A secondment can be described as:

  • The temporary loan of an employee from one organisation, or one part of an organisation, to another, for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. Secondments are a business critical contractual arrangement with the aim of bringing benefits to the University.
  • Under a secondment, an individual is doing work for the host organisation, under their instruction and for their purposes. This differentiates a secondment from a 'business trip'

There are 3 types of secondment which the University normally operates:

  1. External
    A University of Exeter employee remains under contract to the University but is based in another, external organisation for a defined period of time. The employee retains all existing University of Exeter terms and conditions, including continuous service, employment policies and existing pay and pension arrangements. The conditions of the secondment however may add terms and conditions over and above those of the University of Exeter. External secondments are most commonly undertaken by College staff.
  2. Internal
    A University of Exeter employee is temporarily working for another College, Service or in another role within their substantive College or Service for a short-term, defined period of time with a view to returning to their substantive post at the end of the period. The terms and conditions may temporarily change for the duration of the secondment and the individual would automatically revert back to their substantive terms and conditions at the end of the secondment. Internal secondments are most commonly undertaken by Professional Services staff, but can be undertaken by College staff.
  3. Incoming
    An employee of an external organisation (such as the NHS or another university) who is temporarily carrying out a specific role in the University of Exeter whilst maintaining their contract with their substantive employer for a defined period of time, at the end of which they return to their substantive employer. The individual is not eligible for University of Exeter terms and conditions, but may be subject to University of Exeter practices related to health and safety etc.

Terms used in this guidance


The individual who is being seconded


The organisation or Service/College who is receiving the secondee

Substantive employer

The external organisation who is donating the secondee

Substantive post

The original and underlying post that an individual is employed to do