Secondment opportunities support a developmental and motivating workplace enabling staff to develop their knowledge, skills and experience.


Purpose of guidance

  1. The University of York is committed to creating an equitable, developmental and motivating working environment, which values the contributions of its staff. Secondment opportunities can provide an appropriate means of fulfilling this commitment.
  2. Internal secondments can allow departments to recruit to short or fixed term vacancies whilst enabling secondees to develop skills and their understanding of particular areas of work.
  3. Objectives for secondments may include the following:
    • temporarily filling a vacancy where the host department lacks the appropriate expertise
    • transfer of expertise
    • a project assignment
    • secondee's personal and professional development
    • creation of career development opportunities
    • cover of extended leave eg. maternity or adoption leave
    When a member of staff is undertaking an internal secondment, individual objectives should be set with him/her aligned to the overall objectives of the department and service plans. These individual objectives are agreed at an initial meeting at the beginning of the secondment and then regularly reviewed through the formal Performance Review (PR) process.


  1. The Internal Secondment Guidance applies to members of staff who have successfully completed their probation, have been employed by the University for a minimum of 12 months and are performing satisfactorily in their substantive role. The latter will be assumed unless there is information to the contrary by way of evidence of performance-related discussions with their manager. The maximum period for a secondment is usually 2 years.
  2. It will be for the manager to determine whether a fixed-term contract may be advertised on a secondment basis. This would apply in circumstances where it is considered likely that the expertise required to fulfil the role already exists within the University.
  3. Alternatively, an individual may identify an advertised fixed-term opportunity for which they would like to be considered on a secondment basis if they fulfil the required criteria for the role. It will be at the discretion of both the individual's line manager and the recruiting manager to decide how to proceed with the secondment request in such circumstances. If the secondment request cannot be accommodated, it will be for the individual to apply for the post on the same basis as other applicants and s/he will relinquish his/her right to return to their current post.


Internal secondment

  1. An internal secondment is the temporary deployment of a member of staff to another role for a specific purpose and period of time to the mutual benefit of all parties. A secondment is usually for no longer than 2 years and is different to a Temporary Responsibility arrangement which is defined below.
  2. Internal secondments occur where a Department wishes to temporarily deploy a member of staff who has the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to undertake particular responsibilities that cannot be covered by existing roles. Normally these responsibilities are expected to be for a limited duration although there are occasions when the secondment offers an opportunity to assess whether the need for the particular expertise is likely to be longer term.
  3. Secondments may be within the same Department in which the member of staff works (normally where there is no increase to the Department establishment) or elsewhere within the University. The same principles apply to full and part time secondments.
  4. The University supports the use of internal secondments, recognising them as:
    • personal and professional development for the individual
    • a means of succession planning
    • adding to the skills base of the University
  5. Any internal secondment can be made as a direct appointment, if the period of secondment is 6 months or less or it can be made through the normal recruitment process, restricting advertising to the internal jobs board only . Prior to advertising a secondment opportunity, managers should seek advice and guidance from their Management Accountant and HR Partner/Advisor.
  6. Where a post contains specialist or specific skills that can only be sourced within a specified group of staff or a particular Department, or where a Department or Centre is undergoing organisational change, it may be possible to advertise the secondment to these limited groups only. In these circumstances departments should consult with their HR Partner/Advisor before advertising the secondment.
  7. In line with the University's current approach, a secondment opportunity may be progressed at the same time as the vacancy is advertised on the University's redeployment register to determine whether an individual at risk of redundancy could fill the position. If this is the case, that individual should be offered the post.
  8. An internal secondment is different to a temporary responsibility arrangement. A temporary responsibility is generally where unplanned cover for a position at a higher level is required for a short period of time, eg. due to the absence of the substantive post holder, usually within the same department.


