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International Secondments cross-border considerations

A secondment can be described as a temporary assignment of an employee (‘secondee’) from one organisation (‘seconder’) to another entity (‘host’) for any period of time depending on business need. There are various forms of secondment, from domestic to overseas, internally within a company, and even between two unrelated business entities. There is no traditional structure of a secondment, and the form undertaken will depend on what works best for all parties involved.

Why enter into a secondment?

There are many advantages to undertaking a secondment. First of all, secondees themselves are able to expand their current professional network, which in turn would support their career development, whilst possibly developing skills in a new area of expertise. Furthermore, host organisations are able to obtain new diverse talent, and manage short-term staffing levels. Finally, the seconder typically receives a commercial benefit, as they traditionally pay for the secondee’s salary at a premium to the seconder. 

International Secondments - Into the UK

There are UK-based statutory rights for secondees who are entering the UK from overseas that cannot be superseded by employment contracts administered from other jurisdictions. Examples of these rights include (but are not limited to):

  • Discrimination protection. This includes protection based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity status, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Entitlement to the National Minimum Wage, Workplace Pension schemes and Statutory Sick Pay.
  • Holiday entitlement of at least 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year.
  • Protection from unfair dismissal in certain circumstances.

International Secondments: Out of the UK

When a secondee is transferred from the UK to overseas, it is important for employers to keep in mind that where there are local mandatory employment provisions, these cannot be overridden by any contractual agreement. This applies even if the secondee's employment contract contains an express choice of law clause that allows the employer to specify which law they wish to apply. Employers should consider the implications of these situations on a case-by-case basis.

For further guidance please click here for the full International Secondments Brochure covering employment law, immigration, and tax implications for the employer.

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