Holding outside appointments


University academic and academic-related employees (with the exception of Associate Professors who have colleges as their main employer; please see the paragraph below) are permitted to hold outside appointments and to undertake other outside activities, including consultancies, which require a commitment of time that otherwise might reasonably be expected to be devoted to University duties, subject to the approval of their direct line manager (where relevant) and their head of department or the chair of the faculty board.

All University academic and academic-related employees and emeriti, who are actively engaged in research, or who hold University appointments (and Visitors who have signed a Visitor’s Agreement and are expected to be visiting the University for more than three months), must complete a separate OA1 form each time they wish to gain approval for any potential income-earning or financial interest which may involve a conflict of interest with an individual’s University role, as well as for holding an outside appointment.

In addition, a conflict of interest management plan may have to be agreed with the head of department1.

Applicants whose salaries are funded from externally-funded research grants or contracts, or who are Principal Investigators or Co-Investigators on outside-sponsored projects, must adhere to the terms and conditions stipulated by or agreed with the sponsor and, if necessary, seek written approval from the sponsor2.

Associate Professors who have colleges as their main employer might be subject to rules within their colleges, but there are no limitations placed upon them by the University with respect to outside appointments, apart from the requirement to follow conflict of interest procedures.

The University’s requirements relating to outside appointments are laid down in Council Regulations 5 of 2004. This guidance complements the Regulations and provides more detail on how these requirements work in practice.

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The Regulations state that approval may be granted by the head of department for outside work and the holding of outside appointments, eg executive and non-executive directorships, directorships in external organisations, spin-out companies, University subsidiaries and consultancies. The total commitment to such outside work and appointments, without any deduction from salary, must not exceed thirty days in any academic year, for example, October - September. (For a proposed commitment that exceeds thirty days, please see the third paragraph in this section.)

This is not an entitlement and permission might not be given by the head of department, for example, for operational reasons, or if there is a conflict of interest, or a potential conflict of interest, or tension with a sponsor of a research grant.

Approval for cases where the proposed commitment exceeds thirty days may be sought from the divisional board, and if it is approved, a deduction from salary should be made, even if the extra days are unpaid, as the employee will spend fewer days working for the University. For full-time staff it is recommended that heads of division authorise a deduction of a 260th of the employee’s salary for every day worked over 30 days. For part-time staff, they should calculate the hours in the employee’s average working day and multiply that by the hourly rate of pay.

In the Regulation, references to a ‘day’ or ‘days’ should be understood to mean working days. Academic and academic-related staff are required to work such hours as are reasonably required to carry out their duties to the satisfaction of the head of department. However, the notional working day for academic and academic-related staff is 7.5 hours. 7.5 hours should be used as the number of hours in a day if any calculations on the basis of half-days are required. However, the working day should have a maximum length of 12 hours, if the hours are to be worked in one continuous session.

In order to exercise its duty of care, the University will ensure that its employees are observing statutory rest periods each day and each week and taking adequate annual leave.

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If the member of staff is being paid for their travel time to any appointment, this should be included in the submission of the total amount of time (calculated in days or half-days) for the outside appointment.

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Applications should be submitted, as necessary throughout the year, on the OA1 form which is available from the right-hand side of the page. The information gathered by the department will be held on PeopleXD (click on the “New appointments” landing card and go to “create a UDF record”).

Approval to hold outside appointments must always be obtained before work commences, to allow any conflict of interests issues to be resolved, so that the Conflict of Interest Committee may be updated with reports and to ensure that the department/division and individual can reach agreement on any necessary repayment of salary if the individual will exceed 30 days of outside appointments as a result of the request.


Applicants must ensure that they are familiar with the University's policy and procedure on conflict of interest. If they have any concerns about potential conflicts implicit in their proposed arrangements they should approach the secretary of the Conflict of Interest Committee.


If the outside appointment is arranged via Consulting Services at Oxford University Innovation (OUI) and approval is granted for the outside appointment, the applicant will enjoy a measure of protection under the University's insurance arrangements. If the outside appointment is arranged privately the individual (or the company) will need to hold their own insurance cover.

