my job-share divides our workload unevenly

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A reader writes:

I work in a role shared by two people – I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and my colleague does Thursday and Friday.

The total workload at the beginning of the week in the first three days is about three times as heavy as the last two days of the week. This cannot be changed and spread more evenly, due to the nature of the role.

Do I have any legal entitlement to ask for the introduction of a monthly alternating rota so that we both share the heavy days on alternative months, or can I expect to get some recognition (either financial or otherwise) of the far greater workload which I carry?

Legal entitlement? No.

I wish I knew what mythical laws people are thinking of would prohibit all these miscellaneous practices.

But you can certainly talk to your boss about the possibility of alternating the heavy days, and you can certainly ask for a raise if you think your performance merits one. Speak up!

{ 11 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    How do you know that your co-worker isn’t picking up other tasks due to the light workload? And was this workload/schedule what you agreed to when you were hired? If so, you’re going to have a hard time justifying why it should change now.

  2. Bob G.

    I would speak to your boss for the simple reason that maybe there really is a way to distribute the work more evenly. I always find it frustrating to hear that something cannot be changed but we aren’t provided with any example of the type of work to understand why it can’t be changed.

    The second issue I see is along the lines of anon 3:54′s post. Does the person who works Thursday and Friday have the ability to work a rotating schedule? If you agreed to work Mon, Tues, and Wed when hired and they agreed to work Thurs and Fri are you sure they can work Mon-Wed?

    Since it is a “job share” have you discussed your concerns with the other person who shares the job? Maybe they can come up with a way to help even out the load. I still find it hard to believe that there isn’t any way to even the load out.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m curious as to whether this is exempt or non-exempt. My experience with people sharing jobs is that this tends to occur in non-exempt, hourly roles. That is, somebody is being paid by the hour. If that’s the case, I’m not sure what the complaint it.

  4. Wilton Businessman

    Most job share programs are more a convenience for the employee rather than the employer. Perhaps that value has been lost somewhere down the line. You’re already getting a greater portion of the “weekly wages”, shouldn’t you also get more work done?

    Maybe the employer realizes that M-W the job has more work and therefore already pays you more per hour than your counterpart? Maybe your pay for the “slow” time isn’t justified.

    Talk to your boss, but don’t be surprised if she offers you a little cheese.

    1. Natalie

      “You’re already getting a greater portion of the “weekly wages”, shouldn’t you also get more work done?”

      I would assume the OP is no matter what, since they work 3 days a week instead of two.

  5. Anonymous

    I thought it might be helpful to add more detail about my role. I work in a hospital dealing with bereavements and as there are far more at weekends, I pick up the bulk of the work on Mon-Wed. This can’t be changed as there is a legal requirement to ensure that realtives can have all the paperwork quickly so they can register the death in 5 days, so the workload cannot be spread evenly across the week.
    My colleague and I are paid exactly the same, pro rata, even though she only picks up a third of the workload. She does have a couple of extra tasks over the two days which take about 15 minutes of time, in no way giving any sort of equality to the workload.

    1. fposte

      I’m still curious about the 3/2 day split translating to 50/50 in the pay. Did that evolve incrementally so that you didn’t feel there was a moment when you could say “Wait a minute”? Were the additional tasks for Thursday and Friday considered sufficient to bump things up to make it even (and is it possible that you’re underestimating them)? Or were you told that that was your only option if you wanted to job-share at all?

      I’m just thinking that some of what’s going on is the frustration at the base situation, and how it got that way might be relevant to what you can do to address it.

  6. Natalie

    Is there some reason your colleague can’t work Wed-Fri and you work Mon-Tues? If you are still paid the same, that should even the workload.

  7. Kelly O

    This one seems a little sticky. The nature of the job means whoever pulls Monday is going to have the heavier workload, given the information you’ve provided.

    Seems to me there are a few options, but for brevity’s sake I’ll discuss a couple of them. First, and simplest, is to just acknowledge that this is the job you signed up for and although it might not be ideal, you have the flexibility of a shortened work-week.

    Second, you could talk with your boss and co-worker to arrange an alternate splitting of days. This only works if both you and your co-worker can deal with the days you’d need to work, and it would still probably involve someone routinely getting Mondays, although maybe swapping out Tuesday for another day, or the person who works earlier in the week gets fewer days.

    Another alternative, and again this depends totally on you and your co-worker and boss being able to come up with an agreement, is to alternate weeks – one week you work three days, the next week your co-worker works those same three days, and you alternate back and forth. (I know nurses who have so many days on, so many off, and it alternates based on the week. It’s not as structured, but as one of them pointed out to me, once you get your system down, you learn to deal.)

    All of those options depend heavily on agreement across the board, and might come with changes to pay and home situations, if they’re even possible. And I’ll add that while I understand wanting someone to acknowledge at the very least that your workload is heavier, you aren’t always going to get that. And, this also highlights the importance of understanding as much about your job situation as you can before you agree to a split, so you don’t wind up down the road feeling taken advantage of or bitter because you feel you got the short end of the stick. (And I’m not trying to be hyper-critical, I’m just offering an alternate point of view.)

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