Work-life balance

  • Work life balance

    Flexible working opportunities

    At Brookes we recognise that we need to provide the opportunity for staff to find the right balance between work and home life to enable them to work to their full potential, and encourage confidence and enterprising creativity.   We also recognise that work-life balance needs may change throughout different stages of your life to reflect changes in your personal circumstances, job role and work environment.

    Generous holiday entitlement

    • Leave entitlement at Oxford Brookes varies according to your role and your length of continuous service.
    • Support staff: 25 days per year rising to 28 days with after 9 years
    • Senior staff: 30 days per year
    • Academic staff: 35 days per year

    In addition to annual leave and public holidays, the University offers two concessionary days (at the Easter and August bank holidays) and operates a closure period between Christmas and New Year.

    Other leave entitlements include:

    Aligned with our four Guiding Principles, the University is fully committed to supporting its public responsibilities in the community and as such enables staff to undertake such duties where this is compatible with individual, department, and organisational requirements.  This includes:

      Work life balance


    Oxford Brookes Nursery has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted. It offers childcare for children aged 4 months to 5 years between the hours of 08:30 and 17:25. The nursery accommodates up to 54 children and is only a short walk from all of the Headington Campus sites.

    The nursery's vision is a simple one - that you will join our many other families who "consider their children very lucky indeed to attend such a wonderful setting". (Ofsted June 2015)

    ‘Our son enjoys it very much. So do we! His creativity and independence have flourished since day one at the nursery. But the most important for me is how much care and love nursery staff put into their work with all children’.  

    Hanna Czarnecka-Nagy, HR Manager


    Flexible working may be negotiated on appointment (unless stated otherwise, all of our roles are open to job sharing) or requested for any reason during your employment.  All employees have a statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks continuous service.

    My studies have fed back into my job - I’ve had lots of ideas, and practices ‘cross-pollinate’ from one side to the other, so doing this has made me better at my job

    Liz Lovegrove, Tutor, Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education, OCSLD


  • I have worked at Brookes for about 5 years since 2012. I teach across our undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. 

    After more than a decade of midwifery teaching and having launched my 4 children into adulthood, I found I had itchy feet.  I had always been delighted to greet each successive cohort of Freshers, but latterly had begun to notice my enthusiasm waning.  This did not do justice to their delight and excitement. I spoke to my manager about needing to move on: I’d decided to volunteer for an NGO and work in sub Saharan Africa.  She suggested I apply for a career break: I did so, and this was approved. This alone made me feel like a valued part of the University. 

    Spending 8 months in Malawi helping to deliver a Skilled Birth Attendant training programme in one of the poorest countries in the world felt like going to another planet.  On one notable occasion, I was beamed into a student conference at Gipsy Lane: sitting with my laptop in rural Malawi I could see the familiar faces of colleagues and students.  Touchingly, a cheer went up when my face appeared on their screen. Belonging, and from so far away: I was glad I hadn’t left.

    I was warmly welcomed back, straight into a busy semester 1.   Presenting my Malawian adventures to students and colleagues including during One World Week brought it to a full circle - and most importantly I brought my enthusiasm back.  Since coming back I continue to have flexibility to pretty much organise my own time to get the job done. I am now working 0.8 and have been able to take on an additional role as a consultant with a project called Women4Health on the back of my work in Malawi last year.

    For me, I think it’s less about a “balance” and more about making sure the synergy is right between all the bits of work and life! It is helpful to publicise how easy it is to take a career break and how this can be an asset for the individual and for the University.

    “Work smarter, not harder”  - Compressed hours

    Simon Hogg has worked at Brookes since 1989, progressing through five different roles in IT, from system administration into project management. He has been working compressed hours for about 9 years.

    Since the IT restructure and a new role I have been involved with programme management, project management, risk management, IT governance, assessment of business cases, benefits realisation, communications and improving the ‘project to live service’ process. I am also a member of a UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) group committee for Project and Change Management.

    I work compressed hours which, for me, means compressing 5 days into 4 days. I always used to start work early and thus formalising that, instead of working extra as I got in early, was an easy and beneficial change to make. It means I have to be reasonably organised at work, however it has never been a problem to date eg. missing things on my non-working day. If something at work has meant I’ve needed to be at work, then that has been arranged with my line manager (TOIL or another day off that week). Also from a career aspect, I do think I unwittingly cram a lot into a working week, as psychologically it’s shorter. From a work life balance point of view, 4 longer days at work certainly compensate for a three day weekend. It also means a reduction in commuting (with time, cost and environmental benefits). It has given me more time to relax, to plan and enjoy leisure time.

    Compressed hours does mean a change to your contract, so that aspect of it is quite formal. I tried my anticipated days/hours informally after discussing it with my line manager. This enabled us to judge the feasibility and practicality of it, easily and quickly. Of course, this pattern of working has also moved with me as I’ve changed roles.

    For flexible working to work well it’s important to ensure equal and fair application across all roles.

    For me it’s about working smarter, not harder.

    Crossing boundaries into academia - part-time working, study, and career development

    I’m part of the team which runs and teaches our Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education, the course that new lecturers take.

    I’ve worked at Brookes for fifteen years! I started off as Web & DTP Editor, was then Learning Technologist for a while, then Digital Media and eLearning Developer, and now PCTHE tutor (which was initially an 18-month secondment, but is now permanent). I’m also an Associate Lecturer in the School of Arts.

    What working flexibly means to me...

    For me it’s about being supported to maintain my commitment to my job while also pursuing other goals. My main two have been education and motherhood. I’ve worked part time for a long time, starting off working 80% in semester time so I could study undergrad modules (and then going back up to 100% in vacations), then once I’d finished my first degree I dropped down to one day a week to do a full-time masters, and now I’m working half time while doing my PhD.

    And my studies have fed back into my job - I’ve had lots of ideas and practices ‘cross-pollinate’ from one side to the other, so doing this has made me better at my job, and the teaching I’ve done during my PhD is very valuable in my current job. I’m still working at Brookes because I was able to study alongside, and successive managers have supported me in this.

    It’s also about supporting staff to be flexible in their work roles. My changes in job title have usually been after a period of flexing my job responsibilities in a new direction, often supporting new directions of work in the department, so the flexibility has had quite wide advantages

    Compared with all that, my six months of maternity leave was pretty straightforward. We took shared parental leave, but since my part of it was just one period of leave, it wasn’t so very different from ordinary maternity leave.

    Having the Brookes nursery available, though, makes a huge difference, because it’s a really excellent nursery, and I’m very happy to leave my son there and go off to work while he’s learning/playing.

    Tips for other members of staff about working flexibly...

    Start off by reading the policies, so you have an idea of the sort of thing that Brookes offers, but don’t be scared of asking. And think creatively about the ways you can fit things together, and the ways that what you’re asking for is a benefit to the university as well as to you. For example, one of the advantages of my flexibility in both working hours and job responsibilities has been the chance for another member of the team to develop in new areas, while still having me around as a ‘safety net’. She’s now doing the job I was originally doing.