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Secondment Guidance


1. Properly arranged and managed, secondments can be constructive and beneficial to UCL and its staff. Secondments should be designed to enable secondees to enhance or develop skills and their understanding of particular areas of work that are relevant to their current or future role. Skills and expertise gained can then be transferred back to their substantive role at UCL. Secondments may also develop valuable relationships between UCL and other organisations. This document gives practical guidance on the successful implementation of secondment agreements.

2. Secondments will normally be either:

Internal:between two UCL faculties/ divisions/ departments or from a member of staff within the same department - for example to cover a period of leave
External Outward:from a UCL employee to an external organisation or
External Inward:from an external organisation to UCL

3. The secondment can be either full time or part time.

Internal Secondments

4. Internal secondments occur where a department wishes to temporarily deploy a member of staff who has the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to undertake particular tasks. These tasks should be for a limited duration, for example to cover a staff member who is on maternity or long term sick leave. Internal secondment can be used when an existing member of staff applies and is appointed to a fixed term post elsewhere within UCL.

5. The filling of the vacated post by a secondment allows the secondee to broaden experience and develop further while retaining the right to return to the substantive post at the end of the secondment. The acquisition of additional knowledge and experience adds to the skills base of the seconding department.

Advertising internal secondments

6. Before a secondment opportunity is advertised the UCL redeployment policy must be followed and the redeployment register checked to determine whether any suitable redeployee could fill the position.

It is UCL policy that all posts are advertised externally and it is normal practice that secondment opportunities should be advertised externally in line with the guidance in the recruitment and selection policy. The advert should state that secondees from UCL will be considered for the fixed term position alongside any external applicants.

8. In some circumstances departments may advertise a short term internal secondment (less than 12 months) without advertising externally. For example a secondment opportunity maybe advertised only within the department or faculty if it is believed that the necessary skills can be obtained from within a specific area, or if it is pending organisational change to minimise risks of redundancy. It is recommended that the group targeted is kept as wide as possible and all applicants for the secondment opportunity are considered.

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

10. If a secondment is extended and becomes open ended rather than fixed term it must be advertised externally following the recruitment and selection policy. The secondee can apply for the position but must be considered against other candidates as part of a normal recruitment exercise. The same application process should be followed by both internal and external applicants. If agreed by all parties the secondment maybe extended by a limited duration without advertising. For example the secondment could be extended if there is an extension to maternity leave.

Allowing a current employee to take a secondment opportunity

11. External or internal adverts for secondment opportunities should stipulate that anyone wishing to apply as a secondee should discuss the possible secondment with their existing line manager before applying. A decision can then be made about whether the employees existing role can be covered during the secondment and plans for how their duties will be covered can be considered.

12. If an employee raises this their manager should seriously consider the request and if s/he is unable to agree to hold the substantive post open s/he should discuss the rationale for the decision with the staff member. While allowing employees to take secondments is encouraged it is acknowledged that it will not always be possible. For example if there is urgent work which cannot be covered, or the postholder has specialist technical knowledge that would be difficult to replace for a limited period, then it may not be possible to release an employee for secondment and hold their substantive role.

Selecting people for internal secondments

13. Applications from both internal secondees and external applicants should be considered alongside each other and a selection should be made against the person specification for the role in line with the guidance given in the recruitment and selection policy.

Internal Secondment agreement

14. If the fixed term post is filled by an internal secondee they will receive a contract for the secondment. This will specify that they will be paid in line with the grade of their new position. The contract will also stipulate the right to return to their old position at the end of the fixed term, or on the return of an employee if the post is covering a period of leave. Other terms and conditions will normally remain unaffected during the secondment.

Ending a Secondment

15. Where a secondment is agreed it is on the understanding that employees have the right to return to their substantive post at the end of the period of secondment.

External Secondments

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

17. External inward secondments occur when UCL wishes to deploy a member of staff from an external organisation who has specific skills and abilities needed to fulfil a particular role or project. This role or project will be of a limited duration. If the post becomes open ended rather than fixed term it must be advertised externally. The secondee can apply for the position but must be considered against other candidates as part of a normal recruitment exercise.

18. Guidance on issues relating specifically to overseas secondments can be found in paragraphs 32 to 36 below.


19. There may be the need for an exchange to take place where an employee is seconded out from UCL to another organisation and is temporarily replaced by an employee of an external organisation being seconded in. In these cases the two secondments should be dealt with separately and covered by separate secondment agreements. A link may need to be made regarding the duration of the secondment, for example if one of the secondments ends earlier than expected the other secondment will normally end at the same time.

Secondment agreement

20. When arranging secondments it is important, both for UCL and the employees concerned, that the arrangements and responsibilities of the different parties are made clear. Before a secondment takes place, there should be mutual understanding and a written agreement among the three parties as to the nature and terms of the secondment. These agreements must be signed before any secondment takes place.

21. If a department wishes to set up an external secondment they should ensure that it has been approved by the Head of Department and make their HR Consultancy Contact aware of it as soon as possible. If it is an outward secondment UCL will normally provide the secondment agreement to be signed. If the secondment is inward the external organisation will normally provide the agreement. Template external overseas and UK based secondment agreements are linked at the end of this guidance.

Terms and Conditions

22. Whilst on external secondment, secondees will maintain the same terms and conditions relating to their employment at UCL. Continuous service will be maintained, though day to day management will be delegated to the seconding organisation.

23. The relevant policies and procedures of the secondee's own organisation such as grievance and disciplinary procedures will continue to apply to the secondee. However, whilst on the premises of the external organisation the secondee must have regard for the relevant policies and procedures of that organisation which will apply during the period of the secondment e.g. health and safety. In these circumstances it is the responsibility of the external organisation to make the secondee aware of the relevant policies and procedures.

