External or internal secondment?

Internal secondment is the temporary deployment of a member of staff within the University to another role for a specific purpose and period of time to the mutual benefit of all parties. An internal secondment is usually for no longer than 2 years. Guidance on Internal Secondment.

1. Purpose of guidance

  1. The University is committed to the development of staff in the pursuit of excellence and the highest standards of performance. Secondments are viewed as potentially a means to support these aims by providing personal and professional career development for staff without losing them permanently to another organisation.
  2. External secondments can also be an effective way of bringing additional experience into the University and/or building links with other institutions/external organisations.
  3. All secondments need to be considered carefully in the context of individual, departmental and strategic objectives, plans, resources, commitments and in some circumstances, the need to temporarily replace a role by using a fixed-term contract.

2. External Secondments - Outgoing

  1. An outgoing external secondment is where a member of staff of the University of York is based with another organisation for a defined period of time whilst remaining an employee of the University of York.
  2. In these circumstances, the member of staff retains all the University of York terms and conditions of employment including continuous service rights and existing salary and pension arrangements. Any increments and pay awards will be made as usual.
  3. At the end of the secondment the secondee will return to their substantive post with the University of York.
  4. Outgoing external secondments are usually arranged for a defined period of up to 3 years in the first instance. Secondments should be agreed by the Head of Department in consultation with the Dean. The HoD will notify the HR Partner of any proposed secondment arrangements.
  5. Once the secondment is agreed, the HoD should confirm this to the HR Partner. HR will prepare a secondment agreement which sets out the obligations, expectations and accountabilities of each party. The agreement should be signed by the University, the secondee and the appropriate signatory for the Secondment (host) organisation. The HoD will set out the performance objectives and outcomes expected of the secondment.
  6. The University of York will continue to pay the secondee for the duration of their secondment and will invoice the secondment organisation, in order to recover the employment costs.
  7. It should be noted that there may be issues relating to eligibility to work if the individual is a non-EU national. Such considerations should be fully explored before any discussions are entered into with the individual.
  8. Throughout the period of the secondment, the secondee's manager (in the University of York) will maintain regular contact with the secondee, to ensure they are kept up to date with developments.
  9. As the secondee's employer, the University of York will be made aware - by the host organisation - of any performance, capability, conduct or grievance issues that may be raised during the period of secondment relating to the secondee. The host organisation and the secondee's employer will work together to determine the most appropriate means of resolving such issues.
  10. Arrangements to fill the vacated post should be made in accordance with the normal recruitment process by use of a fixed-term contract or internal secondment as appropriate. It will be for the manager to determine whether a fixed-term contract may be advertised as a secondment opportunity. This would apply in circumstances where it is considered likely that the expertise required to fulfil the role already exists within the University.
  11. At the end of an outgoing external secondment

  12. Prior to the end of the period of secondment, a meeting should be arranged between the secondee and their substantive line manager to discuss the return to their substantive post, and in order to update the individual on any changes within the department.
  13. The meeting may cover the following points:
    • updating the secondee on any developments within the department
    • ensuring that all the secondee's work is handed over smoothly
    • de-briefing to understand what has been achieved from the secondment
    • ensuring that the work of the secondee is recognised
    • undertaking a further review of the secondment approximately 3 months after the secondee has returned to their substantive post in order to understand fully the value of the secondment
  14. If, during the term of the secondment, organisational change results in the original post being substantially altered or is at risk of redundancy, the guaranteed right to return will cease to apply. In the event of this happening the individual will be consulted on any changes in line with the University's Organisational Change Protocol, and the Redundancy and Redeployment Policies.
  15. At the end of the secondment the individual will revert to their substantive grade (benefitting from any increments they would have received had the secondment not taken place) if the secondment has involved a change of grade.

