Lead directors - welfare and safety

The Code for Sports Governance places a requirement on organisations to appoint a lead director with responsibility for welfare and safety and this may be considered good practice regardless of an explicit obligation to do so.

Roles and responsibilities

The Code for Sports Governance places a requirement on organisations funded at Tier 3 level by Sport England and/or UK Sport to appoint a lead director with responsibility for welfare and safety.

While not all organisations may be under an explicit obligation to take this step, it might be appropriate to consider making such an appointment as part of considering how to ensure the Board takes account of the welfare and safety of all those who come into contact with the organisation.

Why appoint a lead director?

Welfare and safety touch on every aspect of an organisation's activities. Ensuring a safe environment for all who come into contact with it is one of the most important obligations an organisation is under.

Welfare and safety encompasses safeguarding, mental health and well-being, anti-doping and integrity as well as other issues. A welfare and safety lead director can provide the Board with focus on the issues and can support it to ensure appropriate oversight of its responsibilities. The lead director can do this by:

  • leading and informing welfare and safety discussion and planning within Board meetings
  • highlighting welfare and safety implications of decisions and factoring their consideration into discussions
  • providing check and challenge to the Board and executive or senior management teams and ensuring that reporting contains sufficient detail of the issues to ensure informed decision making
  • providing a link between the Board and the operational staff with responsibility for welfare and safety
  • advocating for welfare and safety and highlighting its importance with all stakeholders

It must be remembered, however, that board members exercise collective responsibility. The appointment of a lead director does not mean that other board members leave considerations of the matter to that individual. As with all other issues, there are obligations on each and every member of the board to exercise due care and consideration of welfare and safety. Nor does it mean that welfare and safety is the only matter for which the appointed individual bears responsibility. While they may be the lead for this particular issue, it sits alongside their duty to make decisions in the interests of the organisation as a whole, exercising judgement on all matters before the board. When recruiting for a lead director for welfare and safety, the skills, knowledge and expertise on the board which are required for the strategic direction of the organisation need to be considered.


Sport England and UK Sport have issued guidance to help organisations to meet Requirement 4.7 of the Code and appoint a lead director for welfare and safety.

The guidance covers:

  • preparing a role description for the welfare and safety Board lead - including a sample role description
  • identifying appropriate candidates for the role
  • recruiting a new director - including useful resources and links to websites to help with the process

The guidance should be read alongside the commentary in the Code document by all organisations who must comply with the Requirement or those who are following the best practice recommended in the Code.

A Code For Sports Governance Guidance Note, Requirement 4.7 Welfare And Safety