Support for internal secondments

  1. Whilst the University is committed to encouraging the personal and professional development of staff, this needs to be balanced against the business needs of the department or service.
  2. Approval of the individual's current line manager is required for a secondment to take place. Secondment opportunities should not be unreasonably refused by the substantive department, however support for secondments is not automatic and may not be possible in all circumstances. This will be dependent upon a number of factors and the length of the proposed secondment will have a bearing on whether the individual may be able to return to their substantive post. Secondments will normally be limited to a maximum of 2 years after which the individual will be expected to return to their substantive post.
  3. Secondments should normally be granted provided they meet the following criteria:
    • that the secondment will provide personal and professional development for the individual
    • that there will be overall benefits to the University through improved individual and organisational performance
    • that the seconding department can reasonably expect to cover the work of the secondee by redeployment, inward secondment or recruitment

Roles and responsibilities

Current (substantive) line manager

  1. Managers should first consider whether it is possible to release the individual from their current role for the requested time period. Managers are advised to involve the HR Partner/Advisor in discussing the options for providing temporary cover of a post at an early stage. It is also important to consider the individual's development needs and how they may best be met by support for a secondment. Individuals can benefit from secondment opportunities and in many cases, will return to their original team at the end of the period with increased knowledge and experience and a greater understanding of the University.
  2. The substantive line manager will be responsible for the resolution of any employment-related issues, including those covered by formal HR Policies and Procedure, that occur whilst the individual is in his/her substantive role, including any that may be partially progressed at the time s/he takes up the secondment opportunity.

Line manager for secondment period

  1. The line manager for the secondment should ensure there is a formal induction programme in place.
  2. During the secondment it is recommended that there are regular reviews with the secondee to ensure individuals are supported and to provide an opportunity to review performance.
  3. The line manager during secondment will be responsible for the resolution of any employment-related issues, including those covered by formal HR Policies and Procedure, that arise during the period of the secondment.


  1. Prior to submitting an application for secondment, individuals must discuss with their line manager whether a secondment application would be supported by the department. Prior to approaching their line manager individuals are encouraged to identify areas of their own development which would directly benefit from the secondment opportunity and ultimately how any knowledge or experience gained as a result will benefit the team to which they will return. Normally a discussion between the manager and individual about the principle of secondment in relation to their personal and professional development will take place as part of the formal, annual Performance Review process though a discussion about a specific secondment opportunity is likely to take place outside of this.


  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, the following should be considered; a formal induction programme should be developed followed by regular reviews, to address these points:
    • all parties to be clear as to the objectives, benefits and outcomes of the secondment
      • objectives to be related to the department's business plans
    • regular review periods should be built into the secondment
      • the seconding line manager should inform the substantive line manager of the secondee's performance against the agreed objectives
    • definition of the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the secondment
    • clarification about how the post will be covered
    • confirmation of a notice period to provide the secondee and department to end the agreement early
    • should a secondment come to an end due to organisational change, notice should be given and the seconding line manager and the substantive line manager have a joint responsibility to manage the process of returning the secondee to their substantive post
    • 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
    • The secondment and restructuring appointment form should be used for current employees who are being placed in new posts.

At the end of secondment

  1. 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 implications of returning to their substantive post, and in order to update the individual on any changes within the department.
  2. This meeting should be arranged at least 1 month before the return date. Two months before the end of the secondment HR Services will notify the current and previous line managers and the individual that the secondment is due to finish as a reminder for this meeting to be arranged.
  3. 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
  4. 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 Redeployment and Redundancy Policies.
  5. 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.

