage of approaching a trustee about their conduct, as well as a confusing structure which makes the process difficult to follow and implement. I propose updating the Trustee Code of Conduct to simplify the language and process, while making sure that it is robust and covers the range of possible incidents which would require the Code to be used.

Expires: November 2023 (23rd)

Submitted By: Student Exec

Officer: Union Affairs

Area of Work: Democracy

Ideas which change LUU governance

Sometimes we want to make a change to LUU governance. LUU is a charity, which means as an organisation we are required to comply with specific rules, laid out in our ‘governing documents’. One of these is our ‘Bye-Laws’, the most detailed set of rules we have at LUU. The Bye-Laws cover a wide range of areas and help guide decision-making at our highest levels.

When we want to make a change to these governing documents, there are a number of steps we have to take. The change has to be approved by experts on our Board of Trustees, and it has to be checked for legal accuracy by the University Legal Advisor. The most important step is approval by our members, which we do by taking the changes as an idea to the Better Forums. We are an organisation completely led by our members and we don’t make any significant changes without running them past you. You can see the full Bye-Law changes below.

Bye-Law (19): Trustee Code of Conduct

1. This Bye-Law outlines how LUU will deal with matters concerning the conduct of its Trustees and, if necessary, the process that the Board of Trustees will undertake in order to bring a resolution to remove a Trustee as set out in Article 37. This provision allows for disciplinary action against a Trustee. For clarification, Article 36 confirms the right of Members to remove a Trustee, which is achieved by a petition to hold a referendum. This is referred to in Bye-Laws 3 and 4.

2. The Board of Trustees have powers to remove a Trustee to address a situation where problems of conduct are raised. This procedure is necessary to ensure fairness and consistency in the treatment of the Trustees. A copy of this Bye-Law will be given to all LUU Trustees as part of their induction.

3. The Trustee Board will annually appoint an External Trustee, known as the Supervising Trustee, to oversee the procedure laid out in this Bye-Law. The Supervising Trustee will report to the Appointment & Governance Committee on any use of the code.

Scope

4. Trusteeship is a publicly visible office, and Trustees represent LUU. This means any action taken by a Trustee, at any time while they are in office, may be associated with LUU. The Code of Conduct sets out how LUU and the Board will address actions taken by Trustees which are considered detrimental to LUU or the Board.

5. Where an incident occurs relating to an Officer Trustee in the course of their employment at LUU, this will first be considered within the scope of the Terms and Conditions of their employee role. An outcome of the process within the Terms and Conditions may be disciplinary action as a result of the formal stage of the Trustee Code of Conduct.

6. The Code of Conduct includes an informal stage and a formal stage.

Meaning

7. Under this Bye-Law, detrimental actions are considered to be any action which has or could have a negative impact on LUU as an organisation, or on the Board. This includes (but is not limited to)

(i) Gross misconduct, which is defined by LUU as;

  • Theft of LUU property or the property of LUU employees, visitors or students

  • Fraud

  • Malicious damage to LUU property

  • Fighting or physical assault of any kind

  • Serious or persistent sexual or racial harassment

  • Bringing LUU into serious disrepute

  • Serious infringement of health and safety regulations

(ii) Other misconduct including (but not limited to);

  • damaging any property, whether deliberately or negligently

  • contravention of legal standards of behaviour required as a Trustee of a charity

  • misuse of social media resulting in damage to LUU reputation

  • misuse of the Trustee position (for example to gain entry to restricted areas, or to influence areas of work or members of staff)

Procedure

8. Complaints and grievances should be made to the Supervising Trustee by way of the Chief Executive of LUU, or their nominee. If the Chief Executive of LUU is made aware of any action covered under clause 7 of this Bye-Law then the Chief Executive is obliged to report this to the Supervising Trustee. If the complaint relates to the conduct of the Supervising Trustee, this should be made to the Chair of the Board.

9. Cases of other misconduct or perceived poor performance will be addressed informally by the Supervising Trustee, who may recommend coaching, counselling or other informal support. The case may be escalated if an informal conversation immediately and demonstrably requires a more formal process to occur.

10. In cases of gross misconduct, or where other misconduct continues to occur despite informal intervention by the Supervising Trustee, a disciplinary investigation will be undertaken.

11. It is recognised that being the subject of a complaint can be a difficult time for an individual, and LUU will undertake any investigation with appropriate discretion, care and consideration. LUU will endeavour to ensure all steps in the process remain fair and in line with the appropriate LUU policy and procedures.

12. No trustee or LUU representative shall comment publicly on any incident that is being dealt with under this procedure, with a view to avoiding comments which are likely to prejudice a fair outcome for all parties, unless the comment is first formally approved by the Chief Executive. Failure to observe this requirement will result in disciplinary action being taken under this Bye-Law or other appropriate procedures.

13. If necessary the Supervising Trustee may require a period of exclusion from any or all of LUU premises or events, or compliance with such other restrictions as the Supervising Trustee may require in order to conduct a full and proper investigation. Such an exclusion should only be imposed after careful consideration and should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is not unnecessarily protracted. Excluding a Trustee from participation in LUU activities is not in itself a form of disciplinary action whilst the investigation is progressing.

