Call Now
  1. Home
  2. Guides
  3. Other employment relations
  4. Employee transfer policy

Employee Transfer Policy

Published March 14, 2024 | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Running a small or medium-sized business in New Zealand means juggling employment laws, keeping your team happy and driving business growth. That's where a clear and well-structured employee transfer policy comes in – a guide to navigate those internal relocations and keep everyone informed, engaged and productive. 

This article explores an internal transfer policy, why you need one, and how to implement one into your business.  

What is an employee transfer policy? 

In simple terms, it's a roadmap for moving employees within your company. Think of it as a set of guidelines outlining the process, responsibilities and expectations for you and your team when internal opportunities arise.  

Regardless of how you transfer employees — a lateral move to a new department, a promotion up the ladder or a relocation based on business needs — a solid transfer policy ensures things run smoothly and everyone feels supported throughout the transition. 

What are the types of internal employee transfers? 

Companies transfer employees internally within their organisation in various ways. Each serving different purposes. Here's a breakdown of the common types of internal transfers: 

Lateral transfer 

A lateral transfer involves moving an employee to a different role at the same organisational level. The change typically occurs within the same department or team. 

Purpose: Lateral transfers are often used to capitalise on an employee's existing skills and experience while providing them with a new set of responsibilities. 

Promotion transfer 

A promotion transfer involves moving an employee to a higher position within the organisation. This may entail a change in job title, increased responsibilities and often a salary adjustment. 

Purpose: Promotion transfers recognise and reward high-performing employees, encouraging a culture of meritocracy. 

Departmental transfer 

A department transfer occurs when an employee moves from one department to another, often involving a change in job function and reporting structure. 

Purpose: Departmental transfers facilitate cross-functional collaboration, allowing employees to gain a broader understanding of the business’s operations. 

Geographical transfer 

Geographical transfers involve relocating an employee to a different location within the same country or internationally. This could be prompted by organisational expansion or the need for specific expertise in a different region. 

Purpose: Geographical transfers support organisational growth by leveraging talent across diverse locations. This can provide employees with exposure to different work environments and cultures. 

Temporary or project transfer 

Employees may be temporarily transferred to another department or team to work on a specific project or address a temporary staffing need. 

Purpose: Temporary transfers allow businesses to deploy expertise where needed most, enhancing project outcomes. 

What are the benefits of an employee transfer policy?  

Internal transfers can be a win-win for both employers and employees. When companies transfer employees internally, there are several clear benefits. 

Boost employee engagement and morale  

Employees feel valued and invested in when they see a structured pathway for internal growth within the company. This sense of trust fosters loyalty and increases commitment to the organisation's success. Internal transfers also offer a refreshing escape from monotonous routines. Stepping into a new role, learning new skills, and taking on fresh challenges reignites employee passion, boosting engagement and combating burnout. 

Talent retention 

Employees who see growth opportunities within the company are more likely to be motivated and stay. LinkedIn says companies with strong internal mobility programs see 41% lower employee turnover rates

Cost-effective upskilling 

Compared to hiring externally, internal transfers are a more cost-effective way to address skill gaps within your workforce. By leveraging your employees' existing knowledge and experience, you reduce the need for extensive onboarding and training for new hires. 

Knowledge transfer and best practices 

When experienced employees transition to new roles, they take their knowledge and expertise with them. The new team dynamics allow them to mentor and train others, ensuring best practices are shared and continuously improved across the organisation. 

Breaking down silos  

Moving employees across departments breaks down communication barriers and fosters collaboration. This cross-pollination of ideas and experiences leads to fresh perspectives, improved problem-solving, and increased innovation.  

Build a talent pipeline 

Internal transfers provide a platform to assess leadership potential within your existing workforce. By observing employees in new roles and challenging situations, you can identify individuals with the skills and temperament to become future leaders in the company. As senior positions become vacant, you have a pool of ready-made candidates.  

