Here at the Co-op we want to make the most of people’s talents and we know that a traditional full-time role doesn’t work for everyone. We want to enable colleagues to work with us in lots of different ways. Job sharing allows colleagues to work a reduced number of hours, while the role gets covered full-time.

There are some things to things about though when considering setting up a job share arrangement, to help it work the best it can. This guide has been written to help managers set up a job share arrangement and know what to do if things change.

Crucial bits

Just so everyone’s clear, a job share means that two colleagues carry out the same role at different times. It’s different to two people doing two part-time roles. A job share is interdependent – so it needs both colleagues for it to work.

Most Co-op roles could be suitable for a job-sharing arrangement where there is a genuine commitment from both colleagues to make it work although there may be some roles where job sharing is unsuitable due to the unique demands of the role.

Advantages

Job-sharing is likely to:

• Widen the talent pool from which the Co-op can recruit from by offering increased flexibility.

• Give additional operational flexibility, for example if some overlap of the job-sharers' hours is built in during particularly busy periods.

• Lead to increased work output. Managers will have the benefit of the skills, experience, creativity and work effort of two people rather than one, especially where the job-sharers have complementary or contrasting skills.

• Minimise disruption during periods of holiday and sickness absence because the manager will need to find cover for only part of the job, rather than all of it.

Disadvantages

Job-sharing may:

• Create some loss of continuity if two people are dealing with the same customers.

• Take up more of the line manager's time because two people, instead of one, have to be recruited, trained and managed.

• Cause difficulties in respect of finding job-share partners who are compatible in terms of the hours and days that they each want to work.

• Create conflict if the job-sharers have different approaches to the job and the way it should be done

• Cause inconvenience if one of the job-share partners leaves.

Setting up a job share

You might look at setting up a job share because of a flexible working request from an existing colleague. Or it might be because you want to recruit someone who’d like to work a job share or you are looking to widen the potential pool of colleagues and think an increased offer of flexibility could help. Whatever the reason for a job share arrangement, it’s important that both job sharing colleagues are involved in the discussions as early as possible.

If you’re recruiting someone to become the other half of a job share for an existing colleague, it’s important to involve the existing colleague in the process. This could mean including some questions from the colleague in the interview or having them meet all the candidates when they arrive for interview. Job shares work best when the two colleagues have a good working relationship. As a minimum, you shouldn’t appoint a job share partner until the colleague has met them.

Once you’ve appointed both job share partners, you should put some time in for you to all discuss the ways of working. It’s best if the job share partners can agree this between them, but it’s important for their manager to be involved so you understand how things are going to work and so the colleagues feel supported if there’s anything they need help agreeing. There’s more information in the ‘ways of working’ section below.

Ways of working

It’s helpful to agree the ways of working for the job share at the beginning and write them down so you all have a record of what was agreed. This can be reviewed and amended as needed, but it always helps to have clarity of things from the start. Some of the things you need to think about are:-

Direct reports - If the role involves managing other team members, the job share partners should agree how that will be done. Will they each manage different members of the team, or both manage everyone on the days that they are working? It’s important that the team are all clear on what’s happening and who they should go to for support on the different days.

Responsibilities - Job shares work best when there are clear responsibilities defined. Are there reports that need doing, or meetings that happen on a particular day? If so, agree who will do these. If there are going to be things that both job share partners are responsible for doing, how will they make sure that each of them knows what the other has done? You should try to understand each colleague’s strengths and interests, or anything that they are keen to develop.

Hand-over - Having hand-over time is important in making sure that there’s consistency in the activities and service that the role provides to the team and the business. A job share is one role, not two part-time roles, so it’s important that the two colleagues have time to catch-up and update each other.

Communication - It’s important to communicate to all your stakeholders, so they understand who they need to contact for what. This could be other members of team, other managers in your department, stakeholders elsewhere in the business or those external to the Co-op. The job share partners should put clear out of office messages on their email and voicemail. They may even want to have their phones automatically forward to the other colleague on the days that they aren’t working, so stakeholders still get hold of someone whichever job share partner they call.

It’s important to review the ways of working regularly to ensure they are working for everyone. You should discuss this in your 1-2-1 with the colleagues so they can provide honest feedback, and also have time for you all to discuss together.

Hours

A job share is usually a role split in half, with some time for a hand-over. So, the two colleagues might each work 3 days a week so they have time to hand-over. Or one colleague could work 3.5 days and the other 2.5 days, again having some time together at work to hand-over.

A hand-over can be time that both job share partners get together at the point in the week they cross over, but it’s just as important that the colleague working the end of the week gives a hand-over for the colleague who’ll be working from the Monday – whether that’s keeping a shared document updated, having a log of where particular pieces of work are up to, or emailing about any activities that need to be picked up. The job share partners should work out between themselves what works best for them.

