Secondment: A Versatile Tool for Talent Development and Organizational Efficiency
Written by: Rinaily Bonifacio
Last updated: 13 February 2024
Table of contents
What is secondment?
Secondment is the temporary transfer of an employee to a different position or job within their organisation or another. It is a way for an employee to gain experience, skills, and knowledge outside their usual role and responsibilities.
Secondment can be a low-risk opportunity for personal and professional development and benefit the host employer, such as sharing expertise and filling gaps in staffing.
Organisations worldwide have been utilising this arrangement to develop internal talent, increase cross-organisational collaboration, and boost employee engagement. Secondments can range from short-term projects (e.g., one or two months) to longer assignments (up to a year or more).
Employees may be placed in an entirely new role outside their current job function. In other cases, a secondment may involve continuing the same organisation but in a different department or division.
How does secondment work?
Secondment typically involves an agreement between the employee, their existing employer, and the host employer.
The staff remains an employee of their original company during the placement period and is expected to return to their original position at the end of the secondment arrangement.
Some employees remain in the same organisation but work in a different department or division. In this case, the employee will be expected to complete the tasks and responsibilities associated with the new role.
The host organisation may provide additional training, guidance, and mentorship to help employees adjust to the new environment and duties.
The terms and conditions of the program, such as the duration, duties, and compensation, are usually outlined in a secondment contract and agreed on by all parties involved.
Conditions for completion
The conditions for completing a secondment vary depending on the specific secondment arrangement.
Employees may be required to complete specific tasks or projects, attend training or development programs, or meet performance objectives during the secondments offer period.
The employee and their original company employer may also agree on specific provisions for completing the placement, such as the need to obtain specific certifications or qualifications.
It's worth noting that secondment does not involve the transfer of any employment rights or obligations from one organisation to another.
After a successful secondment period, both parties will review progress and determine whether further action is needed.
Details on employment
During the secondment, the employee remains a staff of their line manager and continues to receive their salary and benefits from their original company.
However, the employee may also be eligible for additional compensation or benefits from the host employer, such as housing or transportation allowances.
The employee's job title and responsibilities may also change during the secondment, depending on the terms of the secondment agreement.
The details of the posting arrangement should be clearly outlined in the contract, including any changes to conditions of employment and compensation.
At the end of the secondment period, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, both parties must agree on a mutually acceptable outcome for the employee's return to their original employer. It could include a transfer to their previous or new role within the same organisation.
Secondment may involve working with confidential or sensitive information, and the employee may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the privacy and security of the information.
The confidentiality agreement may outline the types of information the employee is not allowed to disclose and may include specific provisions for the protection and handling of the information.
They may also have to return confidential documents or materials at the end of the secondment.
In addition, the employee may have to agree not to use any information shared during their duties for personal gain or advantage and must respect the privacy rights of other parties.
Duties and responsibilities
During the secondment, the staff is expected to perform the duties and responsibilities of the position to which they have been seconded. These duties may differ from their original position and involve new challenges and learning opportunities.
The staff must adhere to the host employer's policies and procedures and comply with any additional terms and conditions outlined in the secondment contract.
There are cases where the employee is given the authority, within their scope of duties, to make decisions on behalf of the new employer. In such cases, the employee must exercise reasonable judgment and use sound decision-making skills while carrying out their duties.
The secondment can also provide an opportunity for professional development and personal growth. The employee should take advantage of the host employer's training and development opportunities.
They should also strive to improve their skills, acquire new competencies, and gain valuable experience throughout the placement period.
Sickness and absence policies
The employee's existing employer's policies on sickness and absence may apply during the secondment period. The employee may also be subject to the new employer's policies and national insurance contributions and may need to report absences or illnesses to both organisations.
The worker is expected to follow the policies of both employers and inform their primary employer if they cannot fulfil their duties due to illness or other reasons.
Salary and compensation
The employee's salary and benefits are typically not affected by the program and continue to be provided by their primary employer. However, the worker may be eligible for additional compensation or benefits from the other employer, such as housing or transportation allowances and training costs.
The terms of the agreement should outline the details of any additional compensation or benefits the employee may receive during the placement period.
What are the benefits of the program?
There are several benefits of this program for both the employee and the second employer:
One of the main benefits of this program is the opportunity for employees to gain experience in new roles, a new team, and environments. Employees can develop new skills, knowledge, and competencies in different settings, which can benefit their professional development.
Improving soft skills
Another critical importance of secondment is the opportunity to improve soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking. When a person works in a new environment, they are exposed to different people and situations, which can help them grow their interpersonal skills.
Exploring new career paths
One of the best ways for people to explore new career paths is through a secondment. By working in a different role in an external company, the employee can gain insight into new industries, roles, and functions, which can help them decide if they want to pursue a career in that field.
