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Using secondments at the University

Guidance for managers on the use of secondments across the University.

Purpose and scope


Secondments refer to the temporary movement or ‘loan’ of a member of staff either to another part of the University or within the same department (internal secondment). It also refers to someone moving to to a separate organisation (external outward secondment) or from an external organisation (external inward secondment).

We support the use of secondments, recognising them as:

  • developmental for the individual

  • an additional means of advancing career paths

  • adding to the skills and knowledge base of the University

  • an opportunity to build or develop relationships with other organisations or within the University

This document provides practical guidance on the successful implementation of secondment agreements. It is not intended to be prescriptive, but to facilitate the development of our staff to the benefit of both the individual and the University.


Opportunities for secondments are open to all core University staff − for example, staff appointed on regular or substantive contracts which are either open-ended or fixed term over three months.

Secondments can be either full time or part time in nature. Employees who are temporarily carrying out the full duties of a higher graded post and in receipt of an 'acting up' allowance or honorarium are outside the scope of this guidance.

Types of secondment opportunities

Internal secondments


Internal secondments occur where a department wishes to temporarily deploy a member of staff who has the appropriate skills and abilities needed to fulfil a particular role or project. The role should be for a limited duration, for example to complete a specific project or to cover a member of staff who is on maternity leave.

Terms and conditions

Secondees will maintain their continuous service and will be subject to the terms and conditions of the secondment post. An increase in annual leave entitlement will be applied pro-rata for the period of the secondment. Probation does not normally apply to those on secondment.

The secondee will be paid in line with the grade of their new position. Any increments and pay awards due will be made to the substantive post as normal so that the member of staff returns to the salary that they would have received had the secondment not occurred.

The secondee would be expected to move into the relevant pension scheme for the grade of post.

An employee will be consulted in the normal way if their substantive post could be affected by organisational changes while they are on secondment.

External Secondments: Inward


External inward secondments occur when the University wishes to deploy a member of staff from an external organisation who has specific skills, knowledge and/or abilities needed to fulfil a particular role or project. This role or project will be of a limited duration.

Terms and conditions

While on external inward secondment, secondees will maintain the terms and conditions (including annual leave) of their own organisation.

During the secondment

Day-to-day management will be delegated to the University, however the substantive employer must play a role in any performance, discipline or grievance matters which the University may raise relating to the secondee. The University’s disciplinary rules shall apply to the secondee during the period of secondment.

While on the premises of the University, the secondee must have regard for the relevant policies and procedures which will apply during the period of the secondment such as health and safety. In these circumstances, it is the responsibility of the University to make the secondee aware of the relevant policies and procedures as part of an induction process.

External Secondments: Outward


External outward secondments occur when the University of Bath works collaboratively with an external organisation that wishes to deploy a member of staff with the required expertise from the University for a specific period of time.

Secondments of academic staff must be arranged through the relevant Head of Department and in line with Ordinance 17 which requires the permission of the Vice-Chancellor (on behalf of Council).

Application process

A member of University staff who is interested in a secondment opportunity with an external organisation will need to apply using the recruitment process for that organisation.

Terms and conditions

Whilst on external outward secondment, secondees will maintain the terms and conditions (including annual leave) of the University. Continuous service will be maintained. The secondee has the right to return to their substantive post (or a suitable alternative) upon completion of the secondment.

The secondee will normally be paid in line with the grade of their new position. Any increments and pay awards due will be made as normal. In most situations, staff will be able to pay into their University pension.

An individual will be consulted in the normal way if their substantive post could be affected by organisational changes while they are on secondment.

During the secondment

Day-to-day management will be delegated to the host organisation. However, the University must play a role in any performance, discipline or grievance matters the host organisation may raise relating to the secondee.

Arrangements for keeping in touch should be made between University, the secondee and the host organisation.

End of the secondment

A ‘light touch’ induction should be arranged by the substantive line manager for the returning secondee. It is expected that they will produce a short report about their experience on their return to the University.

