Equality, diversity and inclusion support - EPSRC

As a funder of research, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is committed to attracting the best potential researchers from a diverse population into research careers. The long term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent.

Career breaks and flexible working

It is important that researchers and their research teams are able to work flexibly and in a way that meets their personal circumstances.

We are committed to supporting the research community and offer a range of flexible options that lets applicants tailor the support they need to fit their research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns.

We welcome applications from academics who jobshare, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.

When requesting support for flexible working applicants do not have to describe the personal circumstances that result in the need for this support, rather they should describe the support required.

Find out more about including requests for flexible working in your proposal.

Grant maintenance for flexible working

EPSRC is aware that personal circumstances of the principal investigator (PI) or the wider research team may change during the lifetime of a research grant or fellowship.

EPSRC wants to highlight the flexibility within these awards that allows for the repurposing of directly incurred costs. This flexibility can be used to cover costs associated with flexible working of either the PI or their team.

Directly incurred costs can be repurposed provided that this is limited to the transfer of funds between fund headings within and between directly incurred costs and exceptions.  Transfer of funds into or out of equipment headings is not permitted.

Examples of flexible support

The following are examples of the type of flexible support that can be accessed either by requesting it as part of a research grant proposal or through using the flexibility within an existing award.

Additional care costs

Investigators or members of their team can access support for cost over and above standard care arrangements when they need to participate in specific activities related to the grant such as visits, meetings, conferences and overseas travel.

This applies where the activities cannot be covered by the employer.

Different working patterns

Changes of working pattern during a research grant can be supported using the flexibilities within the award, including part time working and any additional recruitment of staff needed to enable this change.

Reduction in PI time spent on a grant can be accommodated by the other investigators contributing more time or by extending the grant itself.

Part-time and jobshare fellowships

Fellowships can be applied for on a part-time basis at a minimum of 50% full time equivalent (FTE) or as a job-share. Fellows can also request for an existing fellowship to be amended to accommodate part-time working.

Unexpected changes in circumstances

If a team member becomes unable to physically carry out their experiments due to a change in health circumstances, funds can be repurposed to hire another team member to carry out these experiments for them.

Flexible working schemes

EPSRC co-sponsor the following schemes:

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave

EPSRC provides support to students and grant holders with parental responsibilities.

See the terms and conditions for research grants to advise these members of the research community.

Students with disabilities

We provide additional financial support to students with disabilities if they incur additional expenses during their training because of their disability.

Find out more about the disabled students’ allowance.

Partnering with other organisations

We partner with organisations that further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education including Women into Science and Engineering (WISE).

Support for carers

The following guidelines highlight the support available to researchers with caring responsibilities.

Participation in EPSRC activities

Where participation in an EPSRC activity would involve additional care requirements, our expectation is that your employer is approached in the first instance to meet these costs. If your employer is unable to cover these additional costs then EPSRC may reimburse reasonable extra costs incurred. Making arrangements for the care to be provided is the responsibility of the carer themselves.

Additional care requirements could occur if you are required to:

  • participate in events on what would normally be a non-working day
  • work extended hours on a normal working day
  • attend meetings with overnight stays
  • travel overseas.

People invited to EPSRC events should check with the event organiser and confirm what costs can be reimbursed prior to attendance. Claims should be made using a non-employee expenses claim form.

Claimants should note that any tax liability is their own responsibility. Events may include meetings, workshops, sandpits and peer review interview panels.

EPSRC is unable to reimburse any costs that form part of someone’s normal care arrangements.

Support available on EPSRC grants

EPSRC allows applicants for funding to request additional care costs as part of research grant proposals. These may cover visits, meetings and overseas travel undertaken as part of the supported research activity.

Costs should be requested via the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system application and fully justified in the justification of resources.

Find out more about the costs we fund.

Carer support contact

Contact the EPSRC Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and people team for help with care support questions or issues.

Email: inclusionmatters@epsrc.ukri.org

Care frequently asked questions

Applications for new grants

In my grant application, what can I apply for in relation to care costs?

