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Frequently Asked Questions

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A list of the most commonly asked questions.

How many sick days do teachers have each year? How many personal days?

UFT represented DOE employees may take up to 10 self-treated days per school year without a doctor’s note for absences due to illness. Three out of the 10 may be used for personal business. Paras may not take more than five in a term and must have a doctor’s note for consecutive absences of three or more days. Any UFT member can take more CAR days for medical reasons, if they provide medical documentation and they have the days in their CAR.

How can personal days be used?

You can use three of your 10 days for personal business, provided that the days are approved by your principal. Personal business is officially defined as something that cannot be done at any time other than a school day, during school hours.

Reasonable notice must be given for personal business that is scheduled in advance, such as the closing on a house. This allows you an opportunity to speak to your chapter leader if you feel the principal is being unreasonable in denying your request. If you are out to take care of a suddenly ill child, advance notice is not ordinarily required. Personal days are part of the contractual right to 10 self-treated CAR days allowed each year, not in addition to those days.

Are there any illnesses for which time off will not be deducted from my sick bank?

Yes. Measles, mumps and chicken pox are childhood diseases that are not deductible from your sick time. Ask your school secretary or UFT chapter leader for an OP 198 application to submit to your principal. Form:

There are other days that are not deducted from your CAR.  These are called non-attendance days and they are granted for a variety of reasons, such as jury duty, bereavement, graduation, extraordinary transit delay, blood donation and cancer screening. You must submit an OP 201 application. Permissible non-attendance days are listed on that form. Form:

If a close family member dies, can I take time off to attend the funeral?

You may take off up to four days for the purposes of bereavement, at any point in the three months after the date of death of a covered family member. Form OP 201 is required.

What types of leaves are available?

The most frequently requested leaves are:

  • Paid parental leave: Eligible UFT-represented DOE employees may take up to six weeks of paid leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. The 2023 contract agreement includes an important benefit change. If both parents are eligible UFT members, both parents can now receive up to six weeks of paid parental leave each, which can be taken consecutively, at the same time or in any combination. Prior to the agreement, the parents were entitled to a collective total of only six weeks. If you have questions about how this change impacts your situation, please speak to a Leave Representative at 212-331-6316. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Regularly appointed employees and regular substitutes may apply for a contractual leave which may be covered under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of health benefits, commencing with the first consecutive absence, during maternity leave (even if CAR days have been exhausted) and childcare leave. All other FMLA leaves are unpaid, such as care of a child under age 1, adoption, the start of foster care, caring for an ill family member or treating a serious personal health condition. You are eligible if you have worked for a total of at least 12 months as of the date the leave commences (the months need not be consecutive) or for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. The leave can be intermittent or involve reducing your work schedule, such as if you need to go for medical treatments.
  • Leave of absence without pay for restoration of health: Medical circumstances could lead you to apply for a leave of absence without pay for restoration of health. Once you have exhausted your sick bank, you may borrow days (optional). Pedagogues may then remain on payroll for a calendar month with prorated pay by choosing to take a grace period.
  • Contact the UFT Welfare Fund about disability payments if you are going to be off payroll for a significant amount of time. You must apply for the leave on SOLAS and submit medical documentation provided by your doctor, including a diagnosis and prognosis. If your application for a medical leave is denied, medical arbitration may be appropriate. Please call your UFT Borough Office for assistance.
  • Child care leave: Child care leave may be used by either parent but not both. This leave normally begins six weeks after the birth of the baby (but may begin eight weeks after for C- section births) and can last up to four years from the next September term following the baby’s birthday. A child care leave for an adoptive parent ends at the same time.

There are additional leaves without pay that an appointed pedagogue may be granted, such as for teaching at CUNY or SUNY, military leave, service in the Peace Corps, sabbatical leave or acceptance of a supervisory or teaching position in a foreign country. Please call your UFT Borough Office to discuss other types of leaves that may fit your particular situation.

Can I use a sabbatical leave to pursue independent study?

Eligible teachers with 14 years of service can apply for a one-year Educational Research Project sabbatical. The research project has to be in the field of education and job-related. The project must be significantly rigorous and must have evident links that translate into improved instructional delivery of content to students. An outline and the subject of the research including the activities that will be undertaken will have to be attached to the sabbatical application.

Elementary school teachers must include courses or complete a project that promotes growth in a range of potential assignments, except where the superintendent determines that a concentrated program of study or project is appropriate. Programs or projects devoted exclusively to literacy are acceptable for all elementary school teachers. See the UFT's main page on sabbaticals for more information. 

Can I take an unpaid leave of absence to take care of a sick family member?
Yes. If eligible, you can apply for up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to care for a sick family member with a physician’s statement. If you haven’t already used 3 personal days, you may use them now but you may not use any other CAR days. If you require additional time, you may take up to a year of unpaid leave to care for a sick/injured family member.
What is the difference between a Family Medical Leave Act (FLMLA) leave and a contractual DOE leave? Do I have to apply for both?
The FMLA applies to all employees who have worked for 12 months or 1,250 hours. The FMLA and UFT-bargained leaves run concurrently, so you only apply for the contractual leave.
I am in the army reserve and have just been told to report for duty. How do I notify the DOE?
Send an email to your principal, cc your payroll secretary and chapter leader and apply for a military leave on SOLAS.
Can teachers take time off for religious observance for important holidays in their faith?

Yes. You may use your three personal business days for religious observance. These will be deducted from your CAR (sick bank) or you may take a pay deduction for each day that you do not report to work. The deducted amount will equal the amount that it would cost for a per diem teacher. You must fill out an OP 201 form: For more info: