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Government must cut cost of job sharing, urge MPs

MPs and non-profit groups (NGOs) have called on the UK government to make job sharing a mainstream working practice.

In an open letter published today (8 July), 21 MPs and NGOs urged the government to introduce a reduction on employer’s National Insurance (NI) contributions for employees in job sharing roles.

There are 123,000 people in a job share role in the UK, and the letter reasoned a reduction in NI would incentivise employers to introduce job sharing roles by eliminating the associated cost that can be seen as prohibitive.

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An uptake in job sharing could support employees who had to reduce their hours during the pandemic and in turn, take a voluntary pay cut. 

Working mothers were 1.5 times more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs since the start of lockdown and a third have reduced their hours due to a lack of childcare during this time.

Job sharing, a form of flexible working, would split one role between two people, and could offer more opportunities for promotion than traditional part-time work.

MPs Margaret Hodge and Caroline Nokes, who support the reduced cost of job sharing, argued this would be particularly beneficial for working parents or carers with commitments that prevent them from undertaking full-time work.

The letter was headed by women empowerment group, Empower, and argued job sharing promotes a healthy work/life balance for employees and helps to close the gender pay gap that has widened due to the pandemic.

Empower said an increased uptake in job sharing would benefit working women, men, parents, carers and their employers.

Post-COVID, the majority of workers will be seeking job flexibility, as 70% of employees said flexible working makes a job more attractive to them, according to research by the CIPD.

Jacqui Smith, chair of Empower, said an uptake in job sharing in the UK could encourage employees to continue their careers, especially working mothers.  

She said: “The pandemic has disproportionately affected women since it began, and many mothers were faced with an increase in responsibilities outside of their full-time employment.

“Job sharing is the solution to many of the issues working mothers face, enabling a work/life balance while retaining women in senior positions with equal access to career progression.”

Smith said businesses need a financial incentive to offer staff job sharing opportunities.

“The government must now facilitate job sharing to become a mainstream working practice by introducing cost incentives, considering the needs of working parents in their post-COVID recovery plan.”