3. External Secondments - Incoming

  1. An incoming external secondment is where a member of staff from another employer (the seconding organisation) comes to work for the University of York for a defined period of time whilst maintaining their contract with the seconding organisation (their substantive employer).
  2. At the end of the secondment the individual returns to their substantive employer. The individual remains employed by the seconding organisation, and is not employed by the University of York, so therefore is not eligible for the terms and conditions of the University of York.
  3. Incoming external secondments may be used in a number of ways:
    • to bring a named individual into the University for a defined period of time with a view to them returning to their substantive employer at the end of the period
    • as an advertised opportunity for specific knowledge exchange or transfer from partner organisations or to bring in specialist professional skills that would be otherwise unavailable to the University
    • as an alternative appointment arrangement following the advertisement of a fixed-term post
  4. Vacancies are not normally advertised as a secondment unless they are specifically to meet the needs for knowledge exchange/transfer or to bring current professional skills into the organisation on a short to medium term basis. An advert for a fixed-term post may include a statement that applications for secondment are also welcome. Secondments will not normally be considered in response to an advert to recruit to an open contract.
  5. If considering offering a secondment to a named individual (other than one named on a research grant) the HoD should set out the rationale via the HR Partner to the Director of HR for restricting the opportunity to the proposed secondee. It should be noted that there may be issues relating to eligibility to work if the individual is a non-EU national. Such considerations should be fully explored before any discussions are entered into with the named individual.
  6. Following financial approval and provision of a job description, the HoD should confirm the arrangements to HR. HR will prepare a secondment agreement which sets out the obligations, expectations and accountabilities of each party and the performance objectives or outcomes expected of the secondment. The agreement will need to be signed by the University, the secondee and the appropriate signatory from the substantive employer (the seconding organisation).
  7. Secondments are usually arranged for a defined period of up to 3 years in the first instance. Secondments should be agreed by the Head of Department in consultation with the Dean. The HoD will notify the HR Partner of the arrangement.
  8. The substantive employer continues to pay the secondee's salary and invoices the University of York.
  9. Secondees normally work under the terms and conditions set out in their substantive contract. The University of York would need to put arrangements in place to record any annual leave taken and any periods of sickness absence and inform the substantive employer of them. The University of York will be provided with a copy of the secondee's contract of employment including the main terms and conditions.

4. Preparation

  1. In order to maximise the success of the secondment opportunity, clear objectives should be set and there should be a clear understanding of the purpose/desired outcomes of the secondment by all parties.
  2. For the secondment to be managed effectively and maximum benefits realised a formal induction programme should be developed and implemented by the line manager for the secondment which should be followed by regular reviews, taking into consideration the following points:
    • all parties to be clear as to the objectives, benefits and outcomes of the secondment
      • objectives to be set for the secondee related to the department's business plans
    • regular review periods to be built into the secondment
    • the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the secondment to be defined
    • regular contact between the substantive line manager and the secondee should be maintained throughout the period of the secondment by for example, distribution of information, invitation to key meetings and presentations and personal visits
    • occupational health clearance if appropriate
    • a VBS (Vetting and Barring Scheme) check may be required depending on the role

5. Extension requests

  1. In exceptional circumstances, an extension of a secondment may be requested or a secondment may become open. The HoD should agree this in consultation with the Dean and discuss it with the HR Partner.
  2. For external outgoing secondments which are extended, there is no guarantee that the individual will be able to return to their substantive post at the University of York.
  3. If there is no agreement by the substantive department to an extension and an individual decides not to return to their substantive post, then the individual would relinquish their right to return to their substantive post.
  4. Where a seconded role becomes available on a permanent basis, where there was an open recruitment process for the secondment and where there have been no substantial changes to the role, the secondee may be offered the role on a substantive basis, subject to the agreement of the seconding line manager, the substantive line manager and the secondee.
  5. If the secondee was recruited to the secondment opportunity without a competitive selection process, s/he may apply to be considered for an open contract position if this becomes available, in line with the University's Recruitment Policy.

6. Difficulties arising during the secondment

  1. The substantive employer is expected to assist as appropriate in any performance, capability, conduct or grievance matters relating to the secondee.
  2. If difficulties arise during the period of secondment and it is not working successfully, all 3 parties - the substantive line manager, the seconding line manager and the secondee - should discuss the situation with reference to the secondment agreement, the relevant procedures and HR advice if necessary to decide whether it should continue or not.