Work Sharing during the Great Recession

Work Sharing during the Great Recession

New Developments and Beyond

Edited by Jon C. Messenger and Naj Ghosheh

‘Work sharing’ is a labour market instrument devised to distribute a reduced volume of work to the same (or similar) number of workers over a diminished period of working time in order to avoid redundancies. This fascinating and timely study presents the concept and history of work sharing and explores the complexities and trade-offs involved in its use as both a strategy for preserving jobs and a policy for increasing employment.

Chapter 7: Work sharing as a potential policy tool for creating more and better employment: A review of the evidence

Lonnie Golden and Stuart Glosser

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, labour policy


‘Work sharing’, generally, is considered to be any type of policy-induced, downward adjustment of working time. Work sharing falls into two types. One is when it is designed to induce a permanent reduction in the length of work hours among all, or large subsets, of workers, in the form of shorter weekly or annual hours. These reductions may take the form of shortened standard or legal workweeks (hours after which is considered ‘overtime’), hard limits on the duration of workers’ annual, weekly or daily overtime work hours, or annual leave periods or various other forms of paid time off. The second type of work sharing is designed to induce reductions in work hours that may be temporary, including those triggered by economic crises, such as government programmes designed for the purpose of preventing or postponing planned layoffs by employers, to preserve employment or curb increases in unemployment. Such temporary work-sharing measures are usually adopted, or if already in place promoted, during a cyclical downturn, such as the recent global financial crisis and subsequent worldwide recession.

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