Guidance for managers

Advertising a secondment opportunity

All vacancies should be advertised in line with the Recruitment Code of Practice and normally secondment opportunities should be advertised in this manner.

Vacancies will not be routinely advertised as a secondment unless they are specifically to meet the needs for skills and knowledge exchange or transfer. Or to bring current professional skills into the organisation on a short to medium term basis.

Any proposal to advertise a post as a secondment opportunity needs to be approved. Approval will be automatically given to fill any subsequent vacancies even if they occur in another department or faculty. This applies to secondments of up to one year.

The backfill arrangements for a post vacated because of a secondment which is over one year will be required to go through the normal approval process.

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 fill an open ended or permanent vacancy.

As with all vacancies, the redeployment procedure must be followed first to determine whether any suitable redeployee could fill the position. Applications from both internal secondees and external applicants should be considered alongside each other and a selection made against the person specification.

In some circumstances, departments may advertise a short term internal secondment to a ring-fenced group of staff. For example, a secondment opportunity maybe advertised only within the department or faculty if it is believed that the necessary skills and knowledge can be obtained from within a specific area, or if it is pending organisational change to minimise risk of redundancy.

In exceptional circumstances, the University will identify secondment opportunities for individuals in line with the University or departmental needs and/or development needs of the individual. Such opportunities may not be advertised and will need the approval of the Director of Human Resources. Details of this decision can be provided on request.

If considering offering an external inward secondment to a named individual (other than one named in a grant), the Head of Department should set out the business case for approval. It should be noted that there may be issues relating to eligibility to work if the individual in a non-EEA national and this needs to be fully assessed before any arrangement can be progressed.

Considering a request for a secondment

Those interested in a secondment opportunity must approach their line manager to discuss the possibility of a secondment application being supported by their department. This should be done before submitting an application.

A manager should seriously consider whether it is possible to release an individual from their current role for the requested time period. They must consider the needs of the department, the development needs of the member of staff and the department’s ability to ensure the individual can return to the substantive role.

While allowing members of staff to take secondments is encouraged, it is acknowledged that it will not always be possible. Where it is not possible to release a member of staff, this should be discussed and the rationale explained to the individual.

Duration of a secondment

Secondments will usually be for a period of at least six months. A longer period can be agreed subject to the approval of the Head of Department, who will notify the relevant Human Resource Business Partner.

Secondment Agreement

Before an external secondment takes place there should be a written agreement among the three parties as to the nature and terms of the secondment. This will be prepared by HR and will set out the obligations, expectations and accountabilities of each party and the performance objectives or outcomes expected of the secondment.

The agreement will refer to financial arrangements; usually the host organisation will be invoiced for the salary costs on a quarterly basis.

For an external outward secondment, the University will normally provide the agreement to be signed. For inward secondments, the external organisation will normally provide the agreement.

For internal secondments, HR will issue a letter varying the contract of the individual stipulating the details of the secondment and confirming that they will return to their substantive post on a specific date.

Completion of a secondment

Before a secondment is due to finish and the individual either returns to their substantive organisation or post or an alternative post in the University, a meeting should be arranged between the individual and their line manager at least one month prior to the return date. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that both the line manager and the individual are up to date with any developments and issues.

Ending the secondment early

If any party, including the secondee, wishes to terminate the secondment prior to the agreed end date this should be discussed as soon as possible with all the parties concerned.

A revised end date should be agreed and a minimum of one months' written notice provided.

Extending a secondment

If approval has been given by SVRG to make a post open-ended rather than for a defined period, it must be advertised. The secondee can apply for the position but must be considered against other candidates as part of a normal recruitment exercise.

In exceptional circumstances, where a member of staff has been employed in the seconded post for 12 months or more and has applied through the normal recruitment and selection process, they may be able to be confirmed in the role at the discretion of the Head of Department and in consultation with the Director of Human Resources. Any decision will be taken on a case by case basis depending on the requirements of the Head of Department.


This guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated to reflect new employment legislation when required.

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