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  • Posted Monday April 16, 2018

HR Case File – Managing a first-rate secondment

What happens when you think a secondment would be the best way forward for your practice but you’re not sure quite where to start? No one said dealing with HR issues would be easy…

Thankfully, FPM’s HR expert Lisa Wainwright is here to help. The latest in our series of handy case studies explains what actions to take if you find yourself in this situation.

 

A secondment is an arrangement whereby an employee is temporarily assigned to work for a different part of the business, or within a different organisation (either within or outside the group). There are many benefits of a secondment for both the organisation and the employee: 

 

  • They can provide cover for ongoing family leave or sickness absence, or in relation to a specific project
  • They can enable employees to gain experience in a specific area or to build on existing skills and knowledge
  • They can avoid redundancies by temporarily reassigning employees to busier parts of the organisation
  • They can save time and money in carrying out an external recruitment process

 

Recruiting

As a starting point, you need to ensure the seconded role is advertised and recruited fairly to reduce the risk of resentment and allegations of unfairness and/or discrimination by unsuccessful applicants.

When advertising and recruiting into a secondment, be careful to avoid making assumptions about potential secondees and their suitability during the selection process. For example, excluding part-time workers risks disadvantaging working mothers and could amount to indirect sex discrimination.

In certain circumstances, it may be prudent for the employer to operate a formal application and selection process, particularly if the secondment is a means of avoiding redundancy. 

Contract

Once you’ve selected the secondee and they have accepted, issue them with a letter confirming changes to any of the terms and conditions of employment (such as salary, job title and place of work). This must be done within one month.

End date

Secondments are normally for fixed periods, but if there is to be no set end-date it is advisable for the employer to factor in regular reviews or adopt successive fixed periods. You then have the opportunity to review the arrangement and this should help to avoid any confusion or surprises further down the line.

Normally, the secondment arrangement will end at a pre-determined point and the secondee will return to their original role. However, termination of a secondment arrangement can throw up issues around workforce planning, particularly if the secondment ends early. You should bear this in mind when considering how best to backfill the secondee’s substantive post.
 

Backfill

You also need to consider how you will backfill the secondee’s role. You can consider:

  • Spreading the work among existing employees
  • Seconding another member of staff to cover the first secondee
  • Appointing externally on a fixed term contract


Careful consideration should be given to how you will manage the backfill if the secondment ends early.


Are you dealing with a tricky HR issue? First Practice Management members can contact Lisa for support with their queries via our email helpline at 
hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk


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