NWO specifies current provision for pregnant applicants in official compensation scheme

22 February 2019

NWO’s 'Compensation scheme for parental leave’ specifies when and how applicants for a personal grant can qualify for alternative handling of their application. This provision is intended for applicants who are unable to participate in the regular evaluation procedure because they are on parental leave. NWO is thus trying to promote equal opportunities for this group to receive grants and retain talented researchers for science. The compensation scheme applies to the ‘Talent Scheme’ and ‘Rubicon’ programmes.

The purpose of the personal grants awarded by NWO is to provide talented researchers with the creative scope to conduct innovative and challenging research during the different phases of their career. NWO handles these grants through a tender procedure, in which the applications that have been submitted are ranked according to objective criteria and, based on that, consequently awarded until the grant limit has been reached.

Provisions for pregnant applicants

NWO guarantees that all applicants have an equal chance of receiving a grant. As a result, NWO works with a predetermined evaluation procedure with a fixed time frame in each grant round. In practice, however, this may cause pregnant applicants to drop out prematurely if they are required to provide written or verbal input during their parental leave (such as submitting a rebuttal or attending an interview). To overcome this problem, NWO is already using an extension scheme. Moreover, thus far NWO has sought to find a customised solution on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the pregnant applicant. These customised solutions have now been specified and standardised in the 'Compensation scheme for parental leave', so that applicants know what to expect from NWO.

'Parental leave'?

The entry into force of the 'Compensation scheme for parental leave' is extending the range of NWO’s previous policy. Applicants who are indisposed due to their pregnancy or maternity leave are not the only ones who are eligible to use the compensation scheme. Applicants on adoption leave, partners’ leave and leave in relation to the arrival of a foster child also fall under the term ‘parental leave’ as used in the scheme.

Alternative handling of applications

If an applicant is incapable of providing written or verbal input during the regular evaluation procedure as a result of being on parental leave, then this applicant can invoke NWO’s compensation scheme to request that the input be provided at an earlier or later time. The applicant could also be eligible for an extension of the written input deadline (normally 5 business days), and he or she can opt to provide verbal input via Skype.

If these options are not an adequate solution, then the Compensation scheme for parental leave now makes it possible for applicants to submit a new application in the next grant round, thereby retaining the opportunity to submit. If the applicant has already gone through the pre-application phase, then the applicant may even skip this phase in the new round.

Immediately applicable to the Talent Scheme and Rubicon programmes

NWO’s Executive Board has declared that the 'Compensation scheme for parental leave' should be immediately applicable to ongoing (and future) grant rounds in the Talent Scheme and Rubicon funding programmes. If possible, NWO will extend the scope of the scheme to other personal grant programmes in the future.

If applicants would like to use the 'Compensation scheme for parental leave', they can submit a request by e-mail to the secretary of the programme in question.

Full text of the ‘Compensation scheme for parental leave’


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Source: NWO

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