One of the many benefits of union membership is having paid leave to rest and recuperate when you are sick.
Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) is the formal name for the bank of “sick days” that UFT-represented employees who work for the Department of Education (DOE) earn.
All full-time, school-based UFT members earn one CAR day on the 16th of each month of the school year, for a total of 10 days for the full school year. You must work at least 16 days each month to earn a CAR day.
Pedagogues, including school psychologists, school counselors, social workers, librarians and lab specialists as well as school secretaries, can earn up to 10 self-treated sick days each year. Three of those 10 days can be used for personal business, provided reasonable notice is given to the principal, or to care for a sick family member. If you take more than 10 self-treated days in a school year, you will not be paid unless you submit a doctor’s note, even if you have days remaining in your CAR.
Paraprofessionals and other administrative employees such as school nurses and occupational and physical therapists are entitled to use up to five self-treated days in a five-month period (from September through January and from February through June). Paras and administrative employees cannot use more than three consecutive self-treated sick days. The fourth in a row would result in an absence without pay.
For regularly appointed employees, up to 200 CAR days can be accumulated over the course of a career. You do not accrue days in your CAR when you are on an approved sabbatical or leave of absence without pay.
If you are ill but have exhausted all the days in your CAR, pedagogues may submit a request in writing to borrow 20 additional sick days; administrative employees, including paraprofessionals, can borrow 10 sick days. If these have not been replenished by the time you retire or resign, the DOE will deduct money from your vacation pay to cover that cost at your current salary. If you are not entitled to vacation pay or if your vacation pay is less than what is owed, the DOE will send you a bill for the amount owed.
You can check how many days you have in your sick bank on your paycheck or pay stub, which can be found on the DOE payroll portal or you can ask your payroll secretary for this information.