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Secondment

A secondment is an opportunity to work in another part of the University or within another role, for a limited period of time.

Secondments can have significant benefits for the University and our employees. They can help individuals develop new skills, support succession planning for the future and enable a performance culture. Internal secondments transfer expertise across the University, build networks and can form part of an employee’s personal development plan.

Our Secondment Policy is designed to encourage and support internal secondments. A secondment can be suitable in many circumstances such as to provide support for a project, provide cover for an employee taking family leave or fulfill fixed term vacancies. In many cases, individuals will return to their original team at the end of the period with increased knowledge and experience and a greater understanding of the University.

For more resources on secondments, check out the links and resources below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of a secondment?

Secondments can support the skills and personal development of individuals.  Secondments also contribute to wider University goals of succession planning, adding to our skills base and evolving our performance culture. 

When might a secondment be appropriate

A secondment can be used in a variety of ways.  A secondment could cover a period of family leave, a career break or extended special leave.  It could also be used to backfill a member of staff who is undertaking a secondment themselves. A secondment could also be used to meet the needs of a specific project or piece of work or where a Fixed Term Contract might normally be used. In each of these cases secondments provide an ideal development opportunity for someone who wishes to take advantage of further developing transferrable skills in a different role.  Where a manager has a need to recruit in any of these circumstances, they are encouraged to think about advertising the opportunity as open to internal secondment.  

What happens to the employee's terms and conditions while they are on secondment?

This will depend on the circumstances.  If the role is at a higher grade than the member of staff’s current role, their salary will be increased to the first spinal point of the higher grade.  When they return to their substantive post at the end of the secondment they will return to their former salary, with the benefit of any normal increases that would have taken place in their absence.  If the grade is the same, there will no change to salary.  If there are any other benefits associated with a higher grade (for example, additional annual leave) the member of staff will also receive these on a pro rata basis. Staff will remain in their current pension scheme for the duration of a secondment. 

What happes if the employee on secondment goes on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave?

Normal policies and procedures relating to any family or special leave will apply.  The seconding manager will need to consider how to cover for the member of staff during the leave period. 

How should the substantive manager keep in touch with an employee on secondment?

Keeping in touch regularly is vital to ensure that, at the end of the secondment, the member of staff can easily return to their substantive post.  Each situation will depend on the circumstances, but a regular meeting is recommended, and should take place ideally monthly, but at the very least every 2-3 months, depending on the length of the secondment.  The substantive manager should also ensure that the seconded member of staff receives any normal regular team updates, or invite the seconded member of staff to any regular team meetings or events that may take place. 

Can part time/job share employees go on secondment?

Yes.  The secondment policy is open to any member of staff who meets the eligibility criteria.

I have seen a role advertised, but it isn't a secondment. Can I request a secondment on this basis?

Yes.  You should state in your application that you would like to be considered for the vacancy on a secondment basis.

What happens if an employee goes on secondment and then wants to stay in that role?

There may be occasions where the secondment turns into a permanent role. In these circumstances the seconding manager is advised to consult Human Resources.  Where there was a competitive recruitment process for the secondment, it may be possible, subject to the agreement of all parties, to make the secondment permanent.  There may however in some circumstances be appropriate to advertise the opportunity to all members of staff, for example if there was not a competitive process.

What should an induction include for a secondee?

Whilst the member of staff will already work for the University, it is still important for the success of the secondment to ensure that there is an effective induction.  What is required will depend on the circumstances, but as a minimum there should be a detailed introduction to the department and new colleagues, and objectives set for the secondment period along with regular meetings between the seconding manager and member of staff. The University Induction Checklist will help provide a starting point for this. 

If the secondment is due to end but there is an opportunity to extend it, what happens then?

The seconding manager should in the first instance discuss the opportunity with the substantive manager to identify whether an extension would have any potential negative impact on the substantive department, and whether cover arrangements can also be extended. Where the seconding and substantive manager agree, the seconding manager should discuss the extension with the member of staff.  If an extension is agreed, ensure that Human Resources are informed. 

Can a secondment be longer 12 months?

Yes. The policy provides a guide of 3-12 months for a typical secondment, but there may be circumstances where a longer secondment is appropriate, for example, if someone is taking a longer career break, or where the family leave is being extended for longer than 12 months.

Is it possible to have an external secondment?

This policy is designed with internal secondments in mind.  There may be occasions where a member of staff, or their manager, identifies a potential external secondment.  There are some legal and contractual implications that may apply, so Human Resources should be consulted on the specific circumstances.

What happens if the employee goes on secondment but for any reason it does not work out?

With effective recruitment, planning and induction this should be a rare occurrence.  In the event there are difficulties, the seconding manager should meet with the member of staff as soon as possible to discuss the issues and how they might be resolved.  Human Resources can provide advice to both parties.  If the initial discussions fail to resolve any issues or concerns, a meeting should be held between the member of staff, the seconding manager and the substantive manager to decide if the secondment should continue, or be finished early.  If it does finish, the member of staff will return to their substantive post.

Are staff automatically allowed to go on a secondment ?

Managers are encouraged to support their staff in undertaking secondments wherever possible, and where secondments are agreed facilitate the individual’s prompt transition to their new role.  We recognise there maybe occasions where it is not operationally possible to allow a member of staff to undertake a secondment but this should be limited to when a secondment would lead to a significant detrimental impact on the department or colleagues or where it isn’t possible to recruit a replacement.