How do board members retire?

The organisation’s constitution should set out the mechanisms for the completion of a board member’s term of office. Some model documents assume that board members will retire following a rolling programme – often called retirement by rotation. Typically this means that, every year, the longest serving third of the board members retire. In theory this means that every board member’s position is reviewed every three years. If the constitution does not prevent a board member from standing for reappointment, this provision, designed as part of succession planning, is sometimes not fit for its intended purpose.

It is considered good practice to have defined terms of office for board members, say two terms of three years. This refreshes the board and makes succession planning easier. For some, however, continuity is important and this can always be covered by allowing a board member to stay on after their allotted terms “in exceptional circumstances”.

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