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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Work Life

Part-Time Employment and Job Sharing Guide

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The key to achieving family-friendly workplaces in the Federal Government is to make full utilization of all the personnel flexibilities and resources available. As an employer, the Federal Government has long recognized the value of part-time employment. Legislation encouraging part-time employment for Federal employees has been in place since 1978.

Part-time employees are represented across occupational fields, pay plans, grade levels, and agencies. These employees might need or desire to work less than the traditional 40-hour workweek in order to:

  • balance routine and/or unexpected work and family demands;
  • recover from an illness;
  • pursue an education;
  • devote time to a volunteer activity in the community;
  • participate in a special hobby or interest; or
  • make time for themselves.

The use of part-time employment is also beneficial to employers. Offering part-time employment opportunities can:

  • attract or retain highly qualified employees or those with special skills who may not be able to or may not want to work a full-time schedule;
  • serve as a performance incentive;
  • increase employee effectiveness;
  • provide work coverage during recurring workload surges;
  • reduce employment expenditures when employees voluntarily reduce their work schedules; and
  • support agency affirmative action goals.

When employers must staff a position on a full-time basis, job sharing is an option. Job sharing is a form of part-time employment in which one position is filled with two or more part-time employees. Job sharing has added benefits for management. At an agency's discretion and within available resources, each job sharer can work up to 32 hours per week. Agencies also benefit from having the special skills and abilities of two unique individuals.

The Federal Employees Part-time Career Employment Act of 1978 encouraged a greater Federal commitment to utilizing employees who wish to work less than the traditional 40-hour workweek. Recently, President Clinton strengthened that commitment because of his belief that supporting the concerns of family members in the workplace is vital to good government and productivity.

President Clinton's July 11, 1994, memorandum directed executive departments and agencies to establish a program to encourage and support the expansion of flexible family-friendly work arrangements, including the use of career part-time employment and job sharing. On June 21, 1996, the President also directed executive departments and agencies to review their personnel practices and develop a plan of action to utilize flexible policies already in place.

This OPM guide is intended to assist agencies and employees in utilizing part-time employment and job sharing effectively and to the fullest extent possible.

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