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Secondments & deputising

In this article we'll try to answer some of the common questions we get asked about secondments and deputising.

About secondments

A secondment is usually a temporary vacancy, most often back-filling for another colleague on an extended period of leave, and therefore are usually time limited with a defined end date. They are also often used for projects that are needed for defined periods of time.

Here's some other things you need to know about secondments:

  • A secondment should be at least 6 months in length, and usually not more than 12 months. Where a secondment is for more than 12 months, consideration should be made as to whether a permanent position is required.
  • They are advertised alongside permanent roles, and available for everyone to apply for.
  • You should discuss the secondment opportunity with your manager and obtain their support before applying. Secondments should be supported, but this could be declined if there is a strong business reason. It's therefore best to gain this support to avoid disappointment or frustration later in the process.
  • Your salary and benefits should reflect that of the grade of the seconded role.
  • At the end of the secondment, you return to your original role.
  • In some circumstances secondments can be to external organisations.
  • Secondments can be ended early. This is usually when there has been a business restructure resulting in an impact on the availability of roles, or where there are significant issues identified with performance which additional support has failed to resolve.

Secondments & redundancy

Sometimes secondments are offered as an alternative to redundancy. Accepting a secondment gives you a longer period of time to find a suitable alternative and permanent role, but if you're unable to secure another role you will still be made redundant at the end of the secondment period.

About deputising

Deputising may be applicable where you take on significant accountability and responsibility, which would normally be performed by a more senior colleague, for a period of at least a month. This is often to cover shorter-term absences or staffing gaps.

Things you might want to know about deputising:

  • The increase in responsibility should be for a sustained period of at least 1 month, but up to a maximum of 6 months.
  • If there is a requirement for deputising for longer than 6 months, a secondment should be considered instead.
  • Your contractual role, salary and benefits do not change when you're deputising.
  • A temporary deputising payment is usually payable which will appear separately on your payslip.
  • Deputising doesn't mean you take on all of the responsibilities of the more senior colleague.

Additional responsibility but not deputising

Sometimes the business may ask you, or you may ask them, to undertake additional activities outside the normal scope of your role. You would not normally be entitled to any additional payment as a result of this unless there is a significant uplift in your responsibilities, and this will continue for a more significant period of time. 

Any requests from the business should not be unreasonable, and you should not be forced to take on additional responsibility that you don't feel comfortable or competent to perform.

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