What is Secondment?
A secondment is a temporary assignment of an employee to a new position, either within their current organization or with another organization. The secondment may be open-ended or for a set duration, such as six months or a year. The act of being seconded does not result in the creation of a new employment contract. At the end of the secondment period, the employee goes back to the previous employer.
In situations where an employee has been seconded, the company that seconds the employee—and not the company to which the employee is seconded—remains the employer at all relevant times. In accordance with the terms of the employment contract, the employer is obligated to pay the seconded employee’s salary and other benefits during the secondment. During the duration of the secondment, the person on secondment is required to work for and show loyalty to the employer, in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Employees who are transferred to a different department within the same business are said to be on internal secondments. When an employee is transferred to another company, they may be given the chance to learn more about how that company runs or to perform other tasks. This is known as an external secondment. Although secondments are typically internal, they can also be external for employees, usually in offices with partnerships.
If an employee is being transferred to another role in the company, an employer should agree on a fixed period of time for the secondment from the initial proposition. In contrast to promotions, secondments involve a brief transition from one position to another. Promotions typically involve moving an employee from their current position as a line manager to a higher one. Promotions and secondments both have the potential to result in monetary raises or bonuses, though secondments are less likely to do so.
An employee’s employment contract cannot be changed to include a transfer to another position or forced to accept a role on secondment by their employer. The employer must exercise reasonable judgment and care in enforcing the terms of any clause in the employee’s contract that permits flexibility or mobility in order to avoid violating the terms of engagement. If this happens, the employee can claim a contract breach.
It is expected that an employee will have their primary position when their secondment is over, with their primary contract coexisting with their secondment contract. The employer is also prohibited from terminating the initial contract and is not permitted to fill the employee’s position before they are placed on secondment.
Benefits of Secondment
1. For the Individual
- Develop new skills, knowledge, and experiences
- Strengthen current skills by applying them in a new area
- Develop a greater understanding of the company
- Gain up-to-date knowledge of current working practices in other areas
- Expand horizons to support career development
- Establish networks with colleagues
- Create a visible personal profile within the department, division and establish key contacts with senior managers and leaders
- Achieve development objectives in a time-limited period
- Increase opportunities for career development and progression
2. For the Company
- Development of a more informed, skilled, and flexible workforce
- Retention of talented employees and the skills, knowledge, and experiences they possess
- Enable improved knowledge sharing, communication, and understanding between departments across the company
- Improved process and service delivery derived from sharing and learning from departments with differing outlooks and perspectives
- Enhanced employee morale, motivation, and commitment
- Promoting equality of opportunity for all staff
In conclusion, there is no specific law in Kenya that governs an employee’s secondment employment; instead, a contract or secondment agreement serves as the foundation of the relationship. To address important issues like the roles and responsibilities of the secondee employee, compensation, termination, consequences of termination, etc., businesses and organizations prefer to execute a contractual arrangement with detailed terms and conditions of the secondment.
- REV. JOHN MUGANIA VERSUS KENYA METHODIST UNIVERSITY & PROF. MUTUMA MUGAMBI, Cause No.133 of 201
- Samuel Ngovu & 11 others v Tana & Athi River Development Authority & another  eKLR
- Methodist University v Kaungania & another (Civil Appeal 61 of 2017)
- Mary Nyangasi Ratemo & 9 others v Kenya Police Staff Sacco Limited & another  eKLR
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