HR Director Julian Duxfield: supporting our carers

As the summer months approach, many of us will be looking forward to a well-earned break after a very long and difficult year.


Caring challenges

For those with caring responsibilities, the last year has brought its own challenges, with many colleagues having to juggle work commitments with care arrangements and home-schooling. Others have experienced the pain of being unable to visit loved ones in care homes for long periods, while many have been under increased pressure due to the lack of respite services.

We are acutely aware of these challenges, and I know that HR and other colleagues have been very sympathetic to those of us caring for others – whether that be through providing time off through the furlough scheme, or more informal arrangements to support colleagues through a difficult period.

Making use of University support

Many colleagues have taken the opportunity to take advantage of the University’s support, such as flexible working arrangements or the additional annual leave scheme.  We have also seen increasing numbers of staff use Work + Family Space. All University employees can access this service for free, giving them support on family-related issues such as access to emergency back-up childcare and adult care as well as a phone line, downloadable guides and webinars.

Our Childcare Services also continue to be very popular, with many staff making use of the University’s five nurseries, as well as discounted places at childcare settings across the local area. We are pleased that the University nurseries recently moved to a new provider, Kids Planet. Kids Planet has a higher proportion of outstanding nurseries than any other UK nursery chain, and feedback from University parents has so far been very positive.

This summer and beyond

As we move into the summer period, I hope that colleagues will take the opportunity to have a break away from work. University employees benefit from more leave than those in many other organisations and, while I realise many of us have a huge amount to do over the summer, I do encourage everyone to take their full holiday allocation wherever possible.  Those with older children may also like to know that Childcare Services provides discounts on holiday clubs and activity camps during the school holidays. during the school holidays.

There is clearly a lot of uncertainty about the next academic year, about the levels of restrictions that will be in place and about the details of arrangements in schools. Balancing work and care commitments will be one of the factors considered as part of our New Ways of Working framework for professional services staff, and we will continue to provide additional guidance over the summer months about arrangements for Michaelmas term.

Personally, I hope that the next academic year will see less disruption, and that we can go back to a more ‘normal’ way of working. Whatever happens, I am confident that the University community will continue to respond in an empathetic way so that we can all get through this challenging period in the caring manner which we all aspire to.

For more information about the support available for University staff, go to the Work-life balance and
Information for parents and carers pages on the HR Support website.