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Secondment Guidelines for Professional Staff

Category Human Resources
Type Guideline
Approved by Human Resources Director
Date Guideline Took Effect 31 March 2021
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Human Resources Director
Responsible Officer HR Manager, Promotions & Remuneration
Review Date 29 March 2023

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.

Purpose

The University is committed to providing opportunities for career development and recognises the value secondments provide in achieving this. A secondment provides a practical opportunity for employees to develop in line with their career aspirations. Secondments benefit the University by building skills, promoting employee mobility, and increasing collaboration and understanding.

Organisational Scope

These guidelines apply to professional staff secondments which occur internally within the University. Secondments may be offered on a full-time or part-time basis. Fixed term employees are able to apply where the duration of secondment is less than the remaining period of their fixed-term contact.

Secondments to external organisations and academic secondments are reviewed by the HR Director on a case-by-case basis.

Definitions

Direct to Offer
Direct to Offer is the process used to appoint a chosen candidate without the need to publicly advertise the vacancy.
Employee
A person currently employed by the University.
Secondment
An arrangement between areas where an employee is temporarily transferred to another position in a team, Department, Division or School within the University.
Substantive Manager
The manager of the employee’s original position.
Secondment Manager
The manager of the position the employee is seconded into.
Secondee
The individual who is being seconded.
Substantive post
The original position that the employee is employed to.

Content

1. When secondments are appropriate

  1. A secondment should be considered when there is a temporary vacancy and/or work to be undertaken that will provide opportunities for employees to:
    • gain new skills and experience and acquire knowledge of other areas and roles
    • share knowledge and provide expertise
    • utilise specialist skills and abilities for a particular project or task
    • build resilience and develop potential
    • develop leadership and project management skills.
    Secondment opportunities may arise during periods of organisational change, or project work, or to cover employee absences, or recruitment periods.

2. When secondments are not appropriate

  1. Secondments cannot be used as a trial period before making a permanent appointment, or as a substitute for performance management, or problem resolution.

3. Appointment Procedure

  1. The recruiting manager should consider whether a position could be offered as a secondment before starting a recruitment process. The delegations for secondments are subject to the same delegation as for recruitment.
  2. Options for appointing to secondments of up to twelve month’s duration are:
    1. Appoint a current employee for a period of up to 12 months to undertake the secondment by using the Direct to Offer process without the need to publicly advertise the vacancy.
    2. Advertise the secondment within their area or all of the University, inviting expressions of interest in order to provide a development opportunity for employees for a period of up to 12 months.
  3. Secondment opportunities of more than 12 months duration would normally be advertised within the University and be subject to the same recruitment process as a fixed term appointment.
  4. Employees wishing to apply for a secondment opportunity should discuss it with their substantive manager prior to applying.

4. Points for a manager to consider when reviewing a secondment request

  1. In determining whether an employee can be released to participate in the secondment, considerations will include the employee’s professional development, the impact on the operation, the contribution to the University, and how the substantive role could be backfilled.
  2. Whilst the University supports substantive managers to release employees for secondment opportunities, in some instances this may not be reasonably done. For example, if there is important work that cannot be covered, or the employee has specialist technical knowledge that would be difficult to replace. When an employee is not released for a secondment, Managers are encouraged to explore alternative development and career options.
  3. Once a preferred candidate is identified the secondee and secondment manager should confirm the details of the secondment including duration, Performance and Development Review (PDR) processes and release plans with the staff member.

5. Remuneration

  1. A secondment would not normally result in a reduction in salary level. However, there may be instances where the employee applies for a secondment to a lower level position for their own development. In this instance their salary will be applied in line with the Remuneration policy.
  2. If a secondment is to a higher level and the employee is on the Professional Staff Individual Employment Agreement or General Staff Collective Agreement, the Higher Duties Allowance provisions in those agreements will apply.
  3. If a secondee receives a Higher Duties Allowance and their substantive salary increases through the PDR process, then the Allowance must be reviewed.
  4. The Human Resource Director will consider remuneration for seconded professional employees on other employment agreements on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Where the secondment is at the same level, the employee will normally move across on the same salary. Future increases are managed via the PDR (Section 9).
  6. It is recommended that the remuneration is discussed with HR before any offer is made.

6. Secondment Agreement

The Secondment agreement must have the appropriate delegated approvals and be completed by HR Services prior to the secondment commencing.

7. Secondment Duration

  1. Secondments will normally not exceed two years. When the secondment covers a temporary absence, they will normally be for less than one year. If there are exceptional circumstances where the period of secondment might exceed these timeframes, advice must be sought from Human Resources.
  2. The term and notice period for a secondment can only be extended by agreement of all parties – the employee, and the secondment and substantive managers.

8. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Substantive Manager
    During the secondment the substantive manager is responsible for maintaining regular contact with the secondee and keep them up-to-date on workplace developments or changes. This will ensure a smooth transition when they return to their substantive post.
  2. Secondment Manager
    During the duration of the secondment the secondment manager will be responsible for the allocation of work, supervision of their performance, and approval of annual and other leave.

9. Performance and Development Reviews

  1. Prior to the secondment commencing, the substantive manager and the secondee will have a progress performance review for the period since the last formal review. The outcome of this review will be recorded on the PDR form.
  2. The secondment manager will meet with the employee at the commencement of the secondment to set their expectations and plans for development or training.
  3. During the secondment the substantive manager will normally have primary responsibility for the secondees PDR. In some instances, depending on the duration and location of the secondment and timing of the PDR, it may be appropriate for the secondee manager to be primarily responsible.

10. Funding

All costs for the secondment including salaries, leave, training or development will be borne by the seconding department unless agreed otherwise. If the training is of benefit to both roles, then the allocation of the costs should be agreed on in advance.

11. End of the Secondment

  1. The secondee will return to their substantive post at the end of the secondment. Prior to the end of the secondment, a meeting should be arranged between the employee and the substantive manager to discuss the implications of returning to their substantive position. It is recommended that the meeting takes place at least one month before the end of the secondment.
  2. At the end of the secondment period the secondee will revert to the pay and other terms and conditions of their substantive role. In some instances, there may be changes to pay as a result of PDR.
  3. A secondment can be ended early by either the secondee or the secondment manager by giving a notice period of not less than one month. If the secondee’s substantive position is being filled during the secondment, the person filling the position must be aware that they may be given one month’s notice, or less, if the secondment ends early.
  4. If the position that the secondee occupied or occupies becomes a permanent vacancy, the secondee will not have an automatic right to be appointed to that position. The secondee will be able to apply for the position as part of the recruitment process.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact the HR Manager, Promotions & Remuneration at dan.wilson@otago.ac.nz