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Know Your Rights

Excused absences

New York Teacher

One of the many benefits of union membership is having paid leave to rest and recuperate when you are sick. If you are a teacher or appointed pedagogue, you can be paid for up to 10 days in any school year if you are sick and absent from school without submitting a doctor’s note. Other titles, such as paraprofessionals, can take up to five such sick days per term, but no more than three consecutive days without a doctor’s note. People with sufficient sick days can be paid for more than 10 days in a school year if they submit a doctor’s note.

But there are other occasions — aside from personal illness — when you are entitled to be absent from work but still get paid without using your Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR), or sick bank.

Graduation: You can take the day of a high school, middle school or college graduation or degree, whether in person or virtual, for yourself, your parent, spouse, child or stepchild. Excluded are stepping-up or graduation ceremonies from pre-K, kindergarten and sixth grade.

Bereavement: You may take off the day of death and up to three calendar days immediately following the death of an immediate family member and up to one day for the death of a relative outside the immediate family or household.

Jury Duty: The time you spend serving on a jury is not deducted from your CAR.

Form OP 201 is required for bereavement as well as for most absences that are not due to personal illness, including jury duty or appearing in court as a witness.

Screenings and blood donation: Accommodations can also be made for up to a four-hour excused leave for a cancer screening or three hours on an annual basis to donate blood. The request must be made in advance in writing. Your principal, or their designee, must grant an approval and can request that you reschedule if the school has received a number of requests at the same time.

Other health-related absences: Four hours of paid time off can be used for COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots that are scheduled during the workday.

If you have tested positive for COVID and are required to quarantine, you may take an excused leave of up to two weeks with medical documentation.

Absences due to hepatitis B as a result of working with children or due to an allergic reaction from a DOE-mandated skin test will not be deducted from your CAR provided you submit appropriate medical documentation.

Other health-related absences that are not deducted from your CAR include absences due to contracting German measles, mumps or chicken pox from a student. (Shingles is not on the list.) These are considered “nonattendance” days and can be requested on the OP 201 form.

Military service: Ordered military duty for training or reserve duty of regularly appointed personnel is another category of eligible paid time off for up to 30 calendar days in each school year. Extended paid time off for military service is available under certain conditions, such as those related to homeland security. Both training and reserve duty are applied for through SOLAS (the Department of Education’s Self-Service Online Leave Application System). Extended military benefits require an additional application through the Department of Citywide Administrative Services website.

Paid time off is granted for the time required for a selective-service examination (but not for entry into service other than as a reservist). Any nonattendance days can be applied for on the OP 201 form.

You won’t have the time deducted from your CAR if you are late for work due to an extraordinary transportation delay of up to three hours, with approval by the principal.

For religious observances, you may use your three personal days, which will be deducted from your CAR, or you may take a pay deduction, equal to the cost of a per-diem sub, for each day that you do not report to work.

Related Topics: Absences and Leaves