Things You Should Know About Secondment Agreements

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Home > Blog > Things You Should Know About Secondment Agreements

It is sometimes necessary for workers to temporarily move to a different area of their organisation or to spend a short period of time working for a client or for a different organisation altogether, all while still employed in their initial role. These types of arrangements are called secondments, and they can be a beneficial move for employers for a number of reasons.

Read on to find out what a secondment entails, the various benefits and the legal considerations you should make before entering into a secondment agreement.

What happens during a secondment?

A secondment sees an employee retain their employment while working in a completely different role either within their own organisation or at a separate organisation, such as a client or supplier.

When an employee is seconded to another department within the same organisation they may work on a particular project or use their skills and leadership traits to help mentor and upskill others in the department.

When an employee is seconded to a different organisation they will effectively work for the other organisation for the agreed period, as if they were one of its own employees, although under a secondment agreement.

Secondments can be part-time or full-time, may be in place for a set period or project or may exist on a casual, ad hoc basis as required.

What are the benefits of a secondment?

A secondment can ease resourcing pressures by temporarily shifting a multi-skilled worker into an area of the business where they will thrive and provide value by upskilling their colleagues. This type of arrangement can be particularly useful in tough economic climates where budgets do not allow for additional resourcing, but specialised skills are required in another part of the business. It may be that the organisation is undertaking a particular project which needs the expertise of an existing employee or there may be a vacancy in the organisation due to parental or personal leave or a leave of absence, which the business would prefer to fill with internal talent.

When employees are seconded to clients or other external organisations, they can add value which can strengthen the relationship between the businesses and they can also bring knowledge back to their employer which can inform the way the relationship is managed, the way work is undertaken and what other products or services can be offered to the client.

Both internal and external secondment arrangements offer several benefits, including:

  • the ability to leverage unique or skilled personnel for specific projects;
  • opportunities for professional development for employees who will be able to extend their existing skillset in a new environment; and
  • facilitating networking, partnership and value-add opportunities.

The employee’s skillset and qualifications should be assessed and aligned with the role they are being seconded to ensure that the arrangement does not adversely impact their original role, the employer’s relationship with its client or the organisation’s reputation.

What legal considerations should be made before seconding an employee?

While secondments offer numerous advantages, such as solving resourcing issues, exposure to specialised skill sets and the opportunity to both provide professional development for the seconded employee and a value add for the organisation or department they will be seconded to, there are some legal issues to consider.

To safeguard employees who are temporarily seconded to another business, the most prudent course of action is to establish a secondment agreement with the partnering organisation which clearly outlines how the secondment should operate.

The agreement should include details about:

  • which organisation is responsible for the employee’s wages and if there will be any additional payments or credits owed to either party;
  • the duration of the secondment;
  • the obligations and responsibilities of each party; and
  • the general expectations of each party.

Failure to formalise a secondment agreement could leave the employee on external secondment in a precarious position, putting them in the middle of tensions between the organisation and the client. This could be damaging to the employer’s reputation and relationships going forward.

Organisations seeking to implement a secondment agreement should obtain professional legal advice from an employment lawyer to ensure the agreement covers issues such as:

  • defining the employee’s duties and responsibilities;
  • establishing mechanisms for managing the employee;
  • specifying when and where the secondment will take place;
  • determining suitable fees and payment terms; and
  • safeguarding business interests, including confidentiality and intellectual property.

For further advice or information about secondments, speak to a HR consultant at Preston HR today.