Building a more cohesive company culture 

Regular interaction and collaboration between different departments lead to a stronger sense of unity and shared purpose. This fosters a more positive and cohesive company culture, where everyone feels part of a bigger team working towards a common goal. 

Benefits for your employees 

Internal transfers provide employees with a range of advantages.  

Career development opportunities 

Transfers provide employees with a chance to learn new skills, take on increased responsibility and advance their careers. They get to shed the familiar skin of their current position and dive into new skills, knowledge, and challenges. These opportunities broaden their skillset and open doors to exciting new career possibilities within your organisation. 

Greater job satisfaction 

Feeling stuck in a monotonous routine can drain the life out of anyone's job satisfaction. A transfer is a refreshing escape hatch, injecting excitement into the employee's workday. Accepting new responsibilities, acquiring new skills, and adopting new thinking to overcome challenges reignites their passion and motivation.  

Improved internal networking 

Moving employees across departments fosters communication, collaboration, and relationship-building between different corners of your company. This encourages the exchange of new ideas and leads to a more cohesive and supportive work environment for your employees. 

Enhanced sense of belonging  

Feeling valued and trusted is the secret sauce to employee engagement and retention. When an employee is selected for an internal transfer, it sends a powerful message – "We see your potential, we trust your abilities, and we want you to grow with us." This sense of belonging and investment strengthens their commitment to the company and its culture.  

What should your employee transfer policy cover? 

Your employee transfer policy should outline key elements to ensure a smooth and transparent transition for both employees and the organisation. Here are the essential components to include: 

Eligibility criteria 

Specify who is eligible to apply for transfers and ensure employees understand the basic requirements that applicants must meet. Consider factors such as performance metrics and tenure within the company as crucial determinants. 

Transfer process 

Define the procedures for expressing interest in a job transfer and detail the steps involved in the application and selection process. Clearly communicate how employees can navigate this process to explore new opportunities within the organisation. 


Clearly outline the authority responsible for approving transfers and elaborate on the factors considered during decision-making. Whether it's department heads, HR, or senior management, transparency in decision-making fosters employee trust. 

Notification requirements 

Establish guidelines regarding the notice period employees and their current managers must provide when a job transfer is approved. Clearly communicating these expectations ensures a seamless transition and minimises disruptions in workflow. 

Training and support 

Detail the support mechanisms in place for employees transitioning from their current position to a new role. This may include orientation programs, mentorship initiatives, or training opportunities designed to facilitate a successful adjustment to their new responsibilities. 

Compensation and benefits 

Clarify whether there will be any changes to salary, benefits, or entitlements post-transfer. Open communication about potential adjustments ensures employees are well-informed about the financial implications of their transition. 

Probation period 

Specify if there is a probationary period following the transfer to assess the employee's suitability in their new role. This allows for an evaluation of performance and alignment with the expectations of the new position. 

Appeals process 

Clearly define the steps employees can take to appeal a denied job transfer request. Establishing a fair and transparent appeals process demonstrates your organisation's commitment to addressing concerns and providing avenues for dispute resolution. 

How to roll out your employee transfer policy 

Implementing your employee transfer policy requires a strategic and inclusive approach. Here's a breakdown of key steps to guide you through the process: 

Get buy-in from your team 

Incorporate your employees into policy development to gain valuable insights. Solicit feedback through surveys, focus groups or meetings to ensure diverse perspectives are considered. This inclusive approach contributes to a well-rounded policy and fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among your workforce. 

It is imperative to include the finalised internal transfer policy in your employee handbook. This central document serves as a go-to resource for employees, consolidating crucial information about your organisation's policies and procedures. 

Communicate clearly and regularly 

Transparency is key when introducing a new policy. Clearly communicate the transfer policy to all employees, providing detailed explanations of its purpose, benefits, and the expected impact on the organisation. Regular updates and reminders will reinforce the importance of the policy and help embed it into your organisational culture. 