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The person who may give approval for a consultancy or an outside appointment should be:

  • the head of department
  • the head of division if the applicant is a head of department, or the application is for a total of more than 30 days per year
  • the line manager of the senior officer making the application (where applicable). For the avoidance of doubt, the application should be made to the Vice-Chancellor in respect of each of the Pro-Vice-Chancellors with portfolio, the heads of division, the Registrar and Bodley's Librarian. The Vice-Chancellor should submit an application to the Chancellor
  • the person at the next higher level of authority if the head of department (or equivalent) has an interest in the appointment or activity

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Associate Professors whose main employment is with the University should complete the application form for any outside appointments before those appointments commence and submit it to their head of department.

Associate Professors who are mainly employed by colleges, who are not required to obtain approval from their head of department, are asked to follow the conflict of interest process in respect of any outside appointments before commencing the appointment. They are asked to declare any outside appointments annually, in order to provide a complete record of external consultancies provided by Oxford academics.

Academic staff will be sent a reminder at the end of the academic year, so that they can complete a nil return, if appropriate. Nil returns should be sent on form OA2 which is available from the right-hand side of the page.

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As well as seeking departmental approval for any outside appointments, research staff whose salaries are provided by externally-funded research grants must adhere to the conditions and operational requirements stipulated by the sponsor and, if necessary, seek their approval to take up outside appointments.

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Staff in these groups do not ordinarily undertake other paid work during time which they would normally expect to be devoted to the duties for which the University pays them.

As a reflection of common practice, it is recommended that administrative and professional staff should agree that any fees for work undertaken during their normal University working hours will be paid directly to their department. If, extraordinarily, they wish to receive the fee directly, they should take a day’s annual leave.

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Support staff, part-time, variable-hours, and full-time staff with fixed hours, who have other employment at times when they would not reasonably be expected to be in the University, are not required to gain the approval of the head of department under the 30-day rule for this employment. However, all staff must abide by the conflict of interest procedure, which is contained in the staff handbooks, and all outside appointments should be made known to the head of department for conflict of interest and duty of care purposes before the commencement of the other appointment.

The Regulation specifically excludes certain appointments and offices, such as holding of the office of Proctor or Assessor, or internal and external examiner, and activities normally arising from scholarly work, which do not involve a formal and continuing contract.

Representatives of recognised trade unions, in grades 6 and above, are expected to work flexibly, where operationally possible, so that they can attend to their union duties. These are expressed in the University’s recognition agreements and contained in its personnel policies. Facility time is not determined under the 30-day rule.

Outside appointments such as acting as a school governor or magistrate are not covered by the 30-day rule but are covered by University HR guidance in the academic-related and support staff handbooks on voluntary public service.

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The University's wholly-owned subsidiary company, Oxford University Innovation Limited (OUI), has a specialist group, Consulting Services, to provide administrative support to members of the University wishing to undertake consultancy. Consulting Services will negotiate terms with potential clients and put in place contracts to protect individual interests and those of the University. Consulting Services also provides advice and guidance on seeking University approvals, provides cover under the University’s professional indemnity and liability insurance policies (only available through Consulting Services at OUI), handles the invoicing of clients, the chasing of debt and the disbursement of funds, which may be taken either personally or routed to a department cost centre. Details of this service may be obtained by telephone, (2)80830, or by email.

Members of the University choosing to use the services of Consulting Services at OUI must still follow the internal procedures for University approval of their outside appointments as outlined in this Guidance Note; Consulting Services will, however, assist the process on behalf of the individuals concerned. Please see the Consultancy Policy and Procedures available from the “Consultancy” section at the University's guidance on providing consultancy

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The holding of a consultancy may be included where appropriate within research grant applications and contracts.

Where consultancies are included in this way and provision is made through the payroll to pay staff for such work, the X5 costing form should itemise, among the costs of the project, the costs of the consultancy payment (including employer's on-costs). Indirect costs should also be calculated on the total cost of the project, including the fee for the consultancy.

The PI should personally ensure that their Oxford colleague (acting as consultant on the project) understands the conditions under which they are being engaged (for example, tasks to be undertaken, due dates, payment, intellectual property provisions, etc). This would normally be done in a meeting between the PI and the consultant (a brief follow-up email exchange to note what was agreed may also be appropriate). Time spent on such consultancies will count towards the 30-day limit.

