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The University of Reading is part of the childcare voucher scheme (currently closed to new applicants, though existing members of the scheme will continue to receive vouchers).

Tax-Free Childcare

The government has introduced a tax-free childcare scheme (TFC) which has replaced the voucher scheme. The scheme can provide an annual saving of up to £2,000 per child. To benefit you will need to set up an online account and pay your childcare provider through this account.

TFC eligibility: you and your partner

You can usually get Tax-Free Childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • in work – or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
  • each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week – this is £125.28 if you're 25 or over. This earnings limit does not apply if you're self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.

You're not eligible if:

  • your child does not usually live with you
  • the child is your foster child
  • either you or your partner has a taxable income over £100,000
  • you're from outside the EEA and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds.


Some working families may be eligible for further monetary relief in the form of tax credits.

Flexible working arrangements

The University recognises that flexible working may offer working families the support required to balance home-work responsibilities while maintaining professional performance and attainment.

The University will consider all reasonable requests for flexible working. This should be undertaken formally following this procedure. The Head of School will make the final decision in discussion with the relevant line manager.

It is recommended that those wishing to discuss the option to work flexibly, contact their line manager in the first instance to discuss the feasibility and individual circumstances informally.

Staff who regularly work from home should be aware of their responsibilities regarding IT security and safety while working remotely.

Family leave

The University is committed to supporting families to balance work-life responsibilities and improving wellbeing. Learn more about family leave.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave is available for all expectant mothers. Those taking maternity leave must notify their line manager and the relevant HR Partner/Adviser of their pregnancy, the date their baby is due and the date on which they intend to commence maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due. This notification should be in writing. Find out more about the University's maternity leave policy.

The University takes particularly seriously the health and wellbeing of an expectant mother. An expectant mother’s risk assessment form must be completed by the line manager.

Ordinary childbirth/adoption leave (formerly paternity leave)

The University's Childbirth/Adoption Support Leave Scheme (formally known as Paternity leave) provides enhanced benefits to those contained within the statutory provisions.

To qualify for Ordinary Childbirth/Adoption Support Leave, employees must have worked continuously for the University for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due (the qualifying week) or in the case of adoption, the end of the week in which the adopter is notified of being matched with the child.

The following employees who have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing are entitled to a maximum of 2 weeks' pay:

  • the biological father of the child
  • the mother's spouse, civil partner or partner (including same-sex partners)
  • employee of either sex who is adopting a child but is not taking adoption leave
  • employee of either sex who is not taking adoption leave but is becoming a parent through surrogacy and a parental order.

Shared parental leave

Shared parental leave offers both parents the flexibility to jointly and/or separately take leave to bond with/care for the child. It provides parents with the option of sharing up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay if they meet the necessary eligibility criteria. 

Supporting staff returning from family leave

The University is committed to supporting the leave and successful return to work of individuals following periods of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

As such, the University Executive Board decided that Schools and Functions should be fully reimbursed for the salary costs of staff taking maternity, adoption and shared parental leave; and that part of this reimbursement be used to support the staff member on their return to work.

Further information can be accessed. Learn more about this reimbursement policy.

Financial support for PhD students with caring responsibilities

Funding to support participation in conferences, fieldwork or similar is available for PhD students with caring responsibilities. Funding could include, but is not limited to, wrap-around childcare provision for a day visit, overnight care for a dependant, or fares for a child accompanying the applicant to a conference offering childcare provision.

We expect grants to be in the region of £200 to £500, with a maximum of £1,000 but all applications will be considered. To apply for these funds please submit details of the conference/other activity and full costings of the support requested (not more than one side of text).

Limited funds are available, and applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis, while funds last, by the School Director of Postgraduate Research and the Division Heads.

For more information or to apply, contact Dr Chris Jones, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing.

Financial support for other students with caring responsibilities

Undergraduate carers bursary

Are you an undergraduate student in the School of Biological Sciences with significant caring responsibilities? You may be eligible to apply for a one-off bursary (up to a maximum of £500).

The award is intended to be used for supporting the student's academic and career development. This may include (but is not limited to) one-off childcare costs to allow attendance at conferences/workshops/placements/internships or travel costs for the sick relative to accompany the student to a University event/workshop.

In their application, students should clearly outline what they intend to use the bursary for and how it will make a difference to their career development or academic enhancement.

Examples of eligible caring responsibilities:

  • Primary caregiver of a child (as a parent/legal guardian or close relative)
  • Caring for a relative or friend with physical or mental illness
  • Caring for a relative or friend with terminal illness
  • Caring for a relative or friend with drug or alcohol addiction/dependency.

Student's wishing to apply for this bursary should email a completed undergraduate carers bursary application form to the School Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing; Dr Chris Jones. The School DIW team will meet to discuss applications once per semester, so applications will be considered on a rolling basis.


Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing

The School of Biological Sciences is a demographically and culturally diverse place to work and study.

We hold the Athena SWAN Silver Award, which recognises the steps taken to advance gender equality at all levels of our School.


Support for students

Find out how the Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing (DIW) Team support students in the School of Biological Sciences and learn about student development opportunities.  

Support for staff

Learn about support networks and development opportunities for staff at the University of Reading.
Athena SWAN Silver Award