Circular 75/2015, issued in December 2015, supersedes all previous circulars in relation to job sharing arrangements for teachers in recognised primary and post primary schools.
The INTO welcomed the changes to the operation of the scheme, particularly in respect of the improved flexibility for members. Interschool job shares between teachers are still permissible, as is job sharing between colleagues in the same school.
However, a new provision means that a teacher can apply to job share without identifying a partner, with the employer recruiting a fixed term part-time teacher to work the balance of the available hours. This is good news for teachers who wish to job share but have struggled to find a partner.
It will also be possible in exceptional circumstances to apply to commence a job share during the school year until 31 August, with a Board’s approval.
Options for job sharing
As heretofore a primary teacher may apply to share a whole time post. However under circular 75/2015 a teacher can also apply to reduce their hours to 50% of those of a whole-time teacher.
Therefore there will be two options for a job sharing arrangement:
(a) Sharing a whole time post: Two whole time teachers in the same school apply to job share or in the case of interschool job sharing (primary schools only) where two whole time teachers in two different schools apply to job share.
(b) A teacher applies to job share and the employer is willing to recruit a teacher for the balance of the available hours on a specified purpose (fixed term) contract which will terminate at the end of the school year.
Applying to job share during the course of the school year
The minimum period for which a job sharing arrangement may occur is one school year. However the new regulations allow an employer to authorise a job sharing arrangement during the school year. Paragraph 4.2 applies:
In exceptional circumstances an employer may authorise a job sharing arrangement to commence during the course of the school year and terminate not earlier than the end of that sameschool year.
Eligibility to job share
A teacher may apply to job share where he/she
a) is registered with the Teaching Council and
b) will have satisfactorily completed at the end of the school year in which they are applying 12 months of continuous service with the current employer and
c) holds a post for the following school year greater than 50% of a whole time teacher. (I.e.14 hours 10 minutes per week in the case of a Primary teacher or 11 hours per week teaching in the case of a Post Primary teacher).
Principals and Home School Liaison Co-ordinators are not eligible to apply for job sharing.
(Previously in order to be eligible to apply for job sharing a teacher had to have had 2 years’ service in a permanent capacity. They would, also, have had to have completed probation in order to be eligible to job share)
Where an application refers to inter-school job sharing, the principals of both schools should liaise.
Deadline for applications
Prior to the issuing of circular 75/2015 the closing date for job share applications to be received by boards was 1 March. Under the new circular the closing date has been changed to 1 February. The employer must issue a written notice of approval or refusal by 1 March at the latest.
The application form is the appendix to the job share circular, 75/2015.
Provision to withdraw your application to job share
Taking account of the extent of arrangements to be put in place by the employer to cater for a job sharing post, the applicant should not be permitted to withdraw his/her application after 14th April, or from once the replacement teacher's contract has been signed, whichever happens first. This should be included in the notice from the school to the teacher.
Provision to withdraw from a job sharing arrangement in exceptional circumstances
In exceptional circumstances if the applicant can be accommodated within the approved staffing allocation and subject to contractual arrangements, an application for withdrawal from a job sharing scheme and/or an earlier return to full-time employment may be considered by the employer. However, such an application may not be considered beyond 1 November.
Clarity in relation to other employment while job sharing
Job sharing teachers may not
a) engage in any substitute teaching
b) act as a special needs assistant in the school in which he/she is employed or any other school or
c) undertake home tuition hours
It is not permissible for a job sharing teacher to engage in outside employment without the consent of the employer. It shall be a matter for the employer to determine whether or not any such employment is in conflict with their ability to carry out their duties as an employee of the school. If such a conflict is deemed to exist, the approval of the employer shall be withheld.