Train your managers 

Empower your managers by providing comprehensive training on the employee transfer policy. Ensure they understand the intricacies of the policy, their roles in the transfer process, and how to effectively communicate these changes to their teams. This training facilitates a smooth transition and promotes consistency in policy application and administration across different departments. 

Monitor and review 

Establish a systematic approach to monitor and review the effectiveness of your employee transfer policy. Regularly assess key performance indicators, gather feedback from employees and managers, and identify areas for improvement. This ongoing evaluation process allows you to make timely adjustments. Ensuring the policy remains relevant and aligned with your organisation's evolving needs. 

Dos and don’ts of employee transfer policies: 


  • Be clear and concise: Use plain language that everyone can understand. 

  • Be transparent: Explain the reasons behind the policy and be upfront about decision-making criteria. 

  • Be fair and consistent: Apply the policy consistently to all employees. 

  • Be flexible: Allow for exceptions and extenuating circumstances. 

  • Be supportive: Offer training and support to employees transitioning to new roles. 


  • Make it too bureaucratic: Keep the process simple and efficient. 

  • Leave room for ambiguity: Clearly define roles and responsibilities. 

  • Treat transfers as a one-way street: Encourage two-way communication and feedback. 

  • Neglect communication: Keep everyone informed throughout the process. 

  • Forget about morale: Be mindful of how transfers can impact employee wellbeing. 

Get expert HR advice on employee transfer policies today  

Are you ready to establish an employee transfer policy in your own business but need help figuring out where to start? Speak to our team of HR experts who’ve helped thousands of small-to-medium-sized Kiwi businesses just like yours. Remember, a well-crafted employee transfer policy is an investment in your team and your business. It fosters a culture of growth, builds trust, and helps retain top employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any legal requirements for employee transfers in NZ?

While there isn't a specific law solely dedicated to internal transfers, employers must comply with various employment relations laws that apply to the process, such as:

  • The Employment Relations Act 2000: Ensures fair and reasonable treatment of employees during changes to their employment, including transfers.
  • The Holidays Act 2003: Guarantees employees retain their accrued annual leave entitlements when transferring within the same company.
  • Privacy Act 2020: Protects employee privacy when collecting and handling personal information during the transfer process.
What if an employee refuses a transfer after being selected?

Open communication is key. Discuss their concerns and explore alternatives or accommodations. If they firmly decline, understand their reasons, and ensure the decision aligns with employment law. Remember, forced transfers can damage morale and trust. 

How can you manage potential disruptions during an employee transfer?

Planning and communication are crucial. Ensure proper handover procedures are in place for outgoing employees and provide adequate training and support for the new role occupant. Keep teams informed to minimise confusion and maintain productivity. 

Can you transfer employees temporarily?

Yes, temporary transfers can be valuable for covering short-term needs, testing potential permanent moves, or fostering skill development. Define the duration, expectations, and compensation clearly in the agreement.

Can you offer incentives for internal transfers?

Yes, offering targeted incentives like signing bonuses, relocation assistance or additional training can make transfers more attractive to employees. Especially for critical roles or challenging locations. 

Do you need to update employee handbooks or contracts to reflect the transfer policy?

Yes, ensure your handbook and individual contracts reference the policy and its key elements. This provides a readily accessible point of reference for both employers and employees. 

Guides in this category

View All

Have a question?

Employsure Logo

Not a client yet?

0800 568 012

Existing clients call

0800 675 700

Existing clients (overseas)

+64 9 941 5205

Employsure Office

8 Tangihua Street, Auckland CBD
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo

Copyright © 2024 Employsure Pty Ltd. ABN 40 145 676 026

Employsure Protect is a discretionary risk product issued by Employsure Mutual Limited ACN 630 256 478 (AFSL 544232). Employsure Mutual has appointed Employsure Limited to distribute the product in New Zealand. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the Employsure Protect Product Disclosure Statement.