Robert Foulke, SLCC’s National Legal Advisor, has written new advice for members on the current legal position of hybrid meetings in England.
Requirement for physical meetings?
There is no statutory concept of ‘hybrid’ in terms of parish and parish council meetings. Meetings are either held in compliance with the law, or they are not.
The current legal position is that all meetings (under the LGA, 1972) have to take place in-person and must be open to the public to attend in a physical sense.
Is the clerk required to attend?
In relation to the clerk, their physical presence at such meetings is not a statutory requirement, however their contract of employment may enable their employer to require them to attend.
The latest government guidance is that office workers who can work from home should do so. Organisations should also consider government guidance when preparing their health and safety risk assessments and put in place suitable mitigations.
It is an implied term of the contract of employment that the employer will take reasonable steps to ensure the employee’s safety.
SLCC are supporting the work of the Local Government Association (LGA), Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) in calling on the government to restore the ability to meet remotely in England.