Costs over and above your standard care arrangements may be considered as part of EPSRC proposals. The expectation is that your employer is approached in the first instance. If your employer is unable to cover these additional costs then you may request reasonable extra costs incurred as part of a grant application.

The reasons these have been requested must be explained as part of the justification of resources. EPSRC will not consider covering any costs that form part of someone’s normal care arrangements.

Costs associated with requirements to travel to conferences or other events may be requested – for example, additional care at home. If you need to travel with your child you can ask for travel, subsistence, additional childcare, and visa costs.

Current EPSRC grant holders

I already have EPSRC grant funding. Can I claim care costs?

You may use your existing travel and subsistence allocation and/or vire between headings within the directly incurred costs to cover any care costs over and above your standard care arrangements.

Additional grant funding will not be provided. EPSRC will not consider covering any costs that form part of someone’s standard care arrangements.

This applies to grant holders:

  • who may need to travel to events or conferences which require overnight stays – for example, if additional care provision is required at home
  • who may need to travel overseas with their child (in this case visa costs could also be included)
  • whose circumstances have changed since the grant was awarded.

Is it possible to change staff working hours on a grant if an individual’s circumstances change – for example, to change from full time to part time working?

It is possible for staff to change from full time to part time during the grant. EPSRC would expect the university to manage this change as part of their normal employment obligations. Additional staff may be recruited, using the EPSRC funding, to provide additional resource. If this staffing change may result in the objectives of the grant not being achieved by the end date then EPSRC may consider extending the grant. Grant holders are advised to discuss specific cases with a member of EPSRC staff.

If the change in circumstance is for one of the investigators then we would usually expect the other investigators to contribute more time to the grant to make up for this. If the grant only has a principal investigator, EPSRC may consider extending the grant. Grant holders are advised to discuss specific cases with a member of EPSRC staff.

Workshops and events organised by EPSRC

Can I bring my child to an EPSRC event?

In principle yes – however in order to participate fully, you are requested to arrange for childcare during the event. Making arrangements for the care to be provided is the responsibility of the carer themselves.

Please contact the event organiser at an early stage for further information.

I am currently on maternity or paternity leave. Can I bring my baby to the event?

In principle yes – however in order to participate fully, you are requested to arrange for childcare during the event. Making arrangements for the care to be provided is the responsibility of the carer themselves.

Please contact the event organiser at an early stage for further information.

I am breastfeeding my child. Can I bring my child and partner along for the duration of the event?

In principle yes – people invited to EPSRC events should contact the event organiser at an early stage before the event to discuss what facilities are available and confirm what costs can be reimbursed.

Can I bring additional support to an event?

Yes, please contact the event organiser as soon as possible at an early stage before the event to discuss what arrangements could be made.

Will EPSRC arrange childcare whilst I am at an event I have been invited to?

EPSRC is unable to arrange this on your behalf. Making arrangements for childcare is the responsibility of the carer themselves.

EPSRC peer review panel meetings

I have been invited to sit on an EPSRC peer review panel. Can I claim care costs?

EPSRC will reimburse additional care costs which are incurred when sitting on an EPSRC panel. Only those costs over and above your standard care arrangements should be claimed.

Claims should be made using a non-employee expenses claim form alongside any other travel and subsistence (claimants should note that any tax liability is their own responsibility).

Please speak to the EPSRC panel contact before the meeting to confirm what costs can be reimbursed.

I have been invited to attend an interview for an EPSRC grant proposal. Can I claim care costs?

If you have been invited to attend an interview by EPSRC we may be able to reimburse costs over and above your standard care arrangements. The expectation is that your employer is approached in the first instance.

If your employer is unable to cover these additional costs then please approach the EPSRC panel contact at an early stage to discuss your specific case.

EPSRC will not consider covering any costs that form part of someone’s normal care arrangements.

I have been invited to attend an interview for an EPSRC grant proposal I submitted. I am unable to travel due to my care commitments, can I be interviewed remotely?

In some circumstances EPSRC may be able to conduct peer review interviews by video or teleconference. Please approach the EPSRC panel contact at an early stage to discuss your specific case and what arrangements could be made.

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