Remember, having some hand-over time might mean that the role is more than 1 FTE. You need to make sure that this is accounted for in your headcount figures and you have budget for it.

Pay

Although two colleagues may be doing the same role as a job share, they might not be paid the same amount.

If they’re in a salaried role, you’ll need to make sure they‘re paid within the salary band for the grade. But the amount of pay reflects the colleagues’ skills, experience and level of performance in the role, so one half of the job share might have more experience than the other or get a higher performance rating – which could mean that it’s right to pay them slightly more. You’ll need to make sure that you treat both colleagues fairly and only have a difference in pay when there is a clear difference in the colleagues’ skills, experience or performance.

If the job share is a spot rate role, then both colleagues must receive the correct spot rate amount for that job.

Performance

Although the two colleagues are sharing one job, their performance should be assessed individually. While clearly the work of one job share partner will impact on the other, you should make sure that you view each of their achievements and development needs separately.

Having clear goals for what work each job share partner is responsible for will help you to review their individual performance. It’s possible for two job share partners to receive different performance ratings, as you should be looking at their individual level of performance throughout the year.

If the job share colleagues are eligible to participate in a bonus or incentive scheme, any payments made will be on the basis on their individual performance and will not consider the performance of the other job share partner.

Holidays, bank holidays and other leave

Colleagues working in a job share are entitled to a pro-rata amount of holidays, based on the amount of hours they work.

You should agree with the job-sharing colleagues how they’ll arrange their holidays. It’s important that this is done fairly, so that both colleagues get the chance to have the dates that they want, and one colleague doesn’t always take the popular times of the year – such as Christmas and the school summer holidays.

Remember that job share partners are still a part of the team, so just as the team would cover for each other’s holidays, they should do that for colleagues who are job sharing. So it’s possible for both job share partners to be on holiday at the same time and the role be covered by other team members while they are off.

Job share colleagues may be happy to cover for each other while the other person is on holiday. But you shouldn’t assume that they’ll be able to do this, as people often have other commitments on the days they don’t work. Remember that if one colleague works more hours to cover the other colleagues’ holiday, then this might class as overtime and attract an overtime premium rate – depending on whether these apply to the role.

Bank holidays more often fall on a Monday. So if one colleague works at the beginning of the week they’re likely to have more bank holidays fall on their working days than the colleague who works at the end of the week. Time off for a bank holiday is 1/5 of the colleague’s weekly contractual hours. So, if a colleague works 20 hours a week, Wednesday-Friday and the bank holiday is on a Monday then they’d get 4 hours as time in lieu to make sure they get the benefit of the bank holiday.

If one job share partner goes on an extended period of leave – such as maternity leave – then you should discuss with the remaining partner about whether they’d want to increase their hours temporarily, or whether you need to recruit a temporary job share partner for them. Involve the remaining job share partner as much as possible in the decision-making process and any recruitment, so they feel included and clear as to what is going to happen.

Sickness

If one job share partner is off sick, then the other partner might be able to cover. But it’s not reasonable for you to expect the other colleague to cover sickness at short notice. You can ask them if they’d be able to work, but you need to respect that they may have other commitments on those days. They have no obligation to work on a day that aren’t contracted for.

Just as if any other team member were off sick, their work could be covered by other members of the team who aren’t part of the job share. It’s just important to make sure that arrangements for cover are communicated to their stakeholders so everyone knows who to get in touch with.

If one job share partner is going to be off sick for a while, you can discuss with the other colleague about whether they would be able to work more hours for a temporary period to cover for their partner’s absence. Again, they don’t have to do this, so you might need to look at recruiting some temporary cover or redistributing work within the team, depending on how long the colleague is likely to be off work.

What happens when one colleague leaves/moves

As a job share is interdependent, if one colleague wants to leave or take another role, then there is an implication for the other job share partner.

If one partner is leaving the role, you should discuss with the remaining job share partner whether they want to continue working in a job share arrangement. If they do then you should start the process as soon as possible to recruit a replacement job share partner. Again, it’s important that you involve the remaining partner in that process to increase the chances of a compatible working arrangement.

If you’re unable to recruit a suitable job share partner, you should talk to the colleague about whether they’d be willing to take the role on a full-time basis. You should not pressure the colleague into accepting this, but explore if this is something they’d like to do.

If the colleague is not able to take the role full-time, and you can’t recruit a suitable job share partner after making all reasonable efforts, then you will need to consult with the colleague about any redeployment options that are available. If no suitable alternative roles can be found for the colleague, then as a last resort you may need to end their employment with Co-op. This isn’t a redundancy situation, as the role is still there, so the colleague wouldn’t receive any redundancy pay.

If you’re struggling to find a suitable replacement job share partner and think you may need to explore other options for the remaining colleague, you must contact ER Services for advice as early as possible.

If you need further support

If you need advice on managing job shares, or about what to do if one job share partner is leaving, then contact ER Services.

Job share agreement letter