What is job sharing?

Job sharing is a formal arrangement where the duties, hours, salary and benefits of one full-time role are shared between two part-time people.

It is different to job splitting which is where the duties of one full-time role are divided between two part-time roles and little interaction is required between the two employees.

Job sharing can be beneficial for many reasons including to:

  • provide a wide range of experience and ideas within one role; this can be particularly beneficial for roles requiring a wide-ranging and/or diverse skillset
  • help attract and retain diverse talent, particularly in roles where part-time working is not possible due to the demands of the role (for example, leadership roles or roles where daily cover is needed)
  • provide a level of continuity of service through periods of absence (job share partners are usually encouraged to take holiday at different times)
  • increase productivity
  • enable effective problem-solving (the partners can test ideas and generate different perspectives together)
  • facilitate flexible retirement whilst at the same time ensure complete cover for the role
  • support work-life balance
  • avoid the pressure of a full-time job being compressed to part-time hours

The parameters of agreed job sharing arrangements are set out below and should be considered by all employees before requesting, agreeing or introducing a job sharing arrangement:

  • HR must be consulted before any decision is made and a formal job sharing contract must be put in place.
  • There must be one common job description and each job share partner must be prepared to undertake the full range of duties. It is important that there is equality of responsibility between the two partners.
  • The usual share of workload (and hours where applicable) is 50:50, although a 60:40 share may also be considered.
  • The total hours will not normally exceed the hours for a full time post (this is to help ensure the costs do not outweigh the business benefits). However, there may be some job roles that require more than full-time hours and therefore, two people could share the role with a greater period of overlap.
  • There must be a period of overlap for handover between the roles.
  • The costs of recruiting a job share partner should not outweigh the business benefits of the arrangement.
  • Job share partners must be paid on the same grade but may be at different incremental points within the grade relating to their skills and experience.
  • Job share partners are usually expected to share a desk to ensure efficient use of space.
  • The arrangement must be regularly reviewed. It is recommended that there is an initial 12-week trial period, usually followed by a review at 6 months and a year. Procedures to follow if a trial period fails are set out below.
  • Holiday and other leave arrangements are set out below.
  • Procedures for failure to recruit a job share partner or if one job share partner leaves are set out below.

Job share partners should not normally book holidays at the same time as this can be disadvantageous operationally. An advantage of a job share arrangement is that it usually provides some level of cover for the role during the absence of one partner. For example, if a full time employee is off sick for a week, their role would usually not be covered but in a job share, 40% or more of the role will be covered by the remaining partner.

Although not a contractual obligation, in the event that one job share partner is absent from work, the University may request the remaining partner to work such additional hours to ensure the job is satisfactorily performed. This should be outlined in the initial letter stating the terms of the job share and it should be made clear whether payment will be made in line with the University’s standard overtime procedures for extra hours worked or whether time off in lieu will be offered. The decision whether to offer TOIL or overtime payment will be at the manager’s discretion and due consideration must be given to the costs of offering each option bearing in mind that the absent partner may also be receiving pay (e.g. holiday or sick pay).

All full-time employee in all job families at the University are able to apply to reduce their hours (to between 40 and 60%) and propose that the remaining hours be filled by a job share arrangement. This will be duly considered against the business needs by managers or academic leads in the way that all flexible working requests are.

A full-time employee may request to reduce their hours to between 40 and 60% and in considering the feasibility of this, the manager may decide that the most appropriate way to fill the remaining hours is through a job share arrangement.

Employees considering reducing their hours and/or proposing a job share arrangement should follow the Making a flexible working request guidance and complete a flexible working request form. If a request from an existing employee to job share is approved in principle, the University will advertise for a job sharer in the normal way.

If a job sharing partner cannot be found following advertisement, the following procedure should be followed:

a) an assessment of the needs of the organisation/department should be carried out to ascertain whether full time coverage is required,

b) if it is deemed that full time coverage is required, the employee will be offered to continue/take up the post full time

c) if the employee is unable to continue/take up the post full time, a University-wide search for alternative work should be implemented for the employee, and

d) if all the above has been carried out and it is still not possible to either find a job share partner or find the employee a suitable alternative post, the University may be required to consider the termination of the employment of the employee under the Procedure for dismissal on other grounds.

A job applicant may discuss during the application process for a full-time role whether the role would be suitable for job sharing. Recruiting managers are encouraged to consider if their role would suit a job share or other flexible working arrangements prior to advertisement and to include this in the advertisement if they believe it will. If a request from a prospective employee to job share is approved in principle, the recruiting manager should try to match two applicants who have applied individually but who both wish to job share. If this is not possible, a further recruitment attempt may be made but this will be dependent on business need and is at the manager’s discretion.

There are many benefits and positives to job sharing. There are also sometimes issues associated with it; many of these can be easily overcome. Managers agreeing job sharing and employees requesting it should fully consider the impact of the request before proceeding. In particular, prospective job sharers should make sure they are clear on the procedures that will be followed if the trial period fails or if one job share partner leaves; these are outlined below.

As with all flexible working arrangements, responsibility for making job sharing work must be shared by employees and managers. Together you need to assess opportunities and challenges in any proposed arrangement openly and honestly.

As the business environment and individual circumstances are continually changing, job sharing arrangements should be reviewed regularly and any issues that arise are best dealt with as soon as possible.

During the trial period, the Line Manager should be managing the performance of the job sharers effectively following the relevant policies and procedures. If at the end of a trial period, the line manager concludes that the job share arrangements are not working effectively, the reason for failure should be considered carefully and appropriate action taken to resolve issues and extend the trial period or terminate the job share arrangement. Action taken may be different depending on the reason for the failure of the job share - for example, if the failure is due to the role not being suitable for job sharing or if it is related to individual capability or performance.

Where an individual’s capability or performance is causing the issue, the Capability/Performance procedure or if relevant, the Managing probation: notes of guidance should be followed.

Where the trial period fails due to the role not being suitable for job sharing, the procedure for ending the job share arrangement will differ depending on the employment status of the individuals involved and you should always seek advice from your HR Business Partner. Job sharers should be aware that a failed trial period could lead to redeployment to another role or termination of their employment.

If one job share partner leaves, the following procedure should be followed:

a) an assessment of the needs of the organisation/department should be carried out to ascertain whether full time coverage is required,

b) the remaining job share partner should be offered the role full time,

c) if the remaining partner is unable to work full time, the vacant half of the job share post should be advertised,

d) if a suitable job share partner cannot be found, a University-wide search for alternative work should be implemented for the remaining job share partner, and

e) if all the above has been carried out and it is still not possible to either find a replacement job share partner or find the remaining job share partner a suitable alternative post, the University may be required to consider the termination of the employment of the remaining job sharer under the Procedure for dismissal on other grounds.

Please speak to your line manager in the first instance to discuss your individual or team circumstances. Your HR Business Partner/Advisor is available should any further support and guidance be needed.