Know your rights

Absences and leaves for paraprofessionals

Cloud image of tags related to sick leave, doctors and benefits If you are a paraprofessional, the DOE-UFT contract establishes particular rights and obligations in terms of when you can be absent or take time away from work.

Absences and leaves for paraprofessionals

If you are a paraprofessional, the DOE-UFT contract establishes particular rights and obligations in terms of when you can be absent or take time away from work.

You earn one sick leave day for every month in which you are in-service for at least 16 calendar days. The maximum number of sick leave days earnable in a school year is 10 for September through June.

Those who complete a summer per- session activity earn one session for working in July and one for working in August. You should speak with your school secretary about having unused per-session time transferred to your regular Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR, commonly known as your “sick bank”).

Paraprofessionals can use earned sick leave and be paid if their absences fall in these categories and they follow these rules:

  1. Self-treated absences. These are days for which you do not have to submit a medical note from your physician. You cannot use more than three consecutive self-treated sick days. The fourth consecutive day will result in an absence without pay. No more than five self-treated days can be used in a five-month period or 10 self-treated days in a 10-month period. If you think you might approach any of these limits, it is a good idea to get a medical note from your doctor.
  2. Personal business days. These are days to conduct personal business that can only be accomplished during the work day. Annual employees are entitled to use up to three of their 10 self-treated days for personal business during a given school year provided they give reasonable notice to the principal and the days are approved. These three days may also be used to care for a sick family member.
  3. Medically certified absences. Medically certified absences are days for which you bring a note from your physician. They are without limit as long as the balance in your CAR permits. Absences exceeding the reserve will result in absences without pay. If you anticipate being absent for a pro-longed period, you must apply for a Restoration of Health leave via SOLAS. You should be aware that excessive absences, even with a doctor’s note, can lead to disciplinary action.

Be aware that days off for self-treated absences, personal business and medically certified absences can be used only for those purposes. If a supervisor suspects that is not the case, he or she may investigate and attempt to deny payment if it is discovered that you were not really ill or did not have personal business to conduct that could be accomplished only during school hours.

‘Nonattendance’ days

Absences due to childhood illnesses that are listed in the contract (measles, mumps and chicken pox), the death of a member of your immediate family, an extraordinary transportation delay or because you have to appear in court as a juror or witness are considered “nonattendance” days and are not deducted from your CAR. Your chapter leader can advise you about the forms you must submit to the principal for these types of absences.

Leaves with pay

Thanks to a hard-fought campaign by thousands of UFT members and the union, effective Sept. 4, 2018, paraprofessionals and other UFT-represented employees in the Department of Education may be eligible to take up to six continuous weeks of paid parental leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child under the age of 6.

Employees who take paid parental leave will be on an unpaid leave from the DOE. The UFT will pay a lump-sum benefit to these employees that is equivalent to their regular compensation. The city will continue to provide health insurance to employees on parental leave.

Read more information on paid parental leave, including eligibility and how to apply.

Paraprofessionals who are on military leave will receive their DOE salary for a period of up to 22 working days or 30 calendar days per year; all benefits will continue. The city also has extended military benefits. For more information, read the DOE memo that outlines the city’s Extended Military Benefits Package.

Leaves without pay

Paraprofessionals are eligible for leaves without pay if they fulfill certain conditions and fill out the appropriate application. These include leaves for personal illness, including pregnancy-related disability, which can be granted with the approval of the Department of Education’s Medical Division.

You are entitled to return to work from a leave without pay within one year on the basis of seniority, and you retain the seniority and other rights you had before leaving. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of a newborn child, new adoption, start of foster care or care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition or when you yourself have a serious health condition.

You are eligible for a FMLA leave if you have worked for a total of at least 12 months as of the date the leave begins or 1,250 hours (the 12 months need not be consecutive). The leave can be intermittent or involve reducing your work schedule. Your health benefits will continue during a FMLA leave.

A child care leave without pay begins six weeks after the birth of the baby and can last for a period of up to four years. If you have worked for two or more years and take a child care leave, you regain your seniority and will be credited upon your return with any sick leave that was left in your CAR.

Paraprofessionals with three or more years of seniority may be granted a maximum of a one-year leave without pay to teach or to serve as a secretary in a New York City public school. If you return to work as a paraprofessional within one year, you regain your seniority and any days left in your CAR.

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