Although job sharers are part time workers, job-sharing is slightly different in that they don’t have a part time job each, instead one full time job is shared, usually between two people. This means responsibilities, tasks, hours and pay and conditions are shared in proportion to the hours each job sharer works.
Job sharing has a number of advantages, disadvantages and particular characteristics. Here are our top five tips for managing a successful job share arrangement;
1. Divide the role in the most effective way possible
The assumption is often that the responsibilities of the role will be identical for each employee, and the division applying only in respect of hours worked. But actually you can be a bit more creative than this and make the most of the skills, attributes, preferences and experience levels of the two employees in question.
This is particularly appropriate where it doesn’t necessarily matter at what point in the week various tasks are completed, but if one employee has strengths in one area of the role, and the other is better at something else, it makes sense to design the division of the role to reflect that. This is likely to achieve a higher standard of performance overall, and is also likely to result in more motivated employees.
Similarly, if the hours each job share partner is working are not exactly equal, there may be tasks or responsibilities which lend themselves better to the hours arrangements you have in place.
2. Make the most of potential flexibility
With ‘normal’ part time working, you have the same issues around holiday or sickness absence cover as you do with full timers. But with a job share, you could consider building in a requirement to cover each other’s absences, or at least some of them. It might not be possible, but it is an option which can represent a big advantage for an employer, saving on temp costs and benefiting from work being covered by someone who is already in effect doing it.
3. Minimise common problems
Effective handover arrangements and communication between job share partners are the most frequent areas of concern and there are things you can do to minimise the effects of these issues. You can help job sharers develop appropriate communication strategies and methods which work for them and for the role they are doing.
There will be specific areas of the role which present greatest challenges in respect of handover and communication, but identifying these from the start and putting in place strategies to ensure continuity, consistency and a smooth service will help enormously.
Consider whether an overlap of hours would be doable, as this can help handover and communication of key issues much more effective. If not, a logbook to write messages, copying each other into emails and other structures to ensure everyone is up to speed with everything are essential.
4. Have clear contractual arrangements
The job share contract should not only set out the individual’s own contractual arrangements, including any flexibility required, hours of work etc, but should also be clear about their working relationship with their job share partner. You should be clear that pay-related matters are applied individually, in order that job sharers are clear that in respect of bonuses or pay rises, their own individual performance is relevant, meaning they cannot either rely on their job sharer’s good performance to increase their own remuneration, and will in turn not be penalised in the event of poorer performance from their colleague.
5. Ensure arrangements for one job share partner leaving are clear
It must be clearly defined in the contracts of job sharers what will happen in the event of one employee leaving – either resigning or moving elsewhere in the organisation. Their job share partner will naturally be concerned about their job but assuming the employer cannot guarantee to find another job share partner, the procedure which will be followed if one job share partner leaves needs to be clear from the beginning so that expectations are managed.
A reasonable procedure would involve offering the job share partner the role on a full time basis, making reasonable efforts to find an alternative job share partner (set a timescale for this) and a last-resort option if this is not possible. In a bigger organisation this might mean attempting to redeploy the remaining job share partner to a comparable part time role elsewhere, but in a small business this is unlikely to be feasible, and the right to terminate employment in this eventuality should be made clear in the contract.
As long as you have behaved reasonably, followed a fair procedure, acted in accordance with the contractual arrangements you have in place and have done what you can to keep the remaining job share partner in employment, termination is an acceptable last resort.
If you are considering implementing a job share arrangement in your business and would like advice on the contractual issues or managing it effectively, do get in touch for advice.