Job sharing is often given as an example of flexible working that has real advantages for both working parents and their employer. But how does it work in practice and what are the job sharing pros and cons?
Job sharing involves two people working part-time schedules to complete the work one person would do in a full-time job.
It’s still fairly rare in the private sector but much more widespread in government organisations and with employers that actively promote flexible working arrangements.
The specifics of how a job share works in practice depends a lot on the role being performed. With some job sharing arrangements there needs to be regular time for handover – perhaps a day or half a day a week where each colleague updates the other on progress and what needs to happen next.
With other job shares the two people work independently – for example two dentists who see their own patient caseload, between them providing a full week of cover for the dental practice.
Job sharing at senior levels remains rare, but there are some great examples where it works in practice.
Job sharing works well for those who are seeking to reduce their overall hours, such as working parents who are seeking to drive a better balance between work time and family commitments. It’s also useful when there are older employees who wish to reduce their work time and have a lot of important knowledge to pass on to a colleague.
For an employer, it’s an ideal way to support employees to adopt more flexible working practices, while achieving full-time cover for a position.
Some people find job sharing challenging. Sometime this is down to personality traits – it’s tricky for those who like to retain a full sense of control over their work or find it hard to accept that people might approach tasks differently.
Other challenges often stem from a lack of structure. It’s very important to have systems in place so that each person in the job share has good sight of what the other has done and what needs to be achieved. Clear communication is essential in making a job sharing arrangement work.
It can also be challenging when one half of the job share decides to move on, as you will need to recruit carefully for their replacement.
Legally, every employer must give an application for flexible working serious consideration. In applying to establish job sharing, it usually works best if you can identify a potential job share partner for the role, and work with them to submit a joint proposal.
You need to outline how the approach will work, when you would like it to start and how you think it will affect your employer’s business. Read our guide to requesting flexible working for more details.
If your approach means that business performance won’t be affected and you continue to meet customer demand, it will be more difficult for your employer to reject the idea.
Employers are increasingly recognising that flexible working and job sharing can boost employee productivity and morale, and so the number of opportunities is on the rise.
The Working Mums job search enables you to find job sharing opportunities in your local area. Typical job sharing examples include officer roles in central and local government, personal assistant positions, bookkeeping and finance roles and administrative jobs.