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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
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Hi I am currently on secondment to another organisation

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I am currently on secondment to another organisation and am due to return early next year. Terms of the contract are that I will return 'on the same terms of employment as before the secondment.'

Since leaving my team has been split - there were 5 of us in the same role but divided with two of us being policy focused and 3 liaison. I went on secondment, and post split 1 stayed within policy and 3 were moved to another team (1 of which then went on long term sick). When the split occured I was informed and told that for ease I would stay with my line manager (who went with the 3) but had I not been on secondment I'd have probably stayed within policy. Due to resource needs and being unable to fill the position of the person on sick leave they took my empty position and got someone seconded into it until I return.

Since then another move has occured I have a new line manager and the role they are offering me has no relationship to the previous work that I did. I have only had verbal communication of this and I am yet to see a job spec. Due to further resource needs they are asking me to confirm whether or not I will return to that role at the end of my secondment - they would prefer it if I said no so that they could fill my role now. Ideally I would like something more aligned with my previous role and experience gained during the secondment year but if they don't have to offer me an alternative I am also not going to put myself out of a job. Additionally they've not explained what the consequences are of me saying I won't return to that role and whether I would effectively be resigning.

I am due to have a meeting with my new line manager and HR and would like some guidence on what I should expect, my rights and also what I need to get them to confirm before I make a decision.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Whilst the secondment terms guaranteed you a position on the same terms and conditions when you returned, that would only be possible if the position which you held still existed on your return. Unfortunately business needs may dictate that the employer's structure changes from time to time and often that can be impossible to avoid, at least to some extent.


So if you have such a guarantee but the position you held is no longer available for you to return to, the most likely scenario is that this would amount to a redundancy situation. In that case you can expect your employer to try and offer you a suitable alternative position, something which you would consider suitable to do as an alternative in the circumstances in order to try and avoid redundancy. If no such position exists, you cannot really be forced to return to any job and if that is the case your employer needs to consider making you redundant.


I therefore suggest you discuss with them in detail what your options are and what the potential outcome is if you take to follow a specific route, for example raise the redundancy issue if you find that there is nothing suitable for you to do.

Customer: Should I point out that had I not gone on secondment I would never have been split out to the team that they are now trying to ask me to return to? I have no experience in the role that they're asking me to undertake. If I were to say now that I don't want to return to that role will they still have to consider making me redundant or would I be resigning?
Ben Jones :

you can raise this but it would not change what has already happened and what may happen next. Your argument would be that the job you were guaranteed a return to no longer exists, which is a potential redundancy situation and as the employer has not been able to offer you a suitable alternative position for you to take up, you can refuse to accept anything unsuitable and opt for redundancy instead.

Customer: Thank you
Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service I have provided you with as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and all the best

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