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Job sharing

By Paul Wilson

Job sharing occurs where two people carry out the range of responsibilities and duties normally associated with one position.

Job sharing is one of many flexible working options that employers may choose to offer staff or consider upon employees requesting flexible working arrangements, see our Flexible work practices - a guide for employers’ information sheet for more information. It can assist employees in achieving work-life balance and can benefit employers with leave cover and succession planning.

Job sharing is typically accessed by workers re-entering the workforce following a period of parental leave, however it is not always limited to this. Increasingly more employees are choosing to work part time hours to fulfill personal commitments, ease into retirement or due to poor health.

Benefits of job sharing

Job sharing has many benefits, some of those include encouraging retention of experienced and valued employees and enhancing the attraction of a wider pool of applicants for new positions vacant.

In a competitive labour market it makes sense to job share. Where one employee who is part of a job share arrangement leaves the organisation, training their replacement is made easy with the remaining staff member being able to transfer skills, coach and mentor a new employee. This can be particularly useful in the case of mature workers easing into retirement. It can address the issue of substantive skill loss with experienced staff exiting and make for a smooth transition for all involved.

Job sharing also promotes the organisation as an employer of choice. Most positions can potentially be job shared; even managerial positions. However it requires some thought and planning as to how the arrangement will work.

Additionally, job share arrangements promote equal opportunity within the workplace, particularly with respect to parents returning from parental leave or employees returning to work following an illness or injury.

Disadvantages of job sharing

Extra effort must be made to ensure effective communication between the job share parties (and in the case of managerial positions, their team) is achieved and that continuity of work is maintained. Allowing a cross over period each week would facilitate work hand over and continuity of work tasks, however consideration then need to be made in terms of where the two employees would be located when they are both in (do they need two desks, phones etc)?

The crossover of shifts may lead to confusion by staff or clients who have to deal with two separate people.

Conflicting decisions made by the job share employees can further create confusion amongst team members and clients. Additionally, if one of the job sharers leaves the position there may be difficulties in recruiting a replacement to compliment the remaining employee’s hours of work, skill set, and work style.

Implementing a successful job share

Develop a clear and concise position description that allocates tasks and responsibilities to each employee.

Schedules must clearly state the times and days each employee will work.

Provide support and integrate the job share arrangement into the workplace.

Develop communication strategies (i.e. such as designated hand over periods, a central compendium, electronic calendar or weekly email documenting completed and outstanding tasks etc.)

Develop clear policies regarding who will cover hours when personal, annual or long service leave is taken by one employee or both simultaneously. Consider how the position will function during periods of turnover or where a suitable job share partner cannot be sourced.

Consider how performance reviews will operate and whether both employees will have common key performance indicators or their own unique performance measures.

Communicate the job share arrangement across the staff and client base to minimize confusion.

For more information contact CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email

Job sharing occurs where two people carry out the range of responsibilities and duties normally associated with one position.

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