The Department is committed to providing a family-friendly working environment that takes account as far as possible of people’s childcare and other caring responsibilities. We are also keen to promote a healthy work-life balance. Our initiatives in this area are recognised by our award of Project Juno Champion and Athena Swan Silver status.
As some examples, teaching staff can specify periods in the day where they cannot teach e.g. before 10 am and after 3 pm where they need to collect children from school or childcare. Similarly, the Department operates core hours of 10 am - 4 pm which are the period when Department meetings are held which ensures those with outside responsibilities are able to fully participate. As far as possible, we handle submission of student work electronically allowing people to access it easily remotely. Beyond these initiatives, we encourage a range of flexible working arrangements including:
Job-share or job-split
Term-time only working
An important aspect of the flexible working scheme is the ‘part-time working assurance’. This means staff can request changes to their working hours with the assurance they can return later to a full-time contract. To date, all applications for part-time working have been approved. This includes those where an increase in hours was requested following on from a previous decrease to allow for family commitments.
Dr Richard F L Evans has worked at the University of York in the Department of Physics since 2008 initially as a post doctoral research associate, before gaining a Seagate Lectureship in Computational Physics in October 2015. Richard explains, “I have two young children (Freya, 8 and Thomas, 2) making life at home busy but also incredibly rewarding. During my first PDRA post my wife had our daughter. At that time my line manager was exceptionally accommodating, allowing flexible time off around the birth and the freedom to work flexibly around the demands of a young baby. My parents lived locally which allowed my wife to go back to work part time two days per week and so I was able to continue my full time PDRA post with standard working hours. However, consideration was always made for my family circumstances when arranging conference trips and research meetings working around preschool and childcare arrangements. When we had our second son in 2016 I was a lecturer with growing supervision and teaching responsibilities, and my parents had recently moved away and so were unable to help out with childcare. At the same time my wife wanted to develop her career as a Mortgage advisor and so I made a request for flexible working arrangements where I could work from home for the equivalent of two days per week and at the University for three days from Wednesday to Friday.
Despite the potential impact on colleagues in the department, the Head of Department and management team were very supportive of my request and agreed in a trial basis. My flexible days are mostly spent looking after my son and so my working hours are Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. Due to the dedicated lone working hours I typically focus on preparation and research tasks such as lecture planning, marking, writing research papers, writing grants or programming. These hours have been extremely productive due to the ability to focus exclusively on tasks with few distractions. The other days of the week are compressed in terms of teaching activities, research meetings and PhD student supervision, and so they tend to be much busier days but still sufficient time to cover the requirements of my post. The flexible working arrangements have enabled me to balance a busy academic career and having a young family that would not otherwise have been possible. I get the benefit of dedicated time with my son when he is young while being able to maintain a full time job which enables me to fully engage with a developing academic career.”
Dr Christina (Yue) Wang is a post-doctoral research associate in the department along with her husband Dr Christopher Reardon who is an experimental officer. Together they have had two children, Henry (3) and Harper-Grace now 4 months, both born during their time at York. Christina says, 'I joined the department in 2013 and have taken maternity leave on two occasions. Christina explains, "The first time I took five months off and returned full time, and I am on my second maternity leave now. I am planning to be back full time in July when Harper-Grace is 7 months old. Doing cutting-edge research and wanting to pursue an academic career does mean I can not afford to take a full year off, however, the flexible working arrangement between my supervisor, Prof Thomas Krauss and me has definitely helped in many situations, for example, working from home to compensate the sick days when I have to be off to take care of my children. I couldn't imagine the difficulties of raising young children without this flexible working arrangement".