Job Sharing FAQ


Why do we need job sharing in federal politics?

The 47th Parliament of Australia is more diverse than ever before, but it is still not truly representative of the Australian population:

  • 56% of the Parliament is male, the average age is 51 – the average Australian is a woman aged between 30 – 39.
  • Only 6.6% of federal Members of Parliament claim a non-European ancestry – compared to 23% of the Australian public.
  • There is only one member of parliament with a visible disability – one third of Australians identify as having a disability.

The current system is only set up for certain types of people.

It requires unpredictable and long hours, and travel to Canberra for 22 weeks of the year. For many women, people with disabilities, people from regional and rural communities, carers and anyone else for whom full-time work is not an option these demands make the role impossible.

Job sharing is a tried and effective way of broadening the talent pool for senior leadership positions. It is time for it to be a part of Parliament as well.

The practice has been in place in the public and private sector for decades, where it has worked well in senior positions.

What are the benefits?
  • For Parliament/ the electorate/ the public:
    • Job sharing would make Parliament much more representative because it would enable a far wider range of voices, including more women, carers, disabled people, people from regional and remote parts of our country open to the idea of participating in politics.
    • With two people in the role, there will be two sets of skills, knowledge and perspectives on the issues that affect Australia and Australians – two for the price of one.
    • Job sharing also provides consistent and readily available holiday and sickness cover, which a full-time member does not have.
    • Many job sharers have pointed to greater productivity due to the sense of responsibility felt by a worker toward their job-share partner.
  • For the job sharers:
    • Because job share partners enjoy the benefits of a full time role, with the corresponding level of responsibility and the security of a permanent position, it allows people to choose a flexible role for whatever reason without sacrificing or postponing career aspirations.
    • Given 58% of women in the private sector currently work on a part time or casual basis, job sharing will especially create opportunities for women to enter politics. 
    • Job sharing also provides coverage of a full-time role across the entire working week which allows the job sharers to truly work part-time, unlike part-time roles which often have working hour creep.
Is this just about working less? Or are there other benefits?

The current Labor government has committed to being the best government in the world for gender equality and to making Parliament House a family friendly workplace. Allowing two people to run as a job sharing candidate is one way to demonstrate it is open to creating the structural changes to do both of these things.

It is also an opportunity to show that there are different ways of exercising power. Job sharing is about a style of leadership driven by shared wins and challenges, which is different to the traditional single person approach to politics. This is an opportunity for Parliament to lead from the top in demonstrating that it is open to new, more inclusive forms of leadership.

Can you be a politician if you don’t want to commit to the role 100%?

This isn’t about hard work or committing to a role 100% of the time.  Being a politician is a 24/7 role. To be the best possible representative for your community, you need to be willing to be always on, always available and willing to travel to Canberra 22 weeks a year. 

This doesn’t reflect the lives of many Australians.

This is not only true for parents of young children, but also people with disabilities, people from regional or rural communities or people who want to maintain work in another discipline while serving their community.

We believe we will be better representatives for the people of Higgins if we are able to fully commit to the role while working, then take time for the other aspects of our lives when not working. 

We also believe it will mean we will bring more energy, more experience, more independent thought to the role. 

Will this increase representation of women in politics?

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women currently make up 51% of the workforce, but 58% of women in the workforce work in part-time or casual roles.

Job sharing allows part-time workers to effectively take on a full-time role – and all the benefits of a full-time role including career progression – without sacrificing their caring responsibilities. In this way, we believe it will increase the representation of women in politics.

Couldn’t this be achieved with increased flexibility or other measures to reduce hours or reduce time in Canberra, e.g. proxy voting or voting by video?

We are advocating for job sharing as one measure – not the measure.

Allowing the participation of a job sharing candidate should be done in combination with other measures that are proven to improve conditions, such as proxy voting or participation by video conference.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that some of the measures adopted, such as family friendly hours, have not improved conditions for many members of Parliament and indeed for members of the Senate, have only increased the amount of time they spend away from their families.


What is job sharing?

Job sharing involves two or more part-time employees sharing responsibility for one full-time job.

Job sharing has traditionally involved a partnership between two employees at the same level of seniority, sharing the equivalent of a full-time salary for a role.

However, job sharing arrangements can differ according to how the two job sharers decided to split the role and schedule:

  • In some arrangements, the role is split by tasks, in others the role is split by time.
  • Time splits also vary, from 50:50 to 80:20 to 60:60 with an overlapping day.
How will this work?