If a department wishes to make personal payments to a University of Oxford staff member from a research account, these payments must go through the University payroll.

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Not all work for outside bodies is governed by a contract with an external sponsor under the University's research grants and contracts procedures. Some is likely to be "service" work, i.e. the provision of a service to an external organisation which is not of academic benefit but which makes use of spare capacity in a department (most often specialist facilities/equipment) in return for payment. Such arrangements should nevertheless be covered by an agreement approved by the head of department which is drawn up in consultation with the departmental administrator and (for tax reasons) with the Finance Division. Customers must be made aware of the University's standard conditions of sale and supply (available from the Legal Services Office (LSO)), which must be incorporated into all contracts (subject to any variations required on a case by case basis, and drafted or endorsed by the LSO).

A department may well wish to engage Consulting Services at OUI to arrange these service agreements with third parties.

Where appropriate a payment may be made through the payroll to individuals for the additional work undertaken in performing the services. It is expected that the head of department will decide on an appropriate fee to be paid to the individual based on the time spent (which again will count towards the 30-day per year limit). In such cases, where an agreement has been made with the University in respect of the service, it is not expected that a further personal consultancy agreement with the academic concerned will be necessary.

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The Innovation Leave Scheme enables founders of University spinout companies to be bought of from all or part of their University duties for a defined period of time, subject to the conditions and approvals set out below. Funding to the department for the buyout will be provided by the spinout company.

Existing alternatives to the Innovation Leave Scheme

There are a number of existing alternative options to the Innovation Leave Scheme for those staff who wish to spend time founding and developing University spinouts; the most appropriate option will depend on the circumstances, including the period and proportion of time that an individual wishes to spend working on the University spinout. These existing options include:

  • Utilising the 30 days per annum allowance for consultancy and other paid outside appointments.

See: https://hr.admin.ox.ac.uk/holding-outside-appointments

  • Taking sabbatical leave. Those holding qualifying academic posts (i.e. Statutory Professor and Associate Professor) may use any accrued but untaken sabbatical leave before considering seeking leave under the Innovation Leave Scheme.

See: https://hr.admin.ox.ac.uk/guidelines-for-leave-for-academic-staff

  • Variation of Duties: those who hold Associate Professor posts, who wish to spend a proportion of their time establishing a University spinout can seek to vary their duties through the existing scheme.

See: https://hr.admin.ox.ac.uk/files/variationofdutiesfullschemeagreedin2015pdf

  • Seeking approval for a permanent change to part-time working hours.


  • Seeking a buyout from all or part of their University duties for a defined period of time under the Innovation Leave Scheme described below.

Buyouts under the Innovation Leave Scheme

The opportunity to pursue a buyout under the Innovation Leave Scheme should be considered in conjunction with (and not as a replacement for) the existing opportunities to manage competing demands on individuals’ time outlined above. Importantly, the ability to pursue a buyout of this nature should not be considered a right or entitlement of employment. It will be subject always to internal approvals as set out below and the willingness of the University spinout to provide relevant funding.

The buyout will be funded by the University spinout under a standard agreement executed by Research Services that sees funding transferred to the department of the founder. Where the University spinout is formed with investment from Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), OSE will ensure that part of the initial funding into the company (from itself or other investors) will be provided with the intention of enabling such a buyout where this is required. The Scheme is not limited to cases where OSE invests, but would require the University spinout to otherwise fund the buyout to the department.

The period of the buyout will not exceed a maximum duration of 12 months other than in exceptional circumstances. All arrangements, including the duration and the FTE fraction (full or part-time) of the buyout, will be agreed by the founder, the University spinout, and the department. Divisional approval will also be required for those holding academic posts (Statutory Professor or Associate Professor). Where it is proposed that the buyout extends to college duties then this will need to be agreed with the relevant college (and in such cases funding to cover the buyout of any college duties should be included in the arrangement and should then be passed from the department to the college).

Requests to pursue a buyout should be made with as much notice as possible, normally at least three months’ notice.

