Job sharing involves two people sharing one full-time post voluntarily. The responsibilities of the post, the hours, pay and benefits are shared.
Advantages of job sharing include:
- continuity of cover for the post throughout the day
- additional knowledge, skills and experience and a mix of ideas.
Job sharing agreements require:
- management commitment to promoting the scheme
- a clear definition of job sharing and its benefits
- commitment to management posts being open to job sharing
- agreed procedures and criteria for any exemptions of posts suitable for job sharing
- agreed procedures for applications and for interviewing
- commitment to different patterns of job sharing – to be agreed between the job sharers and the line manager.
For example there could be:
- a week on / week off arrangement
- a divided week, eg 2.5 days per week per person
- mornings/afternoons, or alternate days
- an option for job sharers to be able to agree their division of duties, with their line manager
- arrangements for liaison between the partners included in set hours, not additional hours
- equal access to training.
The agreement should also cover:
- the application of individual appraisal and promotion procedures
- arrangements, and rates of pay, for covering short and long-term absences – it should not be assumed that one job sharer will cover for the other's absence
- arrangements for statutory holidays so public holidays are shared pro rata
- advertisements for posts, unless exempted according to agreed procedures, to include reference to posts being open to job sharing.
Employers should set up a job share register and keep it up to date.
Starting from scratch?
Where there is no existing agreement on job sharing, it is advisable that a properly negotiated scheme is set up. This is not as difficult as people assume. It is essential that line managers are involved and committed at the earliest stage – this may be the most difficult hurdle to overcome!.
It is important to get the administrative arrangements right at the outset in order to avoid running into problems on a day-to-day basis. While the initial admin arrangements might take some time overall, once the scheme is up and running, this aspect of additional costs should diminish, especially with the expected reduction in staff turnover. Although there are additional costs associated with job sharing, most organisations which run schemes see them as minimal.
Management needs to recognise that the status of the post remains full time, and that the opportunity to revert to full time is offered to one of the job sharers should the other one leave. If the job share arrangement is to continue, the remaining sharer should be involved in the recruitment process, to promote the effective partnership, sharing and working relationship. If another person cannot be found for the job share, consideration should be given to finding the remaining job sharer a part-time post.
A successful scheme requires that job sharers are not overlooked for promotion or development opportunities.
Most organisations where Prospect has members will offer part-time working options, but some are based on business need. Formal job sharing arrangements are available across both the private and public sectors within Prospect, including BAESystems, the Big Lottery Fund, BT, DSTL, GE, Healthcare, HSE, Office of Rail Regulations, UK Power Networks and Urenco UK.