It is essential that all parties are clear about their responsibilities, expectations, and accountabilities. Departments choosing to offer a post as a secondment instead of a fixed-term appointment, should be aware that they are accepting responsibility for the full employment costs of the post (which will include costs associated with sickness absence, annual leave, etc) in the same way as they would had they appointed the individual as an employee on a fixed-term contract.
Two agreements are usually required: the employment contract between the legal employer and the individual (in the case of a standard secondment between departments, this will be the pre-existing employment contract) and a secondment agreement between the employer, the host and the secondee.
Secondments between University departments
Typically the secondee’s substantive appointment will be reduced to zero hours for the duration of the secondment, and the individual will be appointed to a secondment post within the new department who will pay the salary directly.
A template internal secondment agreement is available from your HR Business Partner. This acts as a contract amendment, outlining the period of the secondment, varying place of work, any payment arrangements, setting out the line management arrangements, etc.
The secondment agreement also sets out the agreement between the two departments with regard to payment arrangements, duration, arrangements for annual leave, sickness, line management, and terminating the secondment early (for example in the event of poor performance). The individual may also be required to sign-up to local policies and procedures (eg Health and Safety) of the new department.
Continuity of service is retained by the employee throughout the secondment.
Secondments to an external company or college
Where an individual is to be seconded to an external company or college the secondment may be set up in one of the following ways:
A standard secondment
The individual's salary continues to be paid as normal by the employing department who invoice the salary costs to the company/college (VAT may have to be added to the salary costs, please contact the VAT team for advice). The individual retains all their University terms and conditions including salary progression, save as amended by the secondment agreement, and their membership of the pension scheme.
Contract/secondment agreement: the individual remains a full employee of the University and the substantive CMS contract remains in place. An additional secondment agreement between University, college and secondee is drawn up covering the secondment period. Please contact your HR Business Partner who can provide a template, however, the detail of the agreement will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the secondment.
Payment: the substantive appointment is reduced to zero in Core. A new, secondment, appointment is set-up and the individual is paid against this new appointment for the duration of the appointment. Salary is paid against an appropriate University grade and scale point. The costs of the appointment are recharged to the company/college. The addition of VAT may be applicable depending on a number of factors including the nature of the work to be undertaken. VAT advice should be sought on a case-by-case basis from the University’s Finance Division before the contractual arrangements are finalised.
Holiday/sickness/other terms: terms relating to holiday and sickness will be amended such that the employee must liaise with the company/college as well as the University in respect of any periods of holiday or sickness which fall during the secondment period.
Continuity of service: the individual would retain continuity of service with the University.
At the end of the secondment: the individual may be able to return to their substantive post with the University, in which case their salary would revert to its previous level (plus any incremental progression that has occurred during the secondment).
Pension: as the individual remains employed by the University throughout the secondment their pension is unaffected.
- the responsibilities are very clear
- the individual retains their role in the University and their continuity of employment
- the individual’s pension and tax situation are unaffected
- in the event that the secondment has to be ended early this will not necessarily affect the underlying employment although the University cannot guarantee ongoing employment
- the company/college may incur a liability for VAT in addition to the cost of the employment
The employee takes unpaid leave from their University post, and is employed directly by the company/college for the duration of the temporary appointment
In exceptional circumstances, the individual may be given unpaid leave from their University post for the duration of the secondment and be engaged and paid directly by the external company/college who will issue their own fixed-term employment contract. Continuity of service with the University is retained by the employee throughout the secondment, and the University may therefore incur other employer liabilities.
Contract: the individual remains an employee of the University and the substantive CMS contract remains in place. The department should write to the employee formally agreeing the period of unpaid leave, and agreeing that, in principle, the individual may return to their substantive post and current salary (plus any incremental progression) at the end of the secondment, but that this cannot be guaranteed. The letter may also wish to outline other arrangements such as how the employee's substantive post will be covered in their absence, any arrangements for retaining contact during the secondment, etc. The company/college draw up their own standard fixed-term contract for the duration of the ‘secondment’.
Payment: the University post is reduced to zero in Core (but is not ended so no P45 is raised). The individual is paid direct by the company/college and completes a P46 stating ‘this is my main job’ and contacts HMRC to ensure that their personal allowances are allocated to the company/college job (and reverses this process on return to the University).
At the end of the secondment: the individual may be able to return to their substantive post with the University and their salary would revert to its previous level (plus any incremental progression that has occurred during the secondment).
Pension: before agreeing to this form of secondment the individual must contact the Pensions Office directly to discuss the pension implications. If a member, the individuals’ existing pensions membership it likely to be suspended whilst on secondment to a company, and in the case of secondments to a college, the college appointment would carry its own pensions membership. Not all colleges participate in the same schemes as the University, and where they do, the individual may end up with two pensions memberships in different areas (final salary and CARE) of the scheme.
National Insurance: individuals with more than one job can, in some circumstances, seek to defer their national insurance contributions. For further information see the Payroll website.
Responsibilities: the company/college would become the primary employer with primary responsibility for the individual.
Holiday/sickness/other terms: the individual would not be able to transfer annual leave entitlements between employers. The company/college will not automatically recognise continuity of service with regard to sick leave entitlement, long service leave, etc.
- there is no additional cost to the company/college
- the responsibilities are very clear
- the individual retains their role in the University and their continuity of employment upon return, in the event that the secondment has to be ended early the substantive post remains
- the pension and tax arrangements are more complicated and potentially disadvantageous for the individual
Back to top