Sometimes people can get burned out in their current roles, and a temporary arrangement can help them take a break from their regular duties. It can give them a chance to refresh and recharge, so they return feeling more energised and motivated. It benefits employees and employers by preventing them from feeling burned out in their current roles.
Developing career opportunities
Lastly, a secondment program can help an employee develop career opportunities. Employees can gain valuable experience and connections through the program, which can open up doors for them in the future. It can benefit both the individual and their employer, allowing them to take advantage of new opportunities that might not have been available otherwise.
Types of secondment
There are two main types of secondment: internal secondment and external secondment.
- Internal secondment: Internal placement involves the temporary relocation of a team member to a different role or job within their current role. Internal secondments allows employees to gain skills within their organisation and can effectively develop talent, build new connections and promote internal mobility.
- External secondment: External secondment involves temporarily stationing an employee to a different organisation, either within the same industry or in a different industry. External secondments allows employees to learn new skills, gain exposure to different working cultures, and build networks in different organisations.
Examples of secondment
Secondment can be applied to various positions and industries and involve short-term or long-term assignments.
Some examples of secondment include:
- A marketing executive seconded to a sales team to learn about different aspects of the business. They can then use this knowledge to help improve the marketing strategy. A project manager seconded to a different organisation to lead a high-profile project. It can allow them to build their profile and gain valuable experience in a new industry.
- An HR Associate is seconded to a different department to assist with a specific project where their experience and skills are required.
- A government worker seconded to a non-profit organisation to work on a specific policy issue.
- A software engineer seconded to a startup company to work on a new product development project.
Secondment is a valuable personal and professional growth opportunity that can benefit the staff and the new employer. It allows employees to experience new working conditions, improve skills and knowledge outside their usual roles and responsibilities, and help prevent burnout.
A placement can also be a low-risk opportunity for the new employer to share expertise and fill gaps in staffing. There are two main types of secondment: internal secondment, which involves the temporary transfer of an employee to a different position within their organisation, and external secondment, which involves the temporary posting of an employee to a different organisation.
Secondment can be applied to various positions and industries and involve short-term or long-term assignments. Overall, secondment can be a valuable tool for career development and lead to new job opportunities and promotions for the employee.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are the top frequently asked questions about secondment:
What does secondment mean in a job?
Secondment refers to temporarily stationing a team member to a different role, either within their organisation or at another organisation. Secondment is typically a voluntary opportunity for employees to gain new skills and experience and can be a way for organisations to fill gaps in staffing or share expertise.
Is a secondment a good thing?
Secondment can be a good thing as it offers employees the chance to gain new skills and experience. Secondment can also help Organisations to fill gaps in staffing or share expertise.
Another good point is that the program can help to improve relationships, both internally and externally, as it creates an opportunity for employees to work with different teams or people. Additionally, by providing a break from the usual working environment, work placement can help boost employee morale.
Do you get paid more for secondment?
The employee's salary and benefits are typically not affected by the posting and continue to be provided by their existing employer. However, the employee may be eligible for additional compensation or benefits from the receiving employer, such as housing or transportation allowances.
The terms of the secondment agreement should outline the details of any additional compensation or benefits the employee may receive during the placement period.
Is a secondment a promotion?
A secondment is not necessarily a promotion, although it can lead to promotion opportunities in the future. Secondment is a temporary posting to a different role and does not necessarily involve changing the employee's job title or responsibilities. However, the skills and experience gained during the arrangement can enhance an employee's resume and may lead to promotion opportunities in the future.
What can you learn from the secondment period?
A placement can allow employees to gain new skills and experience, develop their networks, and build relationships with different teams or people.
Additionally, secondment allows employees to gain insight into different working cultures and practices, which can be invaluable in their career development. Furthermore, by providing a break from the usual working environment, secondment can help boost morale and productivity.
Can you refuse a secondment agreement?
Yes, an employee can refuse a secondment agreement if they choose to do so. However, discussing their concerns with their employer before making any decisions is essential.
If the employee decides not to accept the relocation offer, it is best to keep an open dialogue with their employer and explain why they are declining the opportunity. It can help to ensure that there is no negative impact on their career prospects.
What are the benefits of secondment?
The main benefit of secondment is that it offers employees the chance to gain new skills and experience, develop their networks, and build relationships with different teams or people.
Additionally, it can help to improve relationships, both internally and externally, as it creates an opportunity for employees to work with different teams or people.
Furthermore, by providing a break from the usual working environment, a transfer can help boost morale and productivity. Finally, secondment can open up career advancement opportunities in the future.
Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.
Please note that the information on our website is intended for general informational purposes and not as binding advice. The information on our website cannot be considered a substitute for legal and binding advice for any specific situation. While we strive to provide up-to-date and accurate information, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of the information on our website for any purpose. We are not liable for any damage or loss arising from the use of the information on our website.
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