Job-sharing is simply an arrangement where two employees share the responsibilities for one, usually full-time, job.
There are two main types of job-sharing arrangements. In the first, all duties are the shared responsibility of both employees - the job-share partners are interchangeable. This works well in situations where the work flows continuously and where the partners are well matched.
In the second, work is divided up between the two sharers into different client groups or projects. Each partner has their own work which they focus on during their working hours. This can be a better way of arranging a job-share if the partners don’t know each other particularly well.
Pros of job-sharing
Job-sharing can be a great way of achieving work-life balance while meeting the demands of a challenging role. Unlike with part-time work, your job-share partner is there to deal with issues and problems in your absence.
As part of a job-share partnership, you are able offer your employer a wider array of skills, experience, views and ideas. And you may also be able to exchange skills and knowledge with your job share partner.
In a senior role, you may also be more likely to retain your level of responsibility and influence than you would if you worked part-time.
Cons of job-sharing
There are some potential downsides to a job-sharing arrangement. Your employer is likely to incur extra costs, for example in training, induction and admin. Job-sharing can also place added responsibility on those who manage you and your partner.
If your job-share partner decides to leave, it can be difficult to find a replacement. And if your partner becomes pregnant or falls ill, you may have to work more hours than you originally intended.
If your role involves managing staff, this can be problematic for employees who may find it difficult to report to two managers. And you may find that there is confusion from clients and/or staff who have to deal with two people.
Job-sharing requires a high degree of organisation, communication and commitment from both partners. It is imperative that job-share partners discuss in detail how they plan to divide the work and what the handover process will be.
If the partnership is to be one where duties are shared between partners, so that one takes over from the other, then a high degree of compatibility is needed.
Clear guidelines need to be set for who is responsible for what. If you or your employer doesn't know exactly who's responsible for what part of the shared job or tasks, it can easily lead to confusion, decreased productivity, and ‘finger pointing' if things go wrong.
How should I request a job-share?
You and your proposed job-share partner should submit a written proposal to your line manager outlining the reasons for your request; the advantages such an arrangement would bring to your organisation; your proposed work schedule and how you plan to handle communication and continuity.
Can my request be refused?
There are some grounds on which your request for a job-share arrangement can be refused. For more information on the right to apply for flexible working click here (ACAS guide – ‘The Right to Apply for Flexible Working’)
The Job Share Project – a programme launched by Capability Jane in 2010 to investige the feasibility and best practice examples of job sharing.