Ask The HR Expert: Employee issues with secondments

Peninsula Team

March 23 2012

I have an employee complaining that his secondment isn’t working for him, and wants to move departments earlier than originally agreed, what can I do about this? Secondments, whereby an employee is temporarily assigned to work in a different department in a business, or within the same department but in a different role, are becoming more and more commonly used. They are frequently used to fill a gap where the original job holder is out of operation for a while, where a new business idea is being trialled, or where an employee wants to gain more experience of a role which is different to theirs. There is no legislation which surrounds the concept of secondments so the terms and conditions of the secondment are all down to agreement between the employee and his employer. These should be set out in a secondment agreement which is agreed at the outset of the secondment period. The agreement should contain the procedure to be followed in all eventualities therefore you should look to the secondment agreement that was put in place in relation to this employee to determine how you deal with this current situation. If the agreement is silent on this issue, or if there is no agreement, then you need to speak to the employee informally to find out why he thinks the secondment isn’t working for him. Consider how well you have been communicating with him during the secondment. He may just be suffering from a crisis of confidence which could be easily remedied by a few encouraging words from you to the effect that you think he is doing a good job. If is performance is faltering slightly, then look at ways to bring it to the required standard. Is there any further training he should complete? Or does he simply require closer supervision? As always, it is advisable to be sure that there are no underlying issues for the employee’s discontent and you should try to ascertain if it is his new working relationships that are causing him concern, being sure to rule out any bullying issues, for example. You also need to consider your operational requirements. It may be that you have temporarily assigned someone else to cover this employee’s role while he is on secondment and an early end to it would cause more problems for you. If this is the case, explain to the employee that you wish for him to stay in his secondment for the intended period and that together you should be able to find a way to do this. For any further information regarding secondment issues, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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