Secondment: How Employees can Maximize its Opportunities and Navigate Challenges


The need for organizations to recruit and engage qualified professionals without going through the recruitment process has made the secondment of employees a viable alternative for corporate organizations. This concept is also known as job rotation, and it has been found to be one of the easiest ways for an employee to gain diverse work experience without changing jobs. In some cases, secondment also occurs within an organization, in which case the employee is seconded to another unit or subsidiary of the same organization. This article contains an employee guide on secondment and you can maximize the opportunity.

Meaning of Secondment

It is important to note that the word secondment is derived from the Latin word “secundare,” which means “to assist.” Secondment is a mechanism through which an employee in an organization is temporarily assigned to a new position within the same organization, or in another organization. One of the unique features of secondment is that the employee is deemed as a staff of the seconding organization. The contract of employment with the employer still subsists and he also receives salary and other remuneration packages from the organization, even though he resumes in the host organization.

In a bid to bring perspective to the content below, there are three parties to a secondment agreement. These are the employer, also known as the releasing organization, the employee and the host organization.

Types of secondment

There are several ways in which a secondment arrangement could work and it will be considered in this section. John, a Legal practitioner works with Grey Solicitors as a Junior Counsel and his firm has been contacted by one of the clients in the Oil and Gas industry second an associate for a period of 6 months to work on a project. This is known as an external secondment.

Smith works in a commercial bank, Vixen International Bank, as a Compliance Officer. There is a vacancy in the Legal department and the management of the Bank has decided to second Smith to the department because his resume showed that he is a qualified legal practitioner. This is an example of an internal secondment because it occurs majorly within the same organization.

In some cases, the time the seconded employee is meant to work in the host organization or new position could also determine the type of secondment. In a short-term secondment, the secondee is assigned to work for a short period of time, usually to work on a specific project. After the project, the employee returns to his original organization. However, in a long-term secondment, the secondee is assigned to work in the host organization for a relatively long period which could be up to a year or more. It is worth mentioning that regardless of the length of time, the secondee is considered a staff of his employer for all intents and purposes.

Benefits and opportunities for employees

Although, secondees hardly get a salary increase or other perks based on the arrangement, here are several opportunities and benefits an employee could derive from it. Some employees have also used the opportunity to chart a new career path for themselves.

1. Professional growth and skill development

Exposure to a new work environment and culture is one of the benefits an employee will receive during the period. The opportunity to access new training materials and challenges will also go a long way to enhance a secondee’s career growth and skill development, both technical and soft skills.

2. Expanding knowledge and experiences

One of the qualities of a thorough-bred professional is the bulk of experience he has been able to gather over the years. Seconding in a different organization is an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of different work experiences without switching from one organization to the other.

3. Building a diverse network

One of the major employability skills across the world is the ability to build and sustain quality networks. Secondment is one of the best opportunities for an employee to gain access to a new set of colleagues, leaders, and followers which will add to his network base.

4. Exploring new career paths

Secondment is one of the best bets for an employee who intends to explore new career paths in a large organization. The employee could join a new department or a new team within the same department to learn in the new field without necessarily changing jobs.


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Practical tips to maximize the secondment experience

All the benefits that have been mentioned earlier will make no meaning to a secondee who fails to maximize the experience while it lasts. These are some of the strategies a secondee can put in place in order to get the best of the experience.

1. Setting personal goals and objectives

This should include your learning, communication, and networking goals among others. Setting personal goals will ensure that you have a target to work with and you will also be able to review your progress at intervals.

2. Embracing new experiences and learning opportunities

The period will open new experiences and learning opportunities as the employee will be in a new role, either in the same or in a different organization. The best approach is to embrace the learning opportunities and maximize them as much as possible. Ask questions when you need to, take notes on new concepts and check the meaning, be open-minded to learn new software and work tools.

3. Reflecting on achievements and lessons learned

Reflection is one of the ways you measure your success and evaluate your weakness. You needn’t wait till the end of the exercise before you reflect on all that has transpired. You can seek the opinion of your new colleagues or supervisor to know what you are doing well and how to develop yourself.

The Nigerian Legal Perspective on Secondment

The Court of Appeal held in Dalhatu V. AG Katsina State & Ors[1] that, “To be on secondment is to be sent to another department or office of government in order to do or carry out a different job for a short period.”

Similarly, in the case of U.B.A PLC & ANOR v. DUNMOYE[2] the Court stated that “The word “secondment” as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary 10th edition page 1555 means: “A period of time that a worker spends away from his or her usual job usually either doing another job or studying.” The word “Transfer” on the other hand is defined by Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 6th Edition at page 1273 to mean: “Change of Place/Job/Situation, the act of moving somebody/something from place, group or job to another.” Thus, while secondment is envisaged to be for a short, and temporary tenure, transfer envisages complete separation from the employer.”

Although there is no strict legislative provision regulating the practice of secondment in Nigeria, the parties usually follow the secondment agreement put in place at the point of entering into the contract. In the event that there is a conflict between the parties, the courts, especially the National Industrial Court will not hesitate to adjudicate on the matter and give a well-deserved verdict.


The article has explored the meaning, types, benefits and how to maximize a secondment opportunity. Although, it is not available in all organizations, if you are opportune, do not hesitate to jump on the opportunity and make the best of it. Lastly, do not forget that the benefits you will derive from a secondment arrangement are strictly based on the steps you take to maximize the opportunity.

We wish you a fruitful career journey!!!

[1] Per Olukayode Ariwoola, JCA (Pp 40 – 40 Paras B – C)

[2] (2017) LPELR-50106(CA)

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