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Frequently Asked Questions

A list of the most commonly asked questions.

Does a negative letter in my personnel file stay there forever?

No, all negative materials in your file that are more than three years old should be removed if they have not been used in connection with disciplinary charges. You can request to see your file to verify that this has occurred promptly. Talk to your chapter leader about how this is done in your school.

I’ve heard my principal threaten somebody with a “letter in the file.” What does that mean?

The “file” is your personnel file that travels with you if you change schools. Supervisors may put into it observation reports and other materials about your performance within three months of occurrence, excluding the summer, but you must be given the opportunity to read it. You can attach a response if you want. Negative material that is not used in disciplinary charges should be removed after three years.

What type of construction work — if any — can be done during the school day?

The School Construction Authority (SCA) is supposed to conduct construction and renovation projects after the regular school day. The DOE Division of School Facilities (DSF) may conduct repairs and maintenance as well as small construction and renovation projects during the school day. However, asbestos abatement projects, whether conducted by the SCA or the DOE DSF, may be conducted only when the building is not occupied.

How may I use my CAR/sick days?

CAR days can be used for an employee’s personal medical condition; 3 of the 10 self- treated sick days each year can be used for personal business or to care for a sick family member.

How can I find out how many days are left in my CAR/sick day bank?

See your payroll secretary in your school, who can advise you as to how many days you have remaining in your sick bank. Your paycheck/pay stub also contains that information, which can be found on the DOE payroll portal (


Who is eligible to take paid parental leave?

New parents – including by birth, adoption and foster care - who are in titles represented by UFT are eligible to apply for Parental Leave, and meet the following criteria:
• You must be either:
- A full-time employee or
- An H-bank/non-pedagogical employee who works a regular schedule of 20 hours or more per week
• You must have been an employee and on payroll for a minimum of 12 calendar months from your most recent date of hire.
• You must have been in active status for the 12 calendar months immediately prior to the covered event.

F-status and per diem employees are not eligible for paid parental leave.

When do I apply for paid parental leave?

You should apply at least 15 days prior to the anticipated due or covered event date, but no later than 10 days after delivery to ensure timely payment of the benefit from the UFT.

If your baby arrives much later than the due date, you can revise your application in SOLAS. Just log back in within 10 days of giving birth. You have to confirm the birth date regardless. 

In general you should apply as soon as possible when you know your plans for using your CAR days and any additional child care leave, however keep in mind that you will not be able to apply earlier than two months in advance of the anticipated event. You should also notify your school or work location so they can begin to plan for your absence.

How do I apply for paid parental leave?

Apply online through SOLAS ( up to 15 days prior to giving birth or within 10 days following birth. If you don’t apply within that window, the DOE will require you to explain the extenuating circumstances and may not approve your leave.

When are CAR days/sick time earned and credited?

Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) is the formal name for UFT-represented pedagogical DOE employees’ “sick bank" of days. All titles earn one CAR day per month after serving 16 days on payroll. The day is added to the members CAR bank on the 30th of each month. Members who are on a sabbatical do not earn CAR days.

If you are asked to serve as a mentor to a first year teacher, can you refuse?

Members shouldn’t refuse a principal’s directive because they may be charged with insubordination. Members may file a grievance if discussion of concerns with administration (and with the chapter leader’s support) can’t solve the situation otherwise.