The truth is, that for many employers job sharing is just too scary. It is not the way things have traditionally been done and it is a step into the unknown. Employers can’t imagine trying to work out who does what, how they will ensure consistency and continuity and how they can afford two people.
What they do not often think about is the advantages of having two people who know the job (if the job is shared) and therefore being able to provide sickness and holiday cover; or the advantages of having employees dedicated to a discrete area of work (if the role is divided) and therefore becoming more expert or proficient in that field.
The cost of job share is minimal as the employee only gets paid for the hours they work, they usually share facilities such as a desk and the cost of their pension contributions, if based on a % earned will remain unchanged. So the only additional costs may be health care or life assurance (if offered) or other similar benefits.
The key to a successful job share is communication. It is important to ensure that the job is well defined and that the whole organisation knows who to approach and when. Communication between the job share employees is vital to ensure efficiency and continuity of service to the business, its suppliers and its customers.
Another essential factor is getting the right people in the roles. If the role is shared, the job holders must be great team players, they must be able to work and thrive within a team and not be possessive of their role. They must also be highly motivated and driven to do a good job so that bits of the job are not continually left for the other person and end up never being done. Getting recruitment right is essential.
When an employee applies for job sharing, they may be doing so under the flexible working legislation. If so, there is a duty on the employer to seriously consider the request and to respond within specified timescales. Although there is an obligation to consider the request, there is no obligation to grant it, but if the employer decides not to allow the arrangement, their decision has to be based on specific criteria. The employer can reject the request if the proposed changes result in:
• a burden of additional cost
• a detrimental effect on the business’s ability to meet customer demand
• an inability to re-organise work among existing staff
• an inability to recruit additional staff
• a detrimental effect on quality
• a detrimental effect on performance
• an insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
• a planned structural change
With the improvements in technology, the need for employers to compete for top talent and the desire to retain high performing employees, job sharing is becoming more popular. Employers who look after their staff and allow them to work in patterns they are able to, generally find that the employees are more productive while at work and perform to a higher level as they are more motivated and focussed.