Equal Opportunities


Parental Leave Support

When both parents have more capacity to take responsibility for childcare and housework, mothers can recover better from childbirth and it facilitates the reconciliation of childcare and career. Supporting both parents to take over a more active role in family work and to spend more time with the newborn child can lay the foundation for shared care-work on a long-term basis. Furthermore, the support of parental leave will support a change in gender role stereotypes and contribute to equal opportunities in a long-term perspective.

The NCCR RNA & Disease reserved funds to cover the salary of PhD students or postdocs during six weeks of parental leave. Fathers (or partners in same-sex couples) of a newborn child are eligible to apply for the parental leave. The paternal leave can be taken during maximum six weeks with an up to 100% salary compensation; or over an extended period with a respectively reduced salary compensation (e.g., 50% compensation over twelve weeks). The parental leave shall preferably be taken in one continuous block.

Together with the two weeks paternity leave funded by the earning compensation scheme in Switzerland, male researchers can take up to two months of fully paid paternity leave in total. This scheme will run until the reserved funds are depleted.

More information: Guidelines for the Parental Leave Support

NCCR Flexibility Grants (previously called 120% Support Grants)

The NCCR Flexibility support grants provide financial support for female and male young researchers with family care duties. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the NCCR RNA & Disease awards time-limited support grants to female and male postdocs and doctoral students employed in NCCR-funded research projects. The NCCR Flexibility support grants young researchers greater flexibility in pursuing their careers. Researchers are supported in achieving a balance between their academic career and family care duties by allowing for or extending part-time employment, so that there is no delay, or only a minimal delay, in the research work. The Flexibility grant contributes towards the costs of hiring a support person and towards child care costs to junior researchers with child care duties and employed in an NCCR. Please note that doctoral students are only eligible to receive child care grants but not grants towards the costs of hiring a support person.

"Combining young children with scientific research results in stringent time restrictions on one's research, especially on labwork, which cannot be performed remotely. The 120% support grant directly addresses this issue. Employing a technician two days per week to perform important but time intensive sample preparations has allowed me to spend my limited time in the lab on the critical experiments keeping the project progressing whilst also spending one fulfilling weekday purely devoted to my son."
Fionna Loughlin, former postdoc in the group of Prof. F. Allain at ETH Zürich and recipient of the at that time called 120% support grant

If you are interested in applying to the NCCR Flexibility support grant, please contact the management at office[at]nccr-rna-and-disease.ch.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave Compensation

The delays due to lack of project progress during maternity leave have been suggested as one of the causes of mother's loss of competiveness in science. The NCCR RNA & Disease has reserved funds to cover the salary of one research assistant (hereafter support person) during the last 3 months of pregnancy to ensure appropriate training of the research assistant that will continue the project of the pregnant researcher during the duration of her maternity leave. This scheme will run until funds run out.

For more information please download the Guidelines and the Annex:

Guidelines pregnancy and maternity leave compensation
Annex pregnancy and maternity leave compensation

Reimbursement of Emergency Childcare

The NCCR RNA & Disease has reserved funds to reimburse emergency childcare costs for parents that are employed in a NCCR RNA & Disease or associated laboratory.

For more information and a list of emergency childcare providers please download the guidelines:
Emergency childcare reimbursement

Equal Opportunities Survey

The NCCR RNA & Disease pursues specific strategies to promote gender equality and equal opportunities. In order to understand the specific needs and experiences researchers have regarding these topics, the NCCR RNA & disease conducted an anonymous survey among the researchers of the NCCR network, including Master students, PhD students, postdocs, senior scientists and Principal investigators. The results of the survey were presented at the NCCR Retreat in January 2016 and served as a starting point to discuss issues of equal opportunities in 12 groups of 5-10 people. Ideas were collected and are currently analysed by the NCCR management and will be considered for the implementation of measures to promote equal opportunities within the NCCR RNA & Disease network.

Click here to download the results of the survey