Job sharing

In a job share arrangement the duties and responsibilities of one job are shared among 2 or more employees who (usually) work on a part-time basis. This arrangement can be for a specified period or ongoing.

There are 2 basic models of sharing a job, the 'twin' model and the 'islands' model.

The twin model

The twin model (also known as 'job share') involves 2 employees sharing a position and its workload - completing the same tasks, but working on different days. They are jointly responsible for all duties and act as a team to complete them.

This model requires a high level of communication between job sharers.

The islands model

The islands model (also known as 'job split') involves 2 employees sharing a position, but not its workload. Duties are split up between the employees, allowing them to focus and specialise in different areas of the role, taking advantage of each person's different skill set.

In this model, job sharers have little reliance on each other to complete tasks.

Types of job sharing arrangements

Common job share arrangements include:

  • half or split week - each person works 2.5 days per week (there are many ways this time can be split)
  • half or split days - one person works mornings and the other afternoons
  • alternate week - each person works for 1 week, then takes a week off (can be useful if travel time is significant)
  • unequal ratio splits - one employee works more time than the other (e.g. 3 days per week and 2 days per week).

Complying with your industrial award

Make sure that any job-sharing arrangements meet the requirements of the relevant industrial award or agreement that covers your business.

Learn more about part-time employees on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Employer benefits

For employers, the benefits of offering job share arrangements include:

  • attracting a wider pool of applicants for new jobs
  • more part-time work available in the organisation
  • more skills and experience in a position (especially if employees have complementary skills)
  • enhanced problem solving (by having 2 minds applied to 1 task)
  • training and quality assurance (job sharing partners learn from each other and review each other's work)
  • possibilities for upward mobility (if a senior employee job shares with a lower level employee)
  • improved continuity and coverage of work (when one employee is sick or on holidays)
  • continuity of skills and knowledge (if one employee leaves, there is still someone experienced in the role).

Handovers in job sharing

A 'handover' is the transfer of information between job sharers at the end of their shift. It ensures that employees in a job share arrangement can function effectively as a unit.

Written handover

A written handover often includes an email update as well as a log of jobs completed and in progress.

As part of a written handover, it's important for job sharers to establish systems and rules. For example, any critical matters should be highlighted, and every task given a level of priority and timeframe for completion.

Overlap period

You may want to include an overlap period in the job sharers' working hours so they can discuss, face-to-face, what they have been doing, important news, and resolve any problems. Communication needs to be clear and concise, as time is often limited.

An overlap period also gives managers the chance to check in with both job sharers at the same time.

Shared emails

A joint (or 'shared') email account is the most efficient way for job sharers to manage emails. This ensures that urgent emails are attended to in the shortest possible time, as either employee can reply.

Job sharers' email signature blocks should reflect their days and hours of work.

Matching job sharers

Job sharers can be 'mirror pairs' (similar personality traits) or 'opposite pairs' (different personality traits) and work very well together. But for job share arrangements to be effective, it's important that both partners possess:

  • good communication skills
  • complementary capabilities
  • similar work ethics, habits and organisation systems
  • compatible career goals.

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