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COVID-related leaves and absences

New York Teacher

The pandemic has necessitated many changes in our work world. Recently negotiated leaves and absences related to COVID-19 are one accommodation to our new reality.

To ensure the safety of New York City school communities, staff and students are now being tested regularly for the coronavirus. If you test positive, you are required to quarantine at home for 14 days. During that time, you will be granted an excused leave with full pay and no charge to your Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) or annual leave, as long as you have a documented positive test. You may also take two weeks of paid leave if you are directed to self-quarantine due to exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

If you are caring for someone under quarantine or an isolation order, you qualify for an excused leave with partial pay if you can demonstrate that the individual depends on you for care and you cannot work remotely while providing that care. The amount of partial pay is calculated as two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay, not to exceed $200 per day or a total of $2,000. You may choose to use your accrued CAR or annual leave for up to two weeks instead of partial pay. 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not yet received your test result, you should stay home. You may begin an excused leave with full pay with no charge to your CAR balance or annual leave limits with the understanding that if a positive test result is not reported within two weeks, your CAR or annual leave will be charged for those days. In a case without a documented positive result, you may return to work 10 days after symptoms start or three days after your fever stopped, whichever is longer. 

Part-time employees who test positive may also receive excused paid leave for the number of hours that the employee is expected to work in a two-week period. If expected hours cannot be readily determined, part-time employees may receive excused leave for the average number of hours worked in a two-week period over the six months preceding the leave. 

If you are responsible for caring for someone at a heightened risk associated with COVID-19, you qualify for an excused leave with partial pay if you can demonstrate that the individual depends on you for care and you cannot work remotely while providing that care. You may choose to use your accrued CAR or annual leave for up to two weeks instead of partial pay. 

UFT-represented employees are also able to use CAR or sick days, over the existing limit of three days per year, to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or place of care has been closed for COVID-19-related reasons, and/or who is learning remotely at home for coronavirus-related reasons. This type of leave can be up to 12 weeks, less any time taken as excused leave at partial pay, provided you have worked at least 30 days of the previous 365 days. 

To apply for a COVID-related leave of absence, a UFT-represented employee must be able to provide proof, such as documentation from a health care provider, school, day care provider and/or governmental order as applicable. CAR rules regarding medical documentation will be relaxed so members may self-certify for COVID-related absences not connected to a positive test result. However, supervisors may request documentation if there is a question about the reasonableness of the time taken or other concerns, and extended leaves may be subject to further medical review by the Department of Education. 

If you suffer from a diagnosed mental illness or disorder that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, you may be eligible for a leave. Contact the UFT’s Member Assistance Program at (212) 701-9620 or mapinfo@uft.org for more information.