Rights after over five years on secondment

I have been on an internal secondment for more than five years. I was appointed following a competitive assessment process. The term was originally for a year and has been extended several times. During this time the post has been advertised and I have been interviewed three times but was told I didn’t score highly enough so have never been made permanent. My secondment is due to end in March, mainly due to budget pressures, and I have been told I will have to return to my substantive post which is on a lower grade. I feel this is unfair.

I have worked and been appraised at the higher level and I have not been informed there are any development issues. I am just wondering what rights I have if any.

 

Secondments, by their very nature, show that both employee and employer intend for the individual to return to their substantive role at the end of the secondment. It’s unclear why you have continued in this role for so long and been told at appraisals that there were no development issues, but have been unsuccessful in the formal interviews for the permanent role. If you believe there was anything untoward in the way you were not successful or were treated, you should take legal advice.

Fixed-term contracts which are continuous for four years or more can result in the individual being treated as a permanent employee, unless the business can show good reason for not doing so. Fixed-term contracts and secondments are different ordinarily because the secondment is a temporary variation of contract. You should check the secondment paperwork in case it has been treated as a fixed-term contract. If it is a fixed-term contract, then you could argue that, because of the duration, it was a variation of your contract and you should be treated as if the secondment role is in fact your substantive role.

If you opt for voluntary redundancy, it is likely that the redundancy package will be based on your substantive role. You could ask the business to treat it, however, as being made in relation to your secondment role and try to negotiate an enhanced package by reminding them of your loyalty and service with the organisation.



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