MRC flexible working practices - MRC

MRC provides flexibility in its range of awards that can help support you if you’re:

  • taking time off for a career break, maternity or paternity leave, sickness or for other reasons
  • carrying out research overseas, at a second centre in the UK or within industry
  • transferring your fellowship to another organisation.

If you’ve had a less traditional career path or your career progression has been slower for some reason, you can now apply for MRC funding regardless of how many years of post-doctoral experience you’ve had.

The MRC is committed to training and developing the next generation of research leaders from a diverse population. It is a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, which is an agreement to improve the employment and support for researchers and research careers in higher education in the UK.

Please see the UKRI statement of expectations for research fellowships and future research leaders.

Career breaks

You can apply for any MRC fellowship after returning to research after a career break, so long as you meet the fellowship’s eligibility criteria.

Your track record will be taken into consideration if you’re applying for MRC funding and the review panel will take into account how you’ve spent time outside the active research environment, including through career breaks or flexible working. You should state clearly in your application any substantial time you’ve spent away from research. The review panel will only use this information to make appropriate adjustments when assessing your track record, productivity and career progression.

For further guidance see the MRC publication on career breaks and flexible working.

Fellowships for researchers returning from a career break

If you’re returning to research after a career break or plan to do so, consider applying for a Daphne Jackson Trust fellowship. This fellowship gives returning researchers an opportunity to re-establish their scientific credentials while retraining and renewing their research skills.

The MRC sponsors at least two Daphne Jackson fellows a year. For more information, search the UKRI funding finder and see the Daphne Jackson Trust website.

Part-time working

You can apply to take up any MRC fellowship on a part-time basis, so long as you meet the fellowship’s eligibility criteria. This can allow you to combine your research with personal responsibilities. Fellows can also request for an existing fellowship to be amended to accommodate part-time working.

If you are a prospective applicant and would like further information on applying for a part-time award, please see the MRC’s fellowship handbook for applicants. If you are a current MRC fellow and would like further information on continuing your award on a part-time basis, see the UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave

As an MRC fellow you can take any of these forms of leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of your employment. You can also ask for your fellowship to be paused while you’re absent. When you return from leave you can also opt to continue the fellowship on a part-time basis so you can meet caring responsibilities. For further details, see the UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Sick leave

As an MRC fellow you can take sick leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of your research organisation. You can also ask for your fellowship to be paused while you’re absent. For further details, see the UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Doing research overseas, at a second UK centre, or in industry

Your MRC fellowship supports 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 fellowship handbook for applicants.

Last updated: 17 November 2021

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