Disciplinary Investigation

14. The Supervising Trustee will determine whether the issue(s) being raised fall(s) under the scope 19.4 and meaning 19.6 of this Bye-Law. In making the judgement the Supervising Trustee will be careful to ensure that matters of Trustee misconduct are handled through this procedure, but that matters relating to political performance, employment, or other voluntary involvement with LUU, are referred to the appropriate accountability procedures.

15. If an allegation is contained within a complaint pursuant to this Bye-Law which could, if upheld, constitute a potentially criminal act, then careful consideration will be given to the early involvement of the Police. The decision on whether to involve the Police will be made by the Chief Executive in conjunction with the Supervising Trustee and if a report is made, the Chief Executive and Supervising Trustee will then liaise with the Police as to the procedure to be adopted in order not to prejudice any criminal investigation or process.

Stage 1 - Investigation

16. If a complaint is made under this Bye-Law which the Supervising Trustee considers merits a disciplinary investigation, having regard to the terms set out above, the Supervising Trustee will appoint an independent third party to investigate the matter. The investigator will be independent from both LUU and the University, and will be selected on the basis of professional background via a recommendation from the Chief Executive.

17. The investigation is to establish the facts and where appropriate obtain statements from any available witnesses. The process for the investigation will be:

(i) Formal notification to the complainant and respondent, detailing the complaint being investigated, details of the procedure being followed, timeframe of the investigation, and name and contact details of the investigator.

(ii) Collection of written statement and any related documents from the respondent, within 10 working days of the formal notification of investigation. If the respondent does not engage with the process, the investigation may continue and the investigator can draw reasonable conclusions from a failure to engage.

(iii) Delivery of report, which should include recommended outcomes. The report should be delivered within 15 working days of the formal notification, where this is practicable. If adjustments are necessary to allow for a full investigation then this can be approved by the Supervising Trustee and all parties will be informed of revisions to the timeframe of the investigation.

18. The investigator will make a report to the Supervising Trustee. The Supervising Trustee will then decide how to proceed, which may include;

(i) dropping the matter;

(ii) arranging for informal coaching, advice or counselling; or

(iii) review of the matter by disciplinary panel

Stage 2 - Panel Review

19. Where a panel review is required, the Supervising Trustee will have discretion over panel composition.

20. The standard panel composition will be three unbiased Trustees.

21. The panel will hold a disciplinary hearing at which the respondent will have an opportunity to state their case and answer the allegations that have been made. The appointed investigator will present the complainants case and the charges that have been put to the respondent [together with their findings] at the disciplinary hearing.

22. Disciplinary hearings will be arranged as far as possible at a mutually convenient time and place, and the respondent will have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or lay representative of their choice. Disciplinary hearings and associated materials will be considered to be confidential.

Stage 3 - Outcome

23. Following the conclusion of the hearing the panel will either:

(i) recommend that no further action is necessary and that the matter is concluded

(ii) impose or require disciplinary action, which may include a recommendation to the Board of Trustees that a resolution be tabled to remove the Trustee as set out in Article 37

24. The Respondent will be informed of the outcome in writing. Where disciplinary action is imposed or required, the written outcome will include:

(i) the detail of the misconduct that has resulted in the disciplinary action

(ii) any recommendations/action required to prevent future disciplinary action

(iii) the consequence of failure to follow any disciplinary requirements imposed by the panel or to carry out any actions mandated by the panel

(iv) details of the appeal mechanism

(v) the length of time of any formal written warning recommended by the panel shall remain on the records pertaining to the Trustee before it is disregarded

Stage 4 - Appeal

25. The Trustee must notify the panel of their intention to appeal against disciplinary action within 10 working days of receipt of the confirmation letter. The appeal should be made in writing, stating the grounds upon which the appeal is to be made, and addressed to the Supervising Trustee via the office of the Chief Executive of LUU.

26. An appeal hearing will be convened within 15 working days of receipt of the written appeal where practicable. The standard panel composition will be a current student who does not hold office at LUU, a nominee of the University of Leeds, a Chief Executive/General Manager from another students’ union, and an Officer of another students’ union.

27. The Supervising Trustee will have discretion over panel composition, by agreement with the Appellant so far as possible. In the absence of such agreement the Supervising Trustee will have ultimate discretion.

28. The Appellant will have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a lay representative of their choice. The Appellant will be notified of the outcome of the appeal in writing within seven working days of the hearing.

29. An appeal is designed to remedy any defects in the disciplinary process rather than repeat the investigation of the misconduct. Therefore the only grounds that will be considered are:

(i) unfairness of judgement

(ii) the severity of the penalty having regard to extenuating circumstances

(iii) new evidence coming to light that was not available at the time of the original hearing/investigation

(iv) material procedural irregularities

(v) bias of panel members

(vi) unfairness of the interview

30. Possible outcomes of an appeal include:

(i) the appeal is upheld and the disciplinary sanction reduced or removed; or

(ii) the appeal is upheld and there is a request for a re-investigation or rehearing; or

(iii) the appeal is denied and the original decision is upheld

Updates

November 2020: New Policy - everything though is set for this update and it has been approved by the board already. The Bye-Laws will be updated on the LUU website in the coming weeks.