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Flexible working​

Flexible working can be arranged informally with your line manager, or more formally, which involves an amendment to your contract.

All members of staff have a right to request flexible working (part-time, working from home, etc.) provided they have worked for the employer for 26 weeks continuously and have not made another application during the past 12 months. The government recommends that requests to work part-time are made as soon as possible to allow the employer time to consider any possible issues arising. NDCN is not obliged to concede to your request but is obliged to present an argument to support the final decision.

The University support a number of flexible and home working initiatives. See in particular more information about the Nine Day Fortnight​. Please feel free to contact for a confidential discussion about your plans.

Returning to work after a period of family leave

After a period of parental leave, you may wish to explore with your line manager/PI and HR the possibility of working flexibly (part-time, compressed hours, working from home, etc). Flexible working is encouraged at all levels within NDCN to fit around family commitments.​

Returning to research

There are special issues surrounding career breaks for scientists - we can't simply arrange for someone to "cover" for us and we can quickly lose touch with rapidly changing fields. However, career breaks can also be an opportunity to pause for thought and maybe move your research in new directions.  

The Daphne Jackson Trust is a charity dedicated to returning talented scientists to careers after a break of two years of more. 

Parental Leave

Parental leave is a right to take time off work to look after a child or make arrangements for the child's welfare. Parents can use it to spend more time with children and strike a better balance between their work and family commitments. It might be used to:

  • accompany a child during a stay in hospital
  • check out new schools
  • settle a child into new childcare arrangements
  • enable the family to spend more time together (e.g. taking the child to stay with grandparents)
If you have been an employee continuously for at least a year and have a child under 18 years of age (or you have acquired formal parental responsibility for a child who is under 18 years old), you have a statutory right to up to 18 weeks a year unpaid leave

Parental leave is an individual right and cannot be transferred between parents.

Childcare provision


The University has four nurseries in Oxford and has subsidized places at other nurseries in and around Oxford.

The waiting list for university nurseries is very long. Everyone advises getting on the waiting list as soon as you or your partner gets pregnant. All applications are kept confidential; you can apply for a nursery place before you tell the Department of your or your partner's pregnancy. Childcare services offers information and contacts.

Due to the very long waiting list for University nurseries, we suggest that you have an alternative plan just in case you don't get a University nursery place when you want to return to work.

Other sources of information on childcare:

Childcare can be expensive; the University offers two schemes which help parents save tax and national insurance on their childcare costs:


Oxfordshire County Council offers information about applying for a place at a local school.
The OFSTED website offers information about standards at your local school.

If you are interested in private schools you must contact them individually. There can be long waiting lists. A number of them have nurseries for children aged around three years.

School holidays

The school holidays are long and no matter how much annual leave you are entitled to you will never cover them. The University works in partnership with playscheme providers  to support families during the school holiday periods:
The Childcare Voucher Scheme can be used at the Oxford Active and Create holiday playschemes.