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tip of the week

October 2019

Halloween Polices For Your Organization

October 31/19

 This tip is coming out on Halloween so it seems appropriate to talk about Halloween. 


I recently spent time in Montreal and the Quebec provincial government is embroiled in a controversy about allowing people to wear religious symbols at work. Halloween is not a religious event so those provincial rules do not apply, but some of the same concerns may apply to your workplace.


Allowing people to wear costumes with masks in public places creates some risk. The reason bank robbers wear masks is to avoid identification. If your workplace is open to the public, you may want to consider creating a policy around allowing full facial masks into your workplace. 

Should Your Board Always Agree?

October 24/19

What does it mean if everyone around the table agrees with the decision? Does that mean that the decision is obvious, or does it mean that we don’t have enough diversity on the board? 


Maybe everyone agrees because they are actually all the same people, they drink the same Kool-Aid and they always agree. Or does it mean that there are people on the board who are afraid to voice a dissenting opinion.


The chair of the board should be concerned if most of the decisions made by the board are made unanimously. This could indicate that there is not enough diversity on the board to provide a thorough discussion of all of the ramifications of a decision, or that people are not comfortable voicing their opinions.

Committees – What is their power and their risk?

October 17/19

 Does your group have committees? Can these committees make decisions that do not have to be ratified by the board? 


Committees do a lot of the heavy lifting of governance work. However, these committees generally make recommendations that are approved by the board before they are implemented. In that way, the committee members are not board members and are therefore not subject to the same responsibilities and risks as a board member. 


If a committee can make a decision without board approval, then they are acting as a board. Some committee members serve on a committee rather than a board because they want to avoid the risks of board membership. Therefore, we should be careful to make sure we protect the committees by having a good terms of reference document and ensuring that their activities are all approved by the full board. 

Google Wins GDPR Decision

October 10/19

The European Union’s top court (European Court of Justice) has ruled that Google only needs to remove links for its search results in Europe, not elsewhere. The background to this is that the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requires all websites operating in the EU to respond to a request to erase search listings for an individual if they ask for that erasure to take place. This is referred to as the right to be forgotten or the right to erasure. 


The concern had been that the EU was trying to enforce this regulation beyond their borders. The court ruling removes that doubt. This decision provides clarification to us that if we are not dealing with the EU, then we don’t need to follow their rules.

Paid Board Members Get a T4

October 3/19

In a previous tip I pointed out that if you paid a board member you had to report this income. I have had a number of questions about this and I want to clarify the reporting. 


A board member gets a T4 for the amount of directors’ fees they receive. They do not get a T4 for any reimbursement of mileage or traveling expenses. A reimbursement is not a taxable payment. If your group pays a board member more than $3,500 in a calendar year, then you must deduct Canada Pension Plan (CPP) on the amount over $3,500. 


Some groups send a T4(A) if they are not taking deductions, which will probably work, but the most appropriate form is the T4. So to be clear, send a T4 for director’s fees, not for mileage or expense claims.