Our proposal is that the two people would work one week on, one week off, with a handover at the end of each week.  

The handover would be systematised to ensure a smooth transition.

Technology will also be used to support this such as a shared email address, shared diaries etc, shared project management system.

We have a plan in place to be effective and efficient joint members for Higgins. We are confident that we can bring two sets of experience, two minds, two perspectives to the role.

What will happen if one person could no longer do the job or no longer wanted to do the job?

If one person needed to step down it will be clearly communicated it will be taken as both people stepping down and a by-election will be called.

The same will apply if there was an a situation in which one person was to fall ill or die, be found guilty of a crime or in become, in some other way outside of their control, unable to continue in the role.

How will the shared member vote?

The two people will be one member. They will have one vote and one voice. Whoever is sitting in Parliament on the week the vote is called will cast the vote.

As with political parties, the two people would discuss key issues and legislation and come to an agreement on how to vote.

The assumption is that two people wouldn’t agree to run together as a job sharing candidate if they didn’t align on key values. However, in the rare event of a disagreement there will be a deadlock mechanism in place.

How will you deal with differences in opinion? What if you disagree? Wouldn’t you spend an inordinate amount of time making decisions?

We are running together because we have fundamentally the same values and core beliefs about how this country should be run. We have the same concerns about our future, and we are aligned on key issue areas.

Every major decision will be made jointly by the two of us and clearly discussed and thought through and decided on the basis of what’s best for this community.

Where we disagree, we will discuss and debate and come to an agreement between the two of us and we will have a process for having these discussions in an organised way. This process will include following both our values, and our decision making matrix, which includes consultation with key stakeholders, from policy experts to the community, where appropriate. The ultimate dispute resolution mechanism will be that decisions will be made by the person working that week and the other person will stand by those decisions.

In many ways, there are real benefits to having two people thinking through key issues.

Could you continue to work outside your work as an MP? (i.e. work on your week off)

Yes, job sharing would enable the possibility for paid or unpaid work outside the MP role as long as it did not contravene any Parliamentary rules around conflicts of interest.

Is it legal?

We are being advised by one of the foremost constitutional law experts in the country, Professor Kim Rubenstein.

Her advice is that there are no legal barriers to the inclusion of two people as one candidate in either the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act or the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918:

  • Section 163 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act simply describes the characteristics that would make a person eligible for nomination. It does not specifically state that the job must be done by one person or that “one member” refers to one person.
  • Part III of the Australian Constitution sets out that the number of members of the House of Representatives can be altered as necessary to accurately represent constituents, without specifying a particular number of members per seat.
  • Section 34 of the Constitution places only two limitations on eligibility for selection as a member of the House of Representatives – that one be 21 and that one be a citizen of Australia.
  • There is also an argument to be made that if Section 163 of the Electoral Act was interpreted to disallow joint nomination for election to Parliament, this would discriminate against women and all potential candidates who are unable to work full-time due to caring responsibilities or health requirements, contrary to Section 5(2) of the The Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
  • Currently, the only possible barrier to two people running to represent the same electorate is that previous candidate nomination forms for the House of Representatives and the Senate in the federal election only allowed space for the entry of the name of one candidate. This means candidates have not nominated in job share arrangements which has limited candidate diversity. We are proposing that the candidate nomination form be updated to enable two people’s names to be entered as ‘the candidate’.
Will it cost more?

No. The salary and entitlements for a MP would be split exactly down the middle.

Any potential additional costs, such as IT costs and supplies for each member would come out of the office’s staff budget.

Wouldn’t it be two sets of travel expenses? For example if you both had to travel to Canberra in one sitting week?

No, given the intention to work alternate weeks, only one person would travel for any sitting week.

How will you deal with liability / accountability if there are two members?

Like in a corporation, for actions of the office, liability will be held by the office. For criminal actions, liability will be held by the individual. 

Any political or administrative decisions made by the Member will be considered decisions made by the office and therefore liability would be jointly held by both people.

Any criminal or corrupt actions conducted by an individual will be the liability of that person.

Has this ever been done before anywhere else?

Job sharing in political roles has been explored in a number of other countries, including England, Scotland and Wales.

However, as far as we are aware, it has not been successfully implemented in any other country. If the Albanese Government was to change the AEC nomination form to allow two people to run for one seat, it would be a world first, making Australia a world leader in driving diversity in political leadership.