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Everything you ever wanted to know about secondment

Every year, more and more companies opt for secondment. Secondment can be very beneficial to organisations, because it allows companies to solve staff shortages or put the right expertise in the right place on a temporary basis. Should you want to know more about the practical side of secondment or have any questions, we have set out the most important information about it for you below. This blog post provides answers to all the main questions about secondment, for employers and employees alike.

What is secondment?

By definition, secondment is the temporary transfer of an employee to a third party. In practice, secondment means that a company hires in staff through a secondment agency. This is temporary, but these can often be long-term agreements too. From a formal point of view, the company is not the seconded employee’s employer; the secondment agency is. Secondment is ideal whenever there’s a short term need for one or more specialists, for example, to increase capacity during a busy month or so that work can continue while an in-house specialist is temporarily unavailable. Whatever the reason, secondment allows a company or organisation to deploy trained employees at need, quickly and easily.

What is a secondment agency?

A secondment agency is an agency that employs employees who are then assigned to third-party companies. Those companies pay the secondment agency an hourly rate for the employees they hire in. The secondment agency is the formal employer of the temporary employee, and therefore bears the employer’s liability in the case of dismissal, illness and so forth. When a company hires employees through a secondment agency, it does not have to worry about ongoing salary payments to hired employees should they fall ill, or severance payments should they be laid off. It’s the secondment agency which takes care of that.

What is the maximum duration of a secondment?

When a company opts for secondment, the length of the secondee’s deployment is agreed with the secondment agency. There is no maximum duration for this. The secondee then signs a contract with the secondment agency, who remains their employer. This can be a fixed-term, open-ended or project-based contract. If an independent entrepreneur or freelancer works on secondment projects, they are usually given project-based contracts, which require them to track and invoice the hours they work. However, there is a maximum duration for this arrangement because a secondee may only be given a maximum of three temporary contracts within a three-year period (Dutch Labour Market in Balance Act or WAB).

Which sectors use secondment?

The full range of industries and sectors use secondment, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, many secondment agencies concentrate on specific sectors, like healthcare, ICT or marketing.

In the healthcare sector, for example, healthcare staff are often required for part-time assignments. Secondment allows a seconded worker to be hired part-time at various institutions and still have a full-time contract from the secondment agency. An extra pair of hands is sometimes needed in order to execute a large project in the ICT sector. In such a case, a temporary, additional employee can provide a solution. Every sector has specific problems and needs that can be solved by secondment.

Why choose secondment as a client?

There are several reasons for companies to choose secondment. For example, a company may need additional staff because it has a large project planned. Or because it’s a busy period. Secondment is sometimes also used to replace employees temporarily, because, for example, an employee is on long-term sick leave, has left on a world tour or has taken maternity leave. On other occasions, a company may find it helpful have someone come in on a short term basis to take a fresh look at certain processes. For example, some companies choose to hire in a manager for restructuring. If a company or a team lacks particular knowledge, secondment is often the chosen solution too.

Why not just hire someone?

In many cases, it’s too expensive or simply unnecessary to take someone on full-time, but it is extremely useful for a company to have additional staff temporarily. And it is especially good to bring in someone who does not require lengthy training, and who is already experienced at a particular job. That is why many secondment agencies focus on particular markets; some are specialised in lending out IT professionals, while others have lots of marketers or graphic designers on their books.

Secondment is therefore a convenient way for companies to get qualified employees working for them at short notice. Depending on who the secondment agency has on its books, a company can choose between different levels of experience. This means that the employees they hire in are quickly operational. An experienced secondee has no problems adapting to new environments. And as mentioned above, the company does not bear the employer’s liability. Furthermore, the company remains able to respond to rapidly changing circumstances at need, because the secondee’s contract can be terminated at a month’s notice. If the employee proves unsuitable, they can also be replaced. This means that companies that choose secondment have exceptional flexibility.

Why choose secondment as an employee?

Many employees deliberately choose to work on a secondment basis. It gives them the security of a contract, while they gain a lot of experience at different companies. Seconded workers also learn to adapt to different circumstances quickly . This can be positive for their CVs. Many workers find this extremely satisfactory at the start of their careers. It allows the secondee to get a clearer image of various jobs. If they subsequently decide to switch to a job at one company, they generally have a better idea of what they do and do not want to do.
But it’s not only young people who work on a secondment basis. There are also many specialists with years of experience who enjoy taking up new challenges every few months.
What is ‘secondment to a future employer’?

‘Deta-vast’ is a Dutch term used to describe a special type of secondment agreement; this agreement stipulates that the secondee may be taken on by the company after they have worked a certain number hours for it, providing their work proves satisfactory. The most common length of time is 1,040 hours. Some companies prefer this type of ‘secondment to a future employer’ contract, because at the outset the employer’s liability rests with the secondment agency, but if the employee proves to be a good fit, they can be taken on at no extra cost. The company then becomes the former secondee’s employer.

Making secondment easier on a practical level with TimeChimp

It’s often useful to keep records of a secondee’s hours. For example, if the secondee is a freelancer, they must report the hours they’ve worked to the secondment agency. Even when working with a contract for secondment to a future employer, hours need to be tracked so that contracts can be changed after a certain amount of time. You can read all about the importance of time management in the blog post: How can you use time management software to measure performance in secondment?

Looking for a way to track time during secondment? Then request a free, 14-day TimeChimp trial. No payment details required.

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