Job sharing for MP’s

Dr Peter Jepson has given us permission to re-publish this article on Great British Politics. He is the editor of LawsBlog.co.uk, a UK based blog that's really worth a read. You can see the article in its original form on his site

There are reports that returning officers have rejected nomination papers for candidates who wished to job share as an elected Member of Parliament.

For my part, I do not see why a Member of Parliament could not work on a job share basis. Indeed, many MP’s continue to work as Directors while also serving as MP’s. It follows that they too could be described as work sharing MP’s.

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.

Liberal Democrat report expressed support for Job Sharing for MP’s. The report said: “Job-share candidates would stand on a joint ticket and voters would choose whether or not to vote for them in the same way they decide whether or not to vote for any other candidate.”

In April 2015, the Green Party had hoped to field two General Election candidates in Basingstoke, who, if elected, would then go on to share the job of representing the constituency. Reports indicate that Sarah Cope, a mother with two young children, and Clare Phipps, who has a disability which prevents her working full time, would have a single vote in the Commons. The plan by the Green Party was dropped because there is no mechanism for a joint candidature. Their request was turned down by the Electoral Returning Officer. The problem for the returning officer being that electoral law only provides for one person to be elected for a particular constituency.

Mrs Cope is reported to having said: “Allowing job-share MPs would open up Parliament to a much more diverse group of people, including more women, those with childcare and other caring responsibilities and those with disabilities.”

Surely, job sharing is something that should command widespread support across all political parties. Indeed, Parliament should lead by example and encourage all employers to embrace job sharing. During the last Parliament, Disability Politics UK worked with a number of MP’s to promote the idea of job sharing. MP’s of all political persuasion supported a debate in the House of Commons promoted by John McDonnell MP (no vote was taken). Even the Speakers wife, Sally Bercow, supported calls for job sharing MP’s.

However, it must surely be feasible for a sitting MP to decide (once elected) that they would be happy to job share with a person of their choosing. Logically, the sitting MP would almost certainly wish to job share with someone of a similar political persuasion. So, for example, a Conservative MP would not likely choose to job share with a Labour MP.

Parliament needs to improve and modernise its image. All party support, and action, on job sharing would signify a step towards such a image change.