Skills & careers

Flexible working policies

The MRC is committed to training and developing the next generation of research leaders from a diverse population. We recognise that different people will make different choices in pursuing a research career and we actively support this by providing flexibility in the range of awards offered to ensure a fair funding system.

We are taking a fresh approach to supporting careers by removing eligibility criteria based on years of post-doctoral experience. This will allow for variations in career paths, recognising that the speed of career progression can be affected by factors unrelated to a person’s scientific potential.

We are a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and we expect both organisations and MRC fellows to adopt the principles of the Research Councils UK Statement of Expectations for Research Fellowships and Future Research Leaders

Career breaks

Ian Douglas“I’ve had a slightly unconventional career path. I spent eight years out of academia and came back, which was not as easy as it could be. But it’s been invaluable.”

Read Ian Douglas' full career profile
 

All MRC fellowships are open to individuals returning to research following a career break. 

The assessment of MRC funding applications frequently involves appraisal of the applicant’s track record. In making this appraisal, review panels take into account time spent outside the active research environment, whether through career breaks or flexible working.

Applicants should make clear any substantive periods of absence from research within their application. Details of career breaks or flexible working will only be used to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual’s track record, productivity and career progression.

For further guidance please see MRC guidance on Career Breaks and Flexible Working (PDF, 40KB).

MRC sponsored Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowships provide an opportunity for postdoctoral scientists to recommence a scientific research career after a continuous break of at least two years, and offer the opportunity to undertake refresher or further training. MRC sponsored fellows include those who have returned to research after taking a break for family commitments and those who have worked outside of research.

Part-time working

Bindi Brook“There are very few jobs in the world that people can honestly say they love doing. But being a researcher is one of them.”

Read Bindi Brook's full career profile
 

The MRC is very supportive of applicants who may wish to combine their research with personal or domestic responsibilities and we therefore offer all fellowships on a part-time basis. If you are a prospective applicant and would like further information on applying for a part-time award, please see the MRC’s Guidance for Fellowship Applicants. If you are a current MRC fellow and would like further information on continuing your award on a part-time basis, please see the RCUK Terms and Conditions of Grants.

Maternity/paternity/adoption/parental leave and pay

All MRC Fellows are entitled to take maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment. Full consideration will be given to requests for fellowships to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Fellow and the fellowship then extended upon their return. As described above, the fellowship may then be continued on a part-time basis to allow the Fellow to meet caring responsibilities. For further information, please see the RCUK Terms and Conditions of Grants.

Sick leave

All MRC Fellows are entitled to take sick leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of their research organisation. Full consideration will be given to requests for fellowships to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Fellow and the fellowship then extended upon their return. For further information, please see the RCUK Terms and Conditions of Grants.

Other Extensions to fellowships

MRC fellowships may also be extended for up to twelve months to cover breaks or delays in the appointment of staff and may also be requested for exceptional unforeseen delays. A grant maintenance request should be raised via Je-S for all requests and those Fellows requesting an extension for an exceptional unforeseen delay should contact MRC at PAA@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk to discuss their circumstances before submitting the request. For further information, please see the RCUK Terms and Conditions of Grants and the MRC’s Guidance for Fellowship Applicants.

Carrying out research overseas, at a second UK centre, or within industry

Richard Parker“I would encourage all trainees to take any opportunity to include a period abroad in their fellowship. ”

Read Richard Parker's full career profile
 

All MRC fellowships support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution, or within industry where appropriate for the research project. If the fellowship project includes a period overseas of six months or more, costs for fares, baggage, medical insurance and rent or accommodation will be supported and an overseas living allowance may be requested. Travel costs for a spouse and/or children may also be requested if the family will be accompanying the fellow for the whole period. For further information, please see the MRC’s Guidance for Fellowship Applicants.

Transferring fellowships to another research organisation


All MRC Fellows may request for their fellowship to be transferred to another research organisation so long as the organisation is eligible to hold grants, and is able to provide a suitable environment to enable the project to be successfully completed. All requests must be sent via the Grant Maintenance facility in Je-S. For further information, please see the RCUK Terms and Conditions for Grants.

If, after consulting the relevant guidance, you have any further questions, please contact: RFPD@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk.