Fast-food giant McDonald's is trialling a flexible job-share scheme in the UK that allows families working in the same restaurant to swap shifts without notice.
The Family Contract, currently being piloted with seven sets of siblings, might extend across the UK if successful. It applies to staff who have been employed by McDonald's for at least four months and operate at a similar level.
About 1,000 of 67,000 staff at the restaurant chain are family members, and the scheme also embraces step-families and cohabiting or same-sex partners. If successful, it might extend to friends.
McDonald's believes it will benefit students, parents and carers in particular. It hopes the initiative will reduce absenteeism and encourage staff to become fully trained and "rotatable".
Food service consultant Chris Stern said the scheme already happens on an informal basis, particularly in small, remote contract catering sites which employ lots of family members.
"I think it's a terrific idea that would work well with lower-skilled jobs across the industry," he added.
Sean Wheeler, people development director for Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, was also interested in the concept. "I would certainly look at using it if it gives people more flexibility in their working lives," he said.
By Angela Frewin