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Best to take one long sick absence or lots of little ones?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by miss_c, Nov 1, 2015.


What's best?

  1. Several short sick absences

    0 vote(s)
  2. One longer period of sick leave

    9 vote(s)
  1. miss_c

    miss_c New commenter

    I am incredibly run down. I have small kids, the youngest only a few months old, and she never sleeps more than one hour at a time. I'm constantly getting flu, chest infections, cold sores, migraines etc. etc. and have repeatedly slipped a disc in my back from picking up / putting down baby (and historic, pre-existing back issues). I am really struggling with work and have had several short sick absences since returning from mat leave.

    I feel unable to cope with the demands of motherhood and the demands of teaching at the moment and feel very weepy and overwhelmed when reading work emails and trying to plan lessons. I can sit for 3 hours trying to plan one simple lesson and my brain just won't work.

    I've always been a good teacher and have had nothing but 1s and 2s for every obs. However, I'm planning on leaving at the end of this academic year and I'm worried that my positive history might be overshadowed - on a reference - by these many sick absences.

    So - I keep having absences of a few days while I get over the most recent illness and then I push myself to get back to work and get ill again within a week or a fortnight. I'm now wondering - would I be better getting signed off for, say, a half term to try and get myself a chance to recuperate? I don't know if I'm suffereing from stress, or post natal depression or whether I'm just exhausted. I don't know what to do.

    Any advice greatly appreciated!
  2. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    I'd go for one long one, see your doctor to see if you might benefit from the happy pills for a while, and then concentrate on getting properly well with your health and energy levels back up. I'm pretty sure (others will confirm or correct) that your sick absences are counted by number of incidences rather than number of days. In any case, you are not giving yourself time to get over any viruses and are so probably very run down and likely to fall prey to other lurgies.
    snowyhead and Dragonlady30 like this.
  3. notsonorthernlass

    notsonorthernlass New commenter

    I'm with Monica on this - get to your GP, it sounds as if you are suffering from depression and frankly your wellbeing is the ONLY important thing in terms of yourself, your family and your future career. Also, if you can, talk frankly to your headteacher or a manager and see if you could perhaps reduce your hours once you are well enough to come back to work. The situation in which you find yourself is awful, yet five years down the line it will seem like a minor difficulty. Chin up and face the fact that you definitely need some proper time off and probably some emotional support - hope you soon feel much better and are able to enjoy life again.
    snowyhead likes this.
  4. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I'm not so sure monica that was the case in other jobs I've held but in teaching they have been counted in days and half days; but you never know until you need to know and the information is presented to you in black and white. @miss_c sorry to hear you feel like this and just after half term too, hope you feel better soon.
  5. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I hate to ask - but..if your youngest is only a few months old, why are you back at work? (I have a 3 year old myself and I took the 6months+ offered and 4 unpaid, this was in Ireland but I thought the UK also gave SMT, excuse my ignorance, am back in the UK now).

    That said, it sounds like exhaustion mixed with a touch of PND (which I had, even on maternity leave and without the pressure of work). Please see your GP asap and take some more time off - proper time off. What I think is happening is a burst of energy for a day or two, then exhaustion. Please try to take more time off with GP help.

  6. Larsy

    Larsy New commenter

    In my experience you're far better to do a long one than lots of little ones, as Monica says its incidences of absence rather than length of time.
  7. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    The most important consideration is your health, end of discussion. I know most teachers will push themselves to work, or return to work , when they are unwell but this cannot be the best thing for you, your family or school.

    On the technical side it will depend on what your policy says. Most will have some 'trigger points' some of which will be linked to the number of absences, some linked to the total number of days. If your school has insurance like ours they will have to pay for cover for the first few days, then the insurance kicks in on about day 3 .

    In the end though this is all academic. Go to your GP, take their advice and take the time to get well.
  8. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    If your school uses the Bradford Scale, one long absence is better.
  9. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    It will be almost impossible to heal by taking short absences-you mind a and body need a fair stretch of time without the pressure of work.
    As others have said, it does sound like PND which is bringing you down. I suffered from it too and there is no overnight cure, sadly. See your GP and take their advice.
    Good luck XXXX
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    One long absence or lots of short absences, which is better?

    Firstly, let's look at the school's point of view. They may well be using the Bradford factor. You can see that short absences are worse.

    Now let's look at your point of view. taking a short break, not getting really better, going back too soon, getting ill again, having another short break, well! It's a vicious circle, you're not going to manage to recover your health, are you?

    So go to see your GP, get advice, follow it. That last bit is important - for your sake and your family's, you must follow the medical advice.

    Best wishes for a full recovery

  11. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    At the risk of sounding awful, I don't think it should be a weighed up decision: if you're ill you shouldn't be in work - if not, you should be.
    old_dobbin likes this.
  12. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    Sabrina, the UK offers SMP, I think it's six weeks full pay, then 12 weeks half or similar. And not much, if anything, after that. (I'm still getting clued up on how it all works, but I've been doing my research as my OH and I are thinking about having children.)

    When I do have a baby I certainly won't be able to afford to have a whole year as I'm the breadwinner and will probably be back at work after the six months latest, if not after about 3-4 months depending on how much I can get saved between now and then. I know you didn't mean it to sound harsh, but you need to remember that not everyone can afford to take such a long time for maternity, sadly - you are lucky! (And I don't mean to sound harsh myself towards you if I come across as such, apologies in advance if I do.)

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