On Board - A guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland (April 2015)

This Guide provides much of the basic information that a Board Member will need to understand their role as a member of the Board of a public body in Scotland.

Role and Responsibilities of the Chair

The Chair has additional responsibilities over and above those of Board members, particularly in relation to leadership and the conduct of Board business. The Chair is accountable to the Scottish Ministers and, in common with any individual with responsibility for devolved functions, may also be held to account by the Scottish Parliament. Communications between the public body Board and the Scottish Ministers should normally be through the Chair. They are responsible for ensuring that the public body's policies and actions support the Scottish Ministers' wider strategic policies and that its affairs are conducted with probity. The Chair is appraised by the relevant sponsor Director or Deputy Director. Mutual investment in a constructive relationship between the Chair and the Scottish Government sponsor Directorate is important to supporting the effective performance and delivery of the public body.


The Chair

  • Leads representation and links with Ministers and Scottish Parliament;
  • Leads the Board, ensures that the Board has the ability to carry out functions effectively and chairs Board meetings;
  • Leads the Board's approach to strategic planning;
  • Leads the Board's approach to the establishment of committees and ensures the Board considers substantive reports from any committees established;
  • Ensures that the work of the Board and any committees is subject to regular self-assessment and that the Board is operating strategically and effectively;
  • Ensures the Board has a balance of skills appropriate to directing the public body's business, in accordance with recognised good practice in corporate governance;
  • Ensures the Scottish Ministers are advised of the body's needs when Board vacancies arise;
  • Ensures the Board members are fully briefed on terms of appointment, duties, rights and responsibilities;
  • Together with the other Board members, receives appropriate induction training, including on financial management and reporting requirements and, as appropriate, on any differences that may exist between private and public sector practice;
  • Ensures there is a Code of Conduct for Board members in place, approved by the Scottish Ministers;
  • Assesses the performance of individual Board members on a continuous basis and undertakes a formal appraisal at least annually;
  • In consultation with the Board as a whole, as appropriate, is responsible for undertaking an annual appraisal of the performance of the Chief Executive.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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