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UVM Employee & Labor Relations

Sharing a Full-Time Position

Julie’s research job at the University was ideal in all respects, except that it kept her away from her 3-year old son more than she wanted. Another researcher in her department was in the same bind and each joked from time to time about how much they’d like to be in two places at once. One day, it all clicked. They wondered if they could design a plan to share one full-time position so that they could then spend half days at home and half at their job. They brought up the idea to their supervisor who was agreeable for a trial three-month period, as long as the research was carried on at the same level as before and as long as there was a built-in communication system between them to ensure coordination of effort. The job-sharing arrangement worked so well that their supervisor approved a one-year extension. Julie worked each morning and Susan worked each afternoon for the following year.

At the age of 60, Robert was thinking about retirement and launching a new venture on his own. He knew that he needed time to set up his business but it was impossible with his full-time library job. He approached his supervisor with the idea of working Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday and having the rest of the week to devote to his future business. They worked out a plan to recruit for a job-sharing position and together they interviewed candidates and selected a qualified and compatible person, Sarah, who was eager to work half time in a responsible position. Robert and Sarah set up a solid communication system and overlapped their jobs on Wednesday so that they could jointly keep abreast of developments in their department. As Robert approaches retirement, he is prepared for his new business yet continues to make a solid contribution to the library. Sarah will inevitably need to decide whether she in turn wishes to take on the full-time spot once Robert is retired.

About Sharing a Full-Time Position

A voluntary commitment between two employees to share one job, dividing responsibilities and salary, is sharing a full-time position. Each employee receives UVM benefits equal to those earned by part-time employees. Generally, an agreement is written between the partners and the supervisor to establish the time period for the arrangement, a procedure for evaluating the partnership, and a process for returning the position to full-time status if the supervisor must do so.

The time may be divided in various ways, most commonly by splitting the workday in half or the workweek in alternating twos and threes. Employees may apply together for one position by preparing resumes and interviewing jointly. The supervisor may advertise and fill a part of the shared position. In all cases, the employees must work together to divide the work according to ability and interest and they must maintain regular contact to be sure the job is being done.

Job sharing can be a solution for both the University and the employee. It offers the flexibility to balance work with time for other pursuits or responsibilities. Many appreciate the opportunity to pursue their career even when other pressures make full-time commitment impossible. Supervisors, in turn, benefit from the continuity of having valuable employees stay on during lifetime chages and also cover for their job-sharing partner during vacations and illnesses. Since each employee has their own set of skills and abilities, supervisors frequently acknowledge that they have a broader, more well-rounded position.

Is job sharing appropriate for every position? It works best when responsibilities of a position can be divided and completed at different times of the week. No matter what, the position should be carefully designed so that:

  • Key tasks are clear and never overlooked.
  • Each partner makes good communication part of the job both between each other and within the department
  • Expectations for performance are clear and measurable

Sharing a Full-Time Position Compared to Regular Part-Time Employee Status

There is one fundamental difference between regular part-time status and sharing a full-time position. The job-sharing agreement between the supervisor and the two employees is for a fixed period of time that may be extended at the decision of the supervisor, or may become a full-time position, possibly filled by another employee. In short, employees sharing positions will have somewhat less job security than regular part-time employees.

Performance Discrepancies in Job-Sharing

Job-sharing partners have a responsibility toward each other to perform effectively in the position. Each individual in a shared position will be evaluated separately and independently according to the procedures outlined in the Staff Handbook. Probationary periods for non-exempt employees will also be required unless clearly stated otherwise in the work agreement between the supervisor and job-sharing employees. When one partner in a job-sharing position performs poorly, the supervisor may choose to replace that person immediately with another partner or end the job sharing agreement early and seek a full-time person to fill the position.

Is More Supervision and Communication Required?

There may be cases when more supervision and coordination is necessary, although procedures in the original work agreement can help reduce this. For example, a supervisor can expect a weekly meeting with the job-sharing partners to review the work and anticipate problems. In most cases, the benefits of a strong job-sharing partnership outweigh concerns about supervision.

Models for Job-Sharing Success

Contact Employee Relations at 656-8623 for models of successful job sharing agreements at UVM. You may also be put in touch with supervisors or job-sharing partners who can provide their insights about this kind of work arrangement.

Next: Temporary Reduction to Part-Time (Employee Initiated)

Last modified October 22 2013 12:00 PM