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 job share, 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.
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 job share 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:
- Daphne Jackson Trust fellowships to help return researchers to their careers after a break of 2 or more years
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.
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.
Carer support contact
Contact the EPSRC Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and people team for help with care support questions or issues.