UCL Human Resources


Internal Secondment Guidance

Guidance regarding the arrangement and management of internal secondments.



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. 

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. Information about external UK and overseas secondments can be found in the External Secondment Guidance.

4. This guidance does not apply to Accelerate to Leadership opportunities or acting up arrangements.


5.  Internal secondment is the temporary transfer of an employee to undertake work, whether on a full time or part time basis, to another part of the organisation.

Purpose of secondments

6. Secondment allows UCL to maintain critical services across the University, and to deploy skills where they are most needed, on a temporary basis and without making a permanent commitment. Secondment may be utilised for a variety of reasons, for example, to cover vacant roles, to undertake specific projects, or to assist areas where there are peaks in workload. 

7. Secondment vacancies must be temporary (fixed term) roles and not a permanent vacancy in the structure.  If someone is seconded to a role that becomes a permanent vacancy .e.g. the substantive role holder resigns / is appointed to another role in UCL, the role must be advertised as soon as possible, in accordance with the Recruitment and Selection Procedure.   The secondee will return to their substantive role early if they are not appointed to the job on an open-ended basis.

8. The opportunity also allows the secondee to broaden their experience and develop skills while retaining the right to return to their substantive post at the end of the secondment. The acquisition of additional knowledge and experience may add to the skills base of the seconding department.

Advertising an internal secondment

9. Internal secondments are advertised on the UCL jobs webpage.  To advertise a secondment, obtain financial approval and submit the vacancy for advertising on Talentlink. The vacancy should be advertised to redeployees and internal applicants. If the job is a new or substantially changed professional services role it should be graded by an HR Business Partner

Waiver of advertising

10. Where there are extenuating and / or exceptional circumstances, the relevant Head of Human Resources will consider any requests from the relevant Dean or Head of Division to waive the advertising of a particular secondment post. 

11. Such requests should be made by directing a case to the relevant HR Business Partner who will record the request for monitoring purposes before forwarding it to the relevant Head of Human Resources, for consideration. 

12. In making a request, the Dean or Head of Division is required to evidence the reasons why they consider such a waiver is appropriate. This could include that there are no suitable redeployees (the relevant HR Business Partner will be able to assist) and delaying the appointment to the secondment would have a detrimental impact on UCL’s strategic objectives. 

13. If the waiver request is refused, this Internal Secondment Guidance shall continue to apply.  If the waiver request is approved, only relevant sections of this Internal Secondment Guidance shall continue to apply (for example, excluding those relating to advertisement, application and selection).  

14. If the waiver request is approved, as the usual online recruitment process will not be used for advertising purposes, the successful candidate’s details should be submitted through Departmental Transactions in MyHR.

Applying for a secondment

15. Redeployees who wish to apply for a secondment opportunity that is at the same grade or lower than their current grade should apply for the vacancy through the Redeployment jobs site, so the application is submitted using the application form for Redeployees.  If they demonstrate in their application that they meet the essential criteria for the role (or could do so with reasonable training) they will be interviewed alongside other internal applicants. If the redeployee is appointable following interview, they will be appointed ahead of other candidates, on a fixed-term contract.  A trial period of four weeks will apply.  Redeployees who apply for a secondment opportunity at a higher grade should apply through the UCL jobs webpage and not indicate that they are a redeployee as they will not be given priority status. 

16. Prior to the end of the fixed-term contract the former redeployee will be given notice and access to redeployment vacancies again.   If redeployment is not found and the redeployee leaves UCL due to redundancy, a redundancy payment based on full continuity of service will be payable.  If the redeployee leaves due to SOSR because a substantive role holder has returned, they will have forfeited any redundancy payment (see para. 7 of Redeployment Procedure).

17. Other staff wishing to apply for a secondment must discuss this with their existing line manager before applying. The line manager can then consider whether the employee can be released for the secondment and how the employee’s existing role could be covered during the secondment. Part time secondments should be considered.   A member of staff will normally have completed their probation period prior to being permitted to apply for secondment opportunities.

18. Managers may consider acting-up arrangements or an additional secondment to cover the secondee’s substantive role, subject to the normal approval process.  

19. If the line manager is unable to agree to the secondment they 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 post holder 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. If a manager declines to support a full time secondment for this reason, part time secondments may be explored as an option.   

20.  Applicants must indicate in their application form whether their line manager supports their application.  If they are not supported, the recruiting manager will not process the application.   

Selecting people for internal secondments

21. The appointed candidate should be selected based on the Person Specification, as defined in the Job Description for the role, in line with the guidance given in the Recruitment and Selection Policy

22. Line managers are expected to take action on equality and diversity initiatives.  Where it can be demonstrated that there are two or more appointable candidates, preference should be given to appointing the candidate whose protected characteristic is under-represented within the department.   

23. After interview, the recruiting manager may make a conditional offer, subject to the necessary checks. They will request a reference from the employee’s line manager, ensure that there are no restrictions on their right-to-work in the role and, if required, obtain a DBS check.

24. A secondee will normally commence their secondment as soon as possible and on a date mutually agreed between the respective line managers.   If the secondee cannot be released soon enough to meet the need of the secondment, the recruiting manager may appoint their second preferred candidate.

Formalising the Secondment

25. The following steps must be taken to arrange the secondment:

26. The Recruiter must progress the application of the appointed candidate within Talentlink

27. HR Services will issue a letter setting out the terms – grade, salary and duration of the secondment – as well as the secondees right to return to their substantive role.

Induction and developmental planning

28. Secondees must be suitably inducted into the role and managers will establish agreed developmental goals with the secondee and the substantive line manager.  It is important that a secondee’s performance is managed.  If a secondee’s line manager is not satisfied with their performance (following support and training, or reasonable adjustments), they may end the secondment early (see below, Ending a secondment). 

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

30. If agreed by all parties, the secondment may be extended up-to 6 months without advertising, as long as the role has not become permanent. For example, the secondment could be extended if there is an extension to maternity leave or if a project overruns.

Ending a secondment

31. Exceptionally, if the secondee requests this, or if there is a business need, or if the secondee is underperforming in the role, the manager may consider an early termination of the secondment arrangement. They should discuss this with the secondee and raise this with the HR Business Partner in the first instance. If it is agreed to bring the secondment to an end, they should then discuss this prospect with the secondee’s substantive line manager so that they can make arrangements for the secondee to return to their substantive role. The manager will need to give at least one week’s formal notice of the ending of the arrangement to the secondee.    

32. If a secondment becomes an open ended (permanent) role, then the following process applies:

   a.    A former redeployee who has been in a secondment role as an alternative to leaving UCL, should be confirmed in post subject to the trial period having been completed successfully. 

   b.    In all other cases, the manager will need to advertise the role to current redeployees only, for 5 working days, and the recruitment policy as it applies to redeployees would be followed. 

   c.    If no suitable redeployee is found and appointed, the manager may first offer the role to the secondee (subject to a confirmatory interview) if they have been in post for 12 months or more.  

   d.    If the secondee has not been in post for 12 months, or is not offered the role (as per ‘c’), or declines the offer, the manager should then advertise the post more widely, in accordance with the Recruitment Policy. The secondee would then return to their substantive role.  

Last updated January 2023