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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 "Typical" Permanent Part-Time Employee*

Age 42.9 Years
Length of Service 10.0 Years
Education (Bachelor's or higher) 41.8%
Women 72.4%
Supervisor/Managers 1.7%
*Averages and percentages are based upon 41,857 part-time permanent employees as of March 1999.
Data Source: OPM's Central Personnel Data File (CPDF). Data includes Federal civilian part-time employees in the executive branch but excludes Postal Service employees.

Making a Full-time Job a Part-time Job*

Keep a detailed record of what you do.

  • Could all your most important tasks be done in fewer hours?
  • Could less important tasks be discontinued or done by someone else?
  • Could your job be shared with another part-time employee?

Get information about your salary and benefits.

  • Assess changes to salary, leave earning, health insurance cost, and retirement and life insurance benefits.
  • Could you afford to earn less pay and pay more for insurance?
  • Could you do with less leave and potentially less retirement?

Research policies and practices.

  • Study Governmentwide policies in this guide.
  • Consult your supervisor about your agency's policies and programs.
  • Talk to part-time employees about their experiences.

Devise a strategy.

  • Propose restructuring your full-time job into a part-time job.
  • Find a partner and propose a job sharing arrangement.
  • Apply for any part-time/job sharing vacancies.

Make a written proposal.

  • Propose a schedule and explain how your duties would be handled.
  • Focus on employer's needs, not your own.
  • Suggest a pilot test where managers, clients, and co-workers could assess the arrangement.

*This information was adapted from Flexibility at Work ... 5 Steps To Get You Started, a brochure produced by the Association of Part-time Professionals.

"I had a 3-year-old coming out of diapers and an 83-year-old mother going into them . . . My four years of part-time management employment have been superb. My director has been marvelous, and swears she had more work from me in three days than some others in five."
"Being part-time in the same position that I had as a full-time position has made a total difference in my outlook on work and family life, and also has definitely affected my health. I am much more productive while at work, and I am much happier at home . . ."
Source: Being a Part-time Manager in the U.S. Federal Government: Some Evidence of "Win-Win" Outcomes by Phyllis Hutton Raabe, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of New Orleans
"I need a professional life, but I also want to spend extra time with my family. On a part-time schedule, I get the best of both worlds."

Carol Hallowell, Office of Workforce Relations, U. S. Office of Personnel Management

"Before we started stirring things up, we wanted to understand what was possible. OPM was very helpful. They thought the process through with us, and later used the flexibility of the system to support us. With our senior management in the Department, whether because they could positively relate to our situation or for other reasons, they asked, why not instead of why."

Robert Harris
State Department

"We had worked together before so we were accustomed to working together; we just do it more now. More importantly, it has expanded the dimension of the parenting role for both of us."

Sue Biniaz
State Department

(Robert and Sue not only share a job, they share a marriage. Additionally, they are members of the Senior Executive Service.)

"It's been great. The situation has been nothing but a plus for me and the Department. Joan and Amy are both terrific employees and they're great for this program. Initially, staff were concerned about reporting to two supervisors, but it has worked out well. With the Ethics job, our clients are, for the most part, the senior management. It's important that when inquiries come in, the person representing the position is responsive."

Steven Y. Winnick
Supervisor of Two Job Sharers
Department of Education

"Competition was never an issue between us. It has survived because we had similar priorities. Our priorities in job sharing were to have time with our families."

Nancy Mitchell
Library of Congress

"It takes an extra effort to job share, but the advantages to both the employee and the agency are great."

Kim Moden
Library of Congress

(Nancy and Kim no longer job share. However, their tenure as job sharers lasted 16 years at the Library of Congress.)

"People we work with have been accommodating about our arrangement, which we appreciate. We also try to be flexible, taking calls at home and coming in on our off-days if something is urgent. I recommend to anyone considering job sharing that they find someone who thinks like them and with whom they can communicate well".

Sue Biniaz
State Department

"My overall impression is that part-time managers represent a considerable bargain for the Federal Government. Highly motivated individuals following a part-time schedule on their own initiative tend to accomplish a larger workload than is commensurate with the reduced hours. This is done because the individual has a personal motivation to make the work arrangement succeed and to be viewed as successful while working on a part-time basis. My experience is one of working more effectively and reducing to a minimum the 'down' time that most employees take as a matter of course on the job. . . "
Source: Being a Part-time Manager in the U.S. Federal Government: Some Evidence of "Win-Win" Outcomes by Phyllis Hutton Raabe, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of New Orleans
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