Work Share is a scheme found in many countries designed to deal with the decline in the availability of work resulting from widespread automation. It is most widespread in the civil service and nationalised industries but is often also found in large corporations and is sometimes organised by trade unions. There are also registration schemes for smaller employers. The general idea is that many full time jobs are registered on a national database with the characteristics of the job description carefully formalised. This enables certain jobs to be divided into tasks which can be equally allocated to different locations and people in a more sophisticated version of job sharing. This means that absolute unemployment is lower than it would otherwise be, but the average working week is also much shorter at around 22 hours. Britain pioneered the system, having started it in 1988.


The main problem with the scheme seems to be bureaucracy and inefficiency. It has been established that two people working a 22 hour week are usually not as productive as one person working a 44 hour week at the same job. The system is also quite slow and leads to confusion, and many people are consequently underemployed while still being paid for the time they are officially employed. Smaller employers also have difficulty accessing the scheme and in some cases administration proves to be excessively expensive and wasteful but also imposed in some areas of employment by law, meaning that entrepreneurial activity can be difficult.

See also

Social Wage

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