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Personal and Professional Development


Q. What is a secondment?

  • The term 'secondment' refers to the temporary movement or 'loan' of an employee to another part of an organisation (CIPD Factsheet 2011).
  • A secondment is usually when an employee either joins another department or institution within their own organisation for a specified period of time and carries out work required for operational or project purposes.
  • Secondments can be part time or full-time, may last for a few weeks or up to one year and may arise for a variety of reasons e.g. covering a period of leave.

Q. What will I gain from carrying out a secondment?

  • A secondment is a great opportunity to gain new experiences and knowledge and to develop and enhance your skills in a variety of ways.
  • By carrying out a secondment, you will be able to take back valuable new skills to your current department, fulfil your development objectives and progress your career aspirations.
  • See Case Studies sections for more information.

Q. What is a secondee?

The person who is being seconded from their substantive post to a different role in another department or institution.

Q. What is a substantive post?

The original and underlying role that an individual is employed to do. The post is kept open for them to return to at the end of the secondment.

Q. What is a host department?

The department or institution to which the individual is seconded to.

Q. What is a home department?

The location of the secondee's substantive post.

Q. How long will a secondment last?

  • The duration of a secondment needs to be flexible depending upon the source or type of secondment.
  • Whilst there is sometimes a minimum period needed to gain understanding and make an effective contribution (eg 3 - 6 months), the maximum period of secondment is normally up to 12 months.
  • Longer than this period can have an impact on the return to the substantive post - however if managed well, it can provide a good opportunity.
  • Ideally the length of secondment needs to be determined at the outset and if there are any changes to the duration, these need to be agreed with all parties as soon as possible and such that there is sufficient notice given for the ending of the secondment.

Q. How will the secondment be funded?

It is anticipated that secondments will be self-financing as funding will already exist for the seconded role to be carried out (e.g. maternity cover funds, project funds, non-recurrent monies).

Q. Will my terms and conditions of employment change if I am seconded to another role within the University?

  • In the first instance, please refer to your line manager in the 'host' department for guidance on terms and conditions relating to your secondment.
  • For further information contact your School HR Business Manager/Adviser.

Q. Am I entitled to return to my substantive post at the end of the secondment?

  • Yes - this is always the case with a secondment opportunity, which is why it is essential to liaise with your 'home' line manager at the earliest opportunity.
  • Your entitlement to return to your substantive post should be stated in the secondment agreement which is signed by your home department as well as your host department and yourself.

Q. I currently work part time, am I still entitled to a secondment?

  • Yes, some secondments are advertised as part time.
  • If they are advertised as full time, you could approach the department to ask whether they would consider an application for a part time or job share secondment.

Q. I do not work for the University of Cambridge, am I still able to apply for a secondment?

  • Eligibility is limited to university staff only.
  • If you are interested in current job opportunities please visit

Q. What is the secondment mailing list and how can I join it?

  • The secondment mailing list is comprised of administrative staff who have expressed an interest in finding out about administrative secondment opportunities as they arise.
  • Subscribe to the secondment mailing list

Q. What are part-time secondments?

  • A part-time secondment occurs when your home department line manager has agreed that you can be seconded to a host department for part of your normal working hours.
  • For example, if an individual whose working hours are normally 5 days per week is seconded to a host department for 3 days per week this would constitute a part-time secondment.

Q. Is the recruitment and selection process for secondments the same as for a standard vacancy?

The process is very similar. However, please refer to the Recruitment section for more information.

Q. Will the staff review and development process be carried out with a secondee?

  • No, however the secondee will need to receive line manager support and guidance from the 'host' deparment throughout the secondment, particularly in the first few weeks/months.
  • The secondment will also need to be reviewed on a regular basis in consultation with the secondee.
  • We encourage the mid and end secondment reviews to include the secondee, the 'host' line manager and the 'home' line manager as appropriate.

Q. What process should a department follow in order to offer a secondment opportunity?

Please refer to the Recruitment and Managing a secondment sections for more information.