Family friendly and flexible working
Case studies, written by staff and students, from the department, describe their experiences of using some of these schemes to enable flexible working for a range of reasons.
We are committed to supporting our staff and students with their responsibilities outside of work. Over the years we have supported individuals with their new arrivals through maternity, paternity and shared parental leave as well as assisting those needing to work flexibly or undertake periods of leave for other reasons.
Our departmental COVID-19 response aimed to take into account the additional challenges faced by those with additional caring responsibilities as well as those directly affected by the disease itself. Following the first lockdown in March 2020, the Department implemented a clear policy of ‘do what you can, when you can’ to accommodate the change of circumstances for staff working remotely.
Staff were encouraged to declare any issues arising from the lockdown so that workloads could be actively reduced. This message and action was re-emphasised with the announcement of a 3rd national lockdown in January 2021 and regular drop-in sessions were introduced to provide support for those with caring responsibilities and a forum for issues to be raised and suggestions made.
Imperial College provides a generous package of family leave for all staff and offers a variety of options for students wishing to take parental leave. At both our White City and South Kensington campuses we have a private, bookable nursing room space for both staff and students. For White City nursing room information contact Ingrid Kedissa.
We actively encourage academic staff taking periods of parental leave to apply for an Elsie Widdowson Fellowship which provides funding to enable staff returning from a period of leave to concentrate on their research, relieving them of teaching or administrative duties in order to do so. As a Department, we also extend this support to our fellows. We also provide additional financial support for such staff to use either during or immediately after their leave, which staff can choose how to use, for example for additional support to manage a group during their absence.
To enable those with caring responsibilities to attend scientific meetings and conferences, we support staff and students with applications to both the College Carers Support Fund and the Royal Society of Chemical Grants for Carers.
Flexible working and support for carers and parents
The Department of Chemisty is committed to providing a supportive environment for its staff and students, to enable effective working whilst balancing work and life commitments. The information below aims to provide a brief summary of some of the schemes and opportunities that are available.
Case studies, written by staff and students, from the department, describe their experiences of using some of these schemes to enable flexible working for a range of reasons. Found at the end of this document, these first-hand experiences may offer you some addition insights, tips and advice to help you to navigate around flexible working decisions. Additionally, everyone listed is happy to be contacted if you have any unanswered questions.
The most important message is that if you need help, please ask for it.
Flexible working describes a type of working arrangement which gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work. All employees, not just parents and carers, can request flexible working. Further information can be found on the College HR website.
Please discuss this with your line manager, who will help to advise you on the available options.
Information for parents
Imperial College has created the Parents' Network which aims to provide all the relevant policies and information related to being a parent at Imperial in one place.
It includes information on maternity and paternity leave, risk assessments for pregnant staff members, adoption leave entitlement, shared parental leave entitlement, keeping in touch days, networks and support, returning to work, etc. Additional information for Imperial parent can be found on the Parents' Network website.
You can also drop in to 'Babies and Bumps' coffee mornings to chat to other parents, and a representative from HR to answer any HR-related questions
Elsie Widdowson Fellowship
The Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award provides funding that allows academic staff (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor) to concentrate fully on their research work upon returning from maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave.
The Award enables the Department to relieve the academic of their teaching or administrative duties in order to concentrate fully on their research.
More information can be found on the HR website. (Please see the relevant case studies below, and feel free to contact staff members who are happy to share their applications with you).
The Government's tax-free childcare scheme is available to all Imperial College employees.
More information can be found on the HR website.
Imperial College London has partnered with My Family Care, which is a leading organisation that delivers family friendly solutions (E.g. Emergency childcare, School holiday cover) for staff members.
You will need to register via the My Family Care website.
Early years education
Imperial College has an Early Years education centre which provides childcare and education services to children of Imperial's staff and students, aged between 6 months and 5 years. This is located in Prince's Gardens, South Kensington.
In July 2021 new nursery facilities were opened at the Old Oak Early Years Centre to support the White City and Hammersmith campuses (see more information on the Early Years website).
A dedicated nursing mothers’ room is available at the Molecular Science Research Hub, located in room G26. Mothers who wish to use the room can request and sign out the key from the front reception. Please note that expressed milk can be stored in the fridge in the HoD suite upon request (contact Erika Rosivatz, Ingrid Kedissa, or Chemistry Reception).
Should the nursing room lack anything, such as equipment, that you would find useful, please contact either Ingrid Kedissa or the Co-Directors of EDI in the Department to discuss.
I returned to work while still breastfeeding my 5 month old baby and I was not yet ready to stop breastfeeding. Before returning to the office, the department very kindly set up a private room with a steriliser and nursing chair so I could express. Due to my particular circumstances, I needed to express very regularly, every 2 hours or so, which I was able to do since the nursing room was only a few meters from my desk. Having the nursing room close to my office made the experience much easier than needing to travel to another building, or to Hammersmith Campus which is a 20 minute round trip, every 2 hours. The decision to breastfeed and when to stop is both an emotional and practical one, where the department made my decision to continue much easier by being so accommodating during that time. Dr. Colleen Jackson
Students with children
Please discuss your options with your Course Organiser/ supervisor/ Departmental Senior or PG Tutor as soon as possible. For example, it will be important to run a full risk analysis to determine whether or not there may be any possible adverse effects of the planned activities on your pregnancy and thus is will be important to develop an agreed action plan to mitigate all identified risks. Further information can be found on the Imperial students website.
Information for carers
Imperial College London has created a Carers' Network, which aims to put everything related to being a carer at Imperial in one place. This includes information and guidance that can be accessed via the Carers' Network website.
Imperial College London has partnered with My Family Care, which is a leading organisation that delivers family friendly solutions (E.g. Backup adult and Eldercare) for staff members.
You will need to register via the My Family Care website.