EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Employee sharing

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Employee sharing is a new form of employment that is defined in a 2015 Eurofound report on new forms of employment as ‘an employment form in which a group of employers hires workers jointly and is jointly responsible for them’. The Eurofound research identified two types of employee sharing.

  • Strategic employee sharing: where a group of employers forms a network that hires one or several workers to be sent on individual work assignments with the participating companies. The structure is similar to temporary agency work, with the difference that the workers rotate regularly among the participating employers and work exclusively for these employers, and the network itself does not aim to make a profit.
  • Ad hoc employee sharing: where an employer that temporarily cannot provide work for its staff sends them to work at another company. The employment contract between the initial employer and the worker is maintained while the worker is incorporated into the work organisation of the receiving employer. Again, the structure is similar to temporary agency work, with the difference that the initial employer is not in the business of placing people in work, and the intention is that the placement is temporary and the worker will return to work with the first employer.

Ad hoc employee sharing is mainly driven by a wish to maintain an employment relationship with a workforce in spite of a temporary lack of workload. Strategic employee sharing was established out of an economic and social necessity to create a sustainable relationship between companies and workers, even if an individual employer could not provide sustainable work. While the intention initially was to give contractual security to involuntarily mobile workers (such as seasonal workers), it has come to be considered as a model that can offer voluntary flexible work and also retain employees.

In order for strategic employee sharing to be successful, the legal framework in a country must allow for its establishment. Furthermore, there must be a regular demand for such employees in participating companies, the human resources demands and strategies of the participating companies must be compatible, and the participating companies should not be too far apart so as to enable commuting. If collective agreements are applicable, the core workers and the shared employees should have similar wages and working conditions in order to avoid social dumping.

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