Should job shares be required to cover their partner’s leave: ask the expert

I have seen a job share position advertised which I am very interested in. However, it states: “Flexibility to work additional hours outwith these times to provide planned absence cover for the other job sharer is required.” The reason I require a job share (as I imagine most employees do) is because I cannot commit to working more than half of the week due to childcare. Can employers make this a legal requirement? I also don’t understand the logic of it, as surely if I were to be called in to cover when my job share is off it would just leave the employer short when I am taking my time off in lieu for working the extra hours. When full-time workers are on holiday or off sick nobody magically appears to fill their shoes!

The Flexible Working Regulations do not oblige employers to offer flexibility to new staff, but merely give staff with 26 weeks’ service the right to request flexibility.

Women with caring responsibilities can argue that a requirement for a job to be full time is indirectly discriminatory on grounds of sex, because more women than men need to work part time. An employer can justify indirect discrimination if they can show that it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. Here, an employer might be able to show that the need to have cover is a legitimate aim so it is proportionate to ask the job share to cover in the other job share’s absence.


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