Parents and Carers Hub

The Department is actively promoting a family-friendly environment and encourages a good work-life balance whether you have family or caring responsibilities or not, irrespective of your gender. As part of this inclusive approach, the Department offers part time and flexible working policies, as well as University policies on family leave (maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave), allowing childcare and other caring responsibilities to be planned and managed effectively.

The intention of this page is to provide you with links to all the information and resources in one place, which may be useful to you if you are considering starting a family, are expecting, are new parents or have children of any age or if you are a carer. 


Maternity Leave

Shared Parental Leave

Adoption Leave

Unpaid Parental Leave

Paternity Leave

All family leave policies

If you are planning for a family, please contact the departmental HR manager for further information on the process for taking the relevant type of family leave. As most of these schemes require adequate notice in order to be eligible, please do speak to the HR Manager at the earliest opportunity.

Exposure to certain chemicals and radiation such as X-rays can be harmful to developing babies, particularly in the very early stages of pregnancy and when mothers are breast feeding. The department will therefore arrange for a full risk assessment to be completed for expectant mothers. Further details on departmental safety can be found here

Information for parents – Whether you are planning to start a family, are expecting a child or already have children, the University has a range of family-friendly benefits.

You may wish to keep in touch with you whilst on leave so you know of any changes or developments that take place whilst you are away. Some staff have said they have found this helps them to feel more connected on their return to work.

KIT days – provides details about the keeping in touch days, your entitlements and payments.

Returning to work after a period of family leave can be daunting as it is common to feel ‘out of touch’ after even relatively short periods of absence. It can be very helpful to have a meeting with your line manager and/or HR team when you are planning your return to work after a period of leave. It is a good opportunity to talk about your options and the support mechanisms available.

These resources are in place to help the transition back into work. This is particularly important for research staff whose jobs can’t be 'covered' in the same way by someone else while they are on leave.

Flexible working – Flexible working is encouraged wherever operationally possible at all levels within the Materials Department. This could be on a temporary or permanent basis.

Returning Carers Fund – The Returning Carers’ Fund is a small grants scheme intended to support the return to research of women and men who have taken a break of at least six months for caring responsibilities to help them to re-establish their research careers.

The Daphne Jackson Trust – A charity dedicated to scientists returning to work after a career break.

The Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowships – To support excellent scientists at the early stages of their career. These are specifically aimed at researchers who require flexible working due to circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues. Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

My Family Care is the UK’s leading provider of family-friendly benefits offering a range of services to help employers support their working parents and carers. My Family Care is a benefit the University provides for all employees, offering access to emergency back-up childcare and adultcare, a ‘speak to an expert’ phone line and a wide range of guides and webinars through a website called the Work + Family space. Access to the services, phone lines and web guidance is free for University employees, but you will need to meet the costs of any care that you book. For more details please see the Personnel Services website page.

My Family Care’s Work+Family space website is a subscription service, so to access the services you need to register. To authenticate that you are an eligible employee you need to provide your SSO username (in the form dept1234) and your employee number, from your payslip. You only need to do this once, after which you can create a personal log-in. To register please click on My Family Care.

Childcare Services - Includes information on nurseries, salary sacrifice scheme, childcare vouchers, tax free childcare and holiday play schemes.

University Nurseries - Includes information on University nurseries, applications, visits and allocation procedures. Staff who have used the University Nurseries recommend that, if you would like to use one of these nurseries, to get your name down whilst you are pregnant, or at the earliest opportunity, as the waiting lists are long.

Every two years the University’s Childcare Services allows departments to sponsor up to six priority places on the nursery waiting list. This enables us to nominate individual members of staff for a priority place, which does not guarantee a nursery place, but improves their position on the waiting list.  Staff should apply for a nursery place as early as possible and by the time it is needed should be around the top of the list.  At that stage we can review their position compared with other new starters who have not been able to join the waiting list earlier, and allocate places as appropriate.  In this way we help as many staff as possible and also support recruitment to the Department.  Once a place is allocated it stays with that person throughout the nursery placement, and cannot be moved to anyone else. 

Our participation in the scheme forms part of our Athena SWAN action plan and demonstrates our commitment to supporting recruitment and retention, and enabling individuals to continue with their academic or professional development goals.

Some of the income generated by the scheme is used by the University to subsidise nursery fees for students, and other funds are used towards development activities to increase and enhance nursery provision at the University.     

Please visit the Childcare Services website for further information.

Additional Childcare - The University of Oxford has links with a number of organisations across the city, from babysitting services to school holiday and sports camps.

Emergency child and adult care - It can be extremely difficult when your childcare arrangements break down, for whatever reason. We understand how challenging this can be. My Family Care offers access to emergency back-up childcare and adultcare, please see above for details of My Family Care. 

Support for carers - Information about the schemes available to help staff who have caring responsibilities.

The Department of Materials encourages its academic, research and administrative staff to speak openly about life inside and outside work. In our case studies, some of our staff candidly discuss their careers and how they’ve managed to balance work, home, leisure time and family life with their academic and professional ambitions.

Family-friendly policies – The Department of Materials is actively promoting the provision of a family-friendly working environment. The University of Oxford recognises the demands on work-life balance and offers a range of family-friendly policies and practices.

Flexible working – Flexible working is encouraged wherever operationally possible at all levels within the Materials Department. This could be on a temporary or permanent basis.

Materials' Athena SWAN – Find out about Athena SWAN within Materials, our initiatives and plans.

New to the UK childcare & schooling – For new members of staff who are coming to work for the University from overseas to help you with many practical issues, including information about schools and doctors.

Oxfordshire Family Information Services – For a wide breadth of information, resources and support available in and around Oxford to parents and carers.