Contract employment in the context of a corporate board of directors refers to a situation in which a board member is hired for a fixed term, typically one to three years, as an independent contractor rather than as an employee of the company. This form of employment is commonly used for outside experts or consultants who are appointed to the board to provide specialist skills, knowledge, and experience that complement the existing expertise of the board. A contract board member may receive a fixed fee or a retainer for their services and does not have access to employee benefits or job security provided to company employees. Contract employment provides flexibility to the board in adding members with specific skills for a limited period to meet the needs of the organization.
Serving on a board of directors is a significant responsibility that requires dedication and expertise to ensure that organizations are operating legally, ethically, and effectively. As a result, the selection and terms of board members must be handled with great care. One aspect of those terms that has become increasingly common is contract employment. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of contract employment for board members, including its benefits, drawbacks, and legal considerations.
Contract employment is a type of employment agreement that sets out specific terms and conditions for the duration of the contract. This type of employment can be beneficial for both employers and employees as it provides greater clarity and certainty about the terms of employment. Board members who work on a contract basis typically have the same duties and responsibilities as those who serve on the board in a non-contractual capacity. However, their terms of employment differ, and they are typically compensated differently.
One advantage of contract employment for board members is that it allows for greater flexibility in terms of the length of their service. For example, a board member who is only able to commit to a two-year term may be able to serve on a contract basis, whereas they may not be able to serve in a non-contractual capacity where longer terms are typically expected. Additionally, contract employment can provide a level of protection for both the board member and the organization, as the terms of the agreement are clearly defined and agreed upon in advance.
One of the main benefits of contract employment for board members is that it provides greater clarity and certainty around compensation, benefits, and length of service. This can be especially useful for organizations operating in a fast-paced environment, where there may be frequent changes to the board of directors. Additionally, contract employment allows for greater flexibility in terms of employment structure and benefits. For example, organizations may choose to offer different compensation or benefits packages to contract employees compared to non-contract employees.
There are also disadvantages to contract employment for board members. One of the main drawbacks is that contract employees may be viewed as less invested in the organization since they are not full-time employees. Additionally, contract employment can lead to a lack of continuity on the board of directors, which can be detrimental to the organization's long-term success. It is also important to ensure that contract employees have the appropriate level of expertise to serve on the board of directors.
When negotiating a contract employment agreement for board members, it is essential to ensure that all parties understand the terms and conditions of the agreement. This includes details about compensation, benefits, length of employment, termination procedures, and confidentiality agreements. It is also important to clarify the responsibilities and expected contributions of the board member, as well as the expectations of the board member regarding the organization.
There are several crucial elements that should be included in a board of directors contract employment agreement. These include a detailed description of the board member's responsibilities, compensation and benefits, length of employment, termination procedures, confidentiality agreements, and expectations of the board member. It is also important to include provisions for conflict of interest, resignation, and replacement procedures.
Despite the many benefits of contract employment for board members, there are still some misconceptions about this type of employment. For example, some people may believe that contract employment is only suitable for short-term projects or temporary positions. However, this is not the case, and contract employment can be designed to last for many years. It is essential to recognize that contract employment can be an effective way to attract and retain experienced and motivated board members.
There are several legal considerations to keep in mind when implementing contract employment for board members. These include ensuring compliance with employment laws, tax laws, and regulations for board of directors. Additionally, organizations must ensure that they have appropriate insurance coverage in place, including workers' compensation and liability insurance.
Fair compensation and benefits are critical to attracting and retaining talented board members. When designing compensation packages for contract employees on the board of directors, it is essential to consider both internal and external equity. Internal equity means ensuring that all board members receive comparable compensation and benefits based on experience, qualifications, and contributions. External equity means considering the compensation levels of similar organizations in the same industry.
Assessing the effectiveness of contract employment for board members involves evaluating both measurable and subjective outcomes. Measurable outcomes might include improvements in governance, financial performance, or organizational effectiveness. Subjective outcomes might include feedback from board members regarding the quality of their experience working on the board. It is essential to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of contract employment to ensure that it meets the needs of all stakeholders.
Finally, it is important to consider best practices for managing contracts with board members. Some tips from experts include:- Clearly defining the board member's role and expectations- Regularly communicating with board members about organizational goals and challenges- Ensuring that contracts are updated regularly to reflect changes in the organization- Recognizing and rewarding board members for their contributions and achievements- Providing opportunities for board members to participate in training and development programs
Contract employment can be an effective way to attract and retain talented board members while providing greater clarity and certainty around the terms of employment. However, it is essential to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of this type of employment and ensure that contracts are tailored to meet the needs of the organization and its stakeholders. By following best practices and regularly evaluating the effectiveness of contract employment, organizations can ensure that they have the best possible board of directors to guide them toward success.