Advice for Secretaries

Secretary Terms Of Employment

The secretary is one of the key officers of any club. For most the secretary is the executive officer who runs the day to day affairs of the club between committee meetings. The role is not an easy one, most members do not appreciate the skills required. The position not only requires the qualities of integrity and impartiality capable of commanding the respect of members but the incumbent requires a wide range of technical knowledge. The secretary needs to have a working understanding of the club rulebook, licencing law, employment law, heath & safety regulations, record-keeping, H M Revenue & Custom’s practices with regards to payroll taxes and VAT, as well as an understanding of a host of other laws and regulations.

The choice and tenure of the secretary is governed by the club rules, rulebooks vary from the election of a secretary by the members to the appointment of some other outside person. Elected secretaries are usually paid a honoraria while an appointed Secretary is usually paid a salary, although the exact terms of appointment will vary from club to club.

If a club chooses to elect a secretary, then the election usually takes place the same way as other officers. The secretary remains a member of the club, who will be able to propose or second motions and to speak and vote at committee and members meetings.

There is no right or wrong approach in deciding if a club should rely on an elected or employed secretary, the correct decision will depend on the circumstances of each club. There may be a lack of suitable members with the necessary skills or those willing to do the job on a voluntary basis, larger clubs may consider the demands placed on a secretary are beyond the capacity of a voluntary officer.

The two roles are quite separate and are not interchangeable. Changing an elected secretary who is in receipt of a honoraria, to an employed secretary in receipt of a wage is a significant change. Thus, an employed secretary has his tenure and conditions protected by employment law.

The appointment of an employed secretary is not normally made by members but by the committee as they would appoint any other employee. Applicants may come from within the membership or from outside. However, an employed secretary should not be a member and should not have the right to vote at members or committee meetings. As an employee the secretary is an officer without power, except as delegated by the committee.

It is difficult to estimate the average remuneration paid to secretaries. It will depend on the circumstances of each club, some may be paid a limited honoraria as a thank you for their continued assistance to the club, other are paid at a rate at or close to the living wage, other clubs use one week’s bar takings as a guide. The exact remuneration will depend on the exact role and duties of the secretary and the financial resources available to the club.

To reduce the burden on the secretary and the dependence of the club on one person the committee may delegate many aspects of the work of the secretary to others. The external accountant or auditor can be engaged to manage the payroll and MTD VAT affairs, other clubs appoint an assistant or subscriptions secretary to undertake specific tasks. Hopefully by reviewing the amount of work the secretary is expected to undertake and the level of remuneration, the role can be filled from within and club members will be encouraged to stand for this important role.