Job sharing is defined in Eurofound's 2015 report on New forms of employment (2.4 MB PDF) as an employment relationship in which one employer hires several workers, but normally just two, to fill a single full-time position.
It is a form of part-time work that ensures the shared job is permanently staffed. In some Member States, job sharers have their own individual contracts of employment and take a share of the full-time job's pay and benefits that reflects the hours they work or the tasks they do. In others, job sharing is based on a single contract that includes two or more workers.
In some European countries, job sharing is already a common employment form. In others – in companies in the Czech Republic and Poland, for instance – it has only recently emerged as a more widespread practice without being specifically regulated. Legal provisions on job sharing have recently been introduced in some countries, for example, in Slovenia and Slovakia.
Job-sharing can bring a range of benefits for both employers and employees. Two people can bring a wider range of skills and experience to a role and can contribute new ideas and working approaches. Job-sharing has also been shown to improve retention and absence cover, and can help to keep teams motivated by creating a stimulating environment.
It can be a means of improving the status and career prospects of part-time workers while offering flexibility to employers, resulting in improved work–life balance. It can also help women to rise to senior positions while allowing them to benefit from the reduced hours of a part-time role. Workers mainly opt for job sharing if they need a flexible form of employment (for example, because of care responsibilities, educational needs, or if disability or illness prevents them from working full time).
However, there are concerns about issues such as the loss of benefits that full-time employment would guarantee, conflict between job sharers and lack of control over the nature and outcomes of work. Job sharing requires a high degree of organisation and commitment on all sides, and communication and flexibility are key to making any arrangement work. If poorly implemented, job sharing can lead to an increase in work intensity, overtime and work-related stress (for example, if the ‘fit’ of job sharers is not right). Sometimes, it can result in the job sharers being given less responsibility.