When two part-time employees share one full-time position, they are job sharing. This arrangement is commonly requested by an employee who has a baby and wants to return to work on a part-time basis. What is keeping her from part-time work is a position with full-time duties. Her other dilemma is that she loves her job and doesn't want to give it up. Mothers with older children may become so burned out over the course of time that they request this as well.
It's not only women who are on the job-sharing bandwagon. Anyone, regardless of gender or family obligations, may request to spend more time at home and less time at work. They may no longer need a full-time income, have elderly parents who need their help, or want to ease into retirement slowly.
Several books and magazine articles have been written on the subject and they all have one common denominator: these work arrangements are requested by employees, not by supervisors. They're an easy sell if the employee puts herself in the shoes of her employer, does the legwork, and prepares a proposal that is hard to turn down.
Job sharing is not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, so it's fair game as long as the agreement between you and the employee does not violate any labor laws. The arrangement is likely to be successful if the two people sharing the job also share the ability to:
Communicate effectively and promptly
Pick up where another person left off
Be a team player
Trust another person to do the job right
Share the credit for a job well done
Troubleshoot problems immediately
You can expect the employee to begin the search for a job-sharing partner herself. The candidate may be another current employee who also wants to reduce her hours, or someone from the outside may apply and you will need to interview them and make the final decision. You are under no obligation to consider letting an employee job share unless you think it can be done successfully.
A job-sharing arrangement will work only if the two part-time people can be as productive as one full-time employee. Since employees with flexible work schedules are generally less stressed, employers are likely to be ahead of the game. Two part-time employees can surpass one full-time employee in productivity, especially since failing to do so can end the arrangement.
Other benefits to the employer are:
Two people are trained to do one position. If one leaves, the remaining person can train the replacement for you.
Vacations can be coordinated so that one person is always there to cover the other. The job will rarely be left vacant.
When a job-share partner is sick, the other may be able to cover. This results in full coverage for the job every day.
A decrease in benefits expenses if part-time employees do not qualify for full-time benefits. This will directly increase your bottom line.
Overall, you'll get better coverage for less money. This is why it's best to have the employees cross-trained instead of splitting the job duties. Both workers should know every task of the job so that you have the same benefit you would get from a full-time worker.
Some of the employee benefits may be split if you, as the employer, agree to do it. Insurance plans can't be split, but vacation, sick leave, and holiday pay can be split between two employees. If employees are given two weeks of vacation pay per year, each would receive one week. If the job-sharing schedule starts midyear, the paid-time-off hours will be adjusted accordingly. Holiday pay would be four hours per holiday for each employee, instead of eight.