For the avoidance of doubt, where approval of an external funder is required (such as where the founder holds research grants and contracts or where their salary is funded directly by external funding) then the approval of such bodies, where required under the terms and conditions of the grant or contract, must be secured before any buyout is agreed. Advice should be sought from Research Services in such cases.

The funding provided by the University spinout to the University and, where applicable, to the college will correspond to the relevant salary costs of the founder for the bought-out period, costed on a full economic cost basis (i.e. including indirect and estates costs). VAT will be charged at the applicable rate.

The employment status of the founder will be unchanged during the period of the buyout. They will continue to be salaried under their University and/or college employment.

Any personal consultancy work that the founder may wish to undertake during the buyout period will remain subject to approval through the standard University outside appointments procedure, which requires consideration of arrangements to manage any arising conflicts of interest. Where the founder is bought out by the University spinout on a full-time basis then approval from the University spinout to undertake consultancy work with other parties may need to be secured by the founder.

No sabbatical leave will accrue during the period of the buyout.

As noted above, approval to proceed with a buyout under this framework is subject to agreement by all relevant parties (founder, department, division, college and the University spinout, as appropriate). In considering such requests, amongst the matters to be borne in mind include:

  1. The career stage of the academic or researcher. Buyouts during the initial period of office (IPO) of academic postholders are discouraged as time away from research, teaching or administrative duties could impact adversely on the individual’s ability to demonstrate sufficient progress and achievement in all aspects of academic employment across University and college appointments considered at the end of the IPO period. If, in exceptional circumstances, a buyout is agreed during the IPO, the IPO should normally be extended by a period equivalent to that of the buyout.
  2. The contractual status of the founder. For example, for founders holding fixed-term posts in the University the ability to pursue a buyout may be more constrained where they are employed to work on a specific project and/or their University post is funded by external sources.
  3. Satisfactory arrangements being maintained or put in place for the supervision of research students, research staff and research groups.
  4. Satisfactory arrangements being maintained or put in place for the continuation of externally-funded research projects (see paragraph 8 above).

The founder seeking to pursue a buyout under this framework must ensure that the arrangements for managing conflicts of interest that arise, or might arise, are set out in a conflict of interest management plan that is approved by the Head of Department.

Departments (and colleges as applicable) will be free to use the funding received from the spinout as they see fit subject to the expectation that funds will be used at least in part to backfill teaching, research or other duties of the academic founder (thus ensuring that the workloads of existing colleagues are not impacted adversely during the period of the buyout). In the case of academic postholders, appointment of a departmental lecturer or stipendary lecturer (or similar) might be one approach taken.

The University will particularly encourage career development opportunities for early career researchers in taking on roles in the department (and college) during the buyout period of the founder.


University spinout founders considering may use of the Innovation Leave Scheme should in the first instance discuss this with the OUI Limited project manager supporting the creation of the spinout. Approval to proceed will be subject to the agreement of the individuals and parties set out above.

The University does not generally (except in the case of consultancies for which the information is requested for the annual HE-BCI survey) seek details of remuneration which applicants are to receive in return for outside commitments, but reserves the right to request to be provided with such details in certain circumstances, for example, in the light of any potential conflict of interest with the outside commitment. Applicants wishing exceptionally to make a case to spend a total of more than 30 days in any one year on outside commitments will be required to provide details of remuneration.

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  1. Heads of department are responsible, through their departmental administration, for keeping records of the number of days spent on outside commitments by all staff (regardless of staff group) in their departments.
  2. Details of outside commitments held by staff will be collected each year for the University’s HE-BCI return.

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  1. Heads of department are responsible, through their departmental administration, for keeping records in PeopleXD (Click on the “New appointments” landing card and go to “create a UDF record”) of the number of days spent on outside commitments by all staff (regardless of staff group) in their departments.
  2. The report PERDEP48 is available to run to monitor outside appointments.
  3. Details of outside commitments held by staff will be collected each year for the University’s HE-BCI return.

1Throughout this webpage, the term "head of department" should be taken to include faculty board chair.

2The Wellcome Trust's grant conditions, for example, include stringent conditions relating to the holding of consultancies and these apply equally to individuals who are in receipt of Wellcome Trust research grants, as well as to those whose salaries are paid from Wellcome Trust grants.


Updated July 2023

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