Job sharing or work sharing is an employment arrangement where typically two people are retained on a part-time or reduced-time basis to perform a job normally fulfilled by one person working full-time. Compensation is apportioned between the workers, thus leading to a net reduction in per-employee income. Job sharing should not be confused with the more pejorative term featherbedding, which describes the deliberate retention of excess workers on a payroll.
The news media began reporting in earnest on job sharing in the 1970s and 1980s. The practice was most often described as a solution tailored for women, as one Associated Press article summarized, "a compromise between fulltime housework and full-time employment". Job sharing became even more prevalent during the 2000s, as women have succeeded professionally in greater numbers and proportionally seek out alternative work arrangements.
The banking, insurance, teaching and library professions are cited as more commonly using job sharing. Some companies that use job sharing include New York Life Insurance Company, Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, and Walgreens drugstores.
Advantages and disadvantages
For employees seeking more free time for themselves, job sharing may be a way to take back more control of their personal lives. Employees who job share frequently attribute their decision to "quality of life" issues. Studies have shown that net productivity increases when two people share the same 40-hour job.
However, there is an inherent challenge in making job sharing work for the rest of the company's stakeholders. The "handoff" or "handover" communication between those sharing the job is essential, and co-workers must adapt to working with each other, for example, one person being responsible for a task on Monday, but another on Tuesday.
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