Extension requests

  1. An extension to a current secondment, where the total secondment period will not exceed 2 years, would need to be agreed with the substantive department in order to consider the impact and implications of the change. Advice should be sought from the departmental HR Partner/Advisor.
  2. For appointments which are extended beyond 2 years duration, there is no guarantee that the individual will be able to return to their substantive post, unless agreement for an extension beyond 2 years is reached with the substantive department.
  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 any extension would be offered on a fixed term basis and the individual would relinquish their right to return to their substantive post. At the end of the fixed term appointment, the University will aim to find a suitable alternative post through the Redeployment and Redundancy procedures, however the individual should be aware that this may not be possible. In such circumstances the substantive line manager will seek HR advice and discuss the implications of the continued secondment with the employee. This discussion will be confirmed in writing to the individual.
  4. The University's Redeployment and Redundancy Policies will apply in this situation. In the event of a redundancy situation the continuous service of the individual will be the basis for the redundancy payment.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. The University's Redeployment Policy will also apply in the normal way.
  7. Where a secondment period may be extended or becomes open, the line manager should discuss this with their HR Partner/Advisor

Difficulties arising during the secondment

  1. 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 review the secondment and decide whether it should continue or not.
  2. The HR Partner/Advisor may be approached to provide advice to both individuals and managers for example concerning unsatisfactory conduct, performance or attendance or difficulties in working relationships. Depending on the nature of the difficulties this may involve mediation and negotiation of acceptable outcomes.


  1. Secondment opportunities will be offered as a direct appointment or will be advertised in accordance with the University's Recruitment and Selection Procedure, using the internal jobs board.
  2. Staff on open and fixed term contracts may apply for secondment opportunities, though it is more likely that the managers of staff on fixed term contracts may not be able to support a secondment. If the secondment continues beyond the end of a fixed term contract, as there will be no substantive post to return to, relevant notice will be given to the individual before the end of the secondment that their employment contract will be terminated. The normal redeployment process will apply towards the end of the secondment.
  3. Secondments should not normally be for longer than 2 years. If a post is likely to exceed 2 years, this should be advertised as a fixed term contract rather than a secondment opportunity. Staff on open contracts may choose to apply for a fixed term post but there is no automatic entitlement to return to their substantive post.

Releasing a member of staff to undertake a secondment opportunity

  1. Secondment opportunities should be advertised as such, and individuals who are interested in applying should seek agreement from their line manager prior to submitting an application. A decision may then be made about whether and how the individual's substantive role can be covered during the period of the secondment.
  2. The line manager should consider requests and if s/he is unable to hold the substantive post open should discuss the reason for this with the individual. Whilst allowing individuals to take up secondment opportunities is encouraged, it is acknowledged that this may not always be possible. For example, if there is urgent work which cannot be covered or the postholder has specialist/technical knowledge and expertise that would be difficult to backfill on a temporary basis. Line managers are advised to discuss this with their HR Partner/Advisor.

Appointment letters and terms and conditions of employment

  1. Successful candidates will receive a letter confirming the appointment and terms and conditions covering the period of the secondment. This will specify:
    • the pay and grade of the position, including salary progression
    • the period of the secondment - start and end dates
    • the terms and conditions of employment for the period of the secondment including:
      • pension rights
      • annual leave
      • hours
      • notice period
      • performance review
    • the arrangements to return to the substantive post at the end of the secondment
  2. As a general principle, staff will remain on their substantive grade, salary, benefits, pension scheme and terms and conditions. A non-pensionable, non-consolidated supplement for the difference in pay for the role seconded into if applicable, will be paid. This is similar to the arrangement for awarding a Temporary Responsibility Allowance.

During the secondment

  1. The individual will be paid the appropriate rate for the evaluated role. There is no pay protection in the (unlikely) event of the secondment being at a lower grade than the individual's substantive post.
  2. Annual incremental progression will apply during the period of the secondment.
  3. The Performance Review will be carried out by the appropriate manager at the time it is due.
  4. If, during the period of the secondment, organisational change results in the substantive post being substantially altered or made redundant, the right to return will no longer apply and the University's Redundancy and Redeployment policies will apply.

Salary and Pension

  1. If the secondment is to a higher graded post the individual's salary will be increased accordingly. The increase will usually be based on the bottom spine point of the new grade.

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  • Last reviewed: 31 May 2015