24. If any party, including the secondee, wishes to terminate the secondment agreement prior to the agreed end date this should be discussed as soon as possible with all the parties concerned. For example it might be agreed to end the secondment early if the secondee has been on long term sickness or grievance or disciplinary proceedings have been instigated in relation to the secondment. Following discussion, if it is agreed that the period of secondment should be terminated earlier than the original agreed end date, a revised end date should be agreed.

Annual Leave

25. A secondee going from UCL to another organisation will be entitled to the same amount of leave, including bank holidays and closure days that they are entitled to at UCL. This means that secondees should have 41 days leave in total if full time. Bank holiday and closure days may differ in different organisations and in different countries. If this is the case the amount of annual leave can be adjusted to ensure the total amount remains at 41 days.

26. For example a secondee has 10 bank holidays/ closure days at the organisation to which they are seconded but 14 at UCL. In this situation the amount of annual leave to which they are entitled could be increased to 31 days. In addition they would receive 10 public holidays/ closure days meaning the overall entitlement remains at 41 days. See the wording in the template agreement for an example of how this can be set out.

Pay arrangements

27. In outward secondments UCL will continue to pay the employee for the duration of their secondment. Any increments and pay awards due will be made as normal. UCL will normally claim the costs of this pay from the host organisation. The arrangements for recharge should build in the salary on costs and any increments/pay awards that will fall during the period of secondment. Departments should take into account that the secondment fee will normally be subject to VAT which will increase the costs of inward secondments. The timing and method of reclaiming costs should be determined with the external organisation prior to the secondment being agreed but it is preferable that this is done on a quarterly basis.


28. In normal situations a UCL employee undertaking a secondment at another organisation will be able to continue paying into their UCL pension. Pension deductions will continue as normal from the salary that continues to be paid by UCL.

Insurance and indemnity

29. UCL insurance will not normally cover an employee who has been seconded to another organisation, e.g. a UCL employee will not be covered by UCL insurance if they have an accident in their seconded workplace. In these cases the secondee should be covered by the insurance policy of the host organisation, for example a secondee based at UCL will be covered by UCL's Public Liability Policy where UCL is found to be legally liable for any claim.

30. It is normal practise for UCL to include indemnity clauses in external outward secondment agreements. Indemnity clauses protect UCL in cases where the secondment agreement is not adhered to by the host organisation. Please see the suggested wording in the template agreement at the end of this guidance.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

31. It is normal practice that the host organisation of any secondment will own the intellectual property of any work associated with the secondment, unless it is otherwise specified in the secondment agreement. Any intellectual property prior to the secondment will remain with the employer.

Overseas secondments

Medical insurance

32 Any employee undertaking an outward secondment overseas will need to be covered by UCL's travel insurance policy which would cover medical expenses for the secondee. June Campbell in the Finance division should be advised when setting up the overseas secondment. If overseas secondments exceed one year UCL's insurers charge additional premiums related to medical expenses which would need to be met. This additional charge will normally need to be met by the department organising the secondment.

Right to work

33. Any overseas secondment is subject to the employee being and remaining eligible to work in the country in which they will be based. The secondment agreement will be subject to the employee obtaining the right to work before the secondment commences. Similarly a secondee coming to UCL from overseas will need to ensure that they have the right to work in the UK and their documentation must be checked prior to the start date of the secondment.


34. In outward overseas secondments the secondee will often be paid by UCL from within the UK. In these situations the employee will continue to be paid in UK currency. Alternatively an overseas secondee may be paid by a payroll function based overseas. In these cases the secondee maybe paid in the overseas currency using a conversion rate from their current salary. Please see the two payment options in the overseas secondment template for examples of how this information can be specified.


35. Tax payable on a secondee's salary will vary depending on the length of the secondment and the new country in which the secondee will be residing and working in. In outward overseas secondments the employee will continue to be paid by UCL and tax will continue to be deducted at the UK rate unless payroll are informed otherwise. To become a non resident for income tax in the UK the employee must be in full time employment overseas for a complete tax year. In addition visits to the UK must total fewer than 183 days in any tax year and average fewer than 91 days a tax year (taken over a period of up to a maximum of four years). In the first instance advice about personal tax status during extended overseas secondments should be sought from the HMRC. If the secondee believes that they should not be paying UK tax they need to apply to the HMRC for a no tax code. A form P85 may be relevant. Payroll managers should then be consulted as soon as possible to discuss your arrangements.

National insurance

36. In outward overseas secondments national insurance will remain payable in the UK for at least the first 52 weeks (where the employee was resident in the UK immediately prior to the secondment). If the secondment is to an organisation in the European Economic Area (EEA), or a Reciprocal Agreement Country either a E101 or Certificate of Coverage should be applied for. These documents will mean that the secondee will not normally have to pay contributions to the host country's social security scheme for the first 52 weeks and will only pay UK NI contributions in this time period. With effect from March 2010, new European Social Security Regulations will allow secondees going to other EEA countries to stay in their home country social security system for up to 24 months. Please see the HMRC web site for a list of EEA countries and those with reciprocal agreements with the UK. In the first instance the HMRC should be contacted for information about the national insurance arrangements related to a specific secondee. Payroll managers should then be consulted as soon as possible to discuss your arrangements.

If the secondment is inward to UCL from an EEA or reciprocal agreement country the substantive employer will normally apply for an E101 or Certificate of Coverage and UK NI contributions would not normally have to be made during the first 52 weeks.

Appendix A - Template overseas external outward secondment agreement

Appendix B - Template external outward secondment agreement within the UK

HR Policy and Planning
March 2010