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Is it too easy to be 'off sick' in teaching?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by deleted358, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. But surely the same applies to everyone? Is it not the added stress and pressure of covering for staff who are off very regularly not adding to that?
    NB.... I am NOT talking about odd days, or legitimate illness. I am talking about habitual abstenteeism.
  2. Definitely, I know that my TA and I seem to "take turns" when we're ill, if I struggle on my own while she is off ill, by the time she's back I'm knackered and then I succumb! In my school it seems the "habitual" absentees have been given roles in which they aren't really missed that much if they're off, it's kinda crazy.
  3. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Teachers are doing increasingly little cover, which acknowledges and addresses this issue.
    Very soon, cover will only be done in an emergency situation.

    How do you know their absences are not legitimate, and how do you know they've not been to OccH, out of interest?
  4. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    When I worked in an office, it was quite usual for parents to turn up later in the morning, having had difficulties getting a recalcitrant child to school,or having to go to doctors. Or they would leave early, if the school phoned to say the child was ill and needed to be collected. These hours were always carefully logged and made up afterwards via flexitime.....not a possibility in schools, you can't decide to abandon your Year 10 Math group at 2:30 in the afternoon and come in at 7am to make up the hours.( I wish! Can you imagine year 10's faces if you told them to be in at 7!)
    Similarly, if you, yourself were ill you could leave early if you felt the need, and make up a few hours later, Or, you could alter you workload....my headache is niggling so I won't type up the memos at the computer just yet, I'll read through those reports whilst having a cup of tea! (Hmmmm I've got a niggling headache, so I'll swap my bottom set year 11 and do some marking whilst having a cuppa - can Year 11 turn up after school tomorrow when I'll make up the hour they missed?!)
    I always felt more guilty taking time off from school. There is always something 'important' going on...SATs, GCSEs, OFSTED, Parents Evening, School Concert....Working in an office I was only once asked 'are you sure you can't come in, we've got that big contract coming up for renewal, we need your input' and this was followed with the suggestion that I turn up just for the main planning meeting, deliver the notes I'd been working on and then leave the meeting early. School always seem to deliver the guilt trip....when I phoned in and when I returned to work I was always made to feel my absence was an inconvenience.
    I had many, many more infections at school. Everything from colds and flu to a seriously nasty dose of viral hepatitis. Firstly, children are sent to school with all manner of infections. Secondly, the rooms are often over-warm and airless. (or freezing cold and airless!)

  5. I've done 2 lessons this week. Not unusual here.
    A serious cold once every week? A rash the next, a sore throat the week after? Tummy trouble the week after?
    2 referals in 8 years... and I know who both were.
  6. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Do you not have a union?

  7. Yes but things have not changed.
    Because I was told by someone in an official capacity.
  8. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Well in that case:
    a) Get on to the union at a higher level - you should not do more than one cover in a week, nor more than 38 hours in a year, and cover should be evidently diminishing as your cover supervisors take the bulk of the day-to-day cover, and supply teachers take the long term absences.

    b) You have been told some confidential information - referrals to occupational health are confidential between the person and the headteacher (or the headteachers representative) and you have no right to know who has been referred. I am surprised that your school is so lax with this - I know I'm not in the only school that is very hot on the supportive roles they must take for fear of legal issues later on!
  9. and from previous conversations we should have established by now that different schools operate differently.
    Don't assume it is the school I am at now.
    I fully agree that OccH should be involved. That is the whole point of my OP. People are having time off with no accountability.
  10. Not easy in my school( primary) at all. After absence both when i was ill and also absence(unpaid) due to my children being ill i was called to a meeting with my HT regarding these absences. At this meeting , to which i was allowed no representation, (according to the documentation given ),my HT set a target regarding absence.
    The target was that i would not be absent from work AT ALL over the next term and a half.
    Worrying and maybe unacheivable esecially as a single parent with two children. This target was written and signed and if i failed to achieve it, the 'next stage of procedures' would begin. Procedures, explained by HT, as meetings with OccH and with repeated failure to meet the set targets, a decision over my capability for work.
    HT also supplied me with a list of childminders and day nurseries, to contact when my children are ill!
    The documentation supplied by my HT shows the trigger points for this system of target setting to kick in.
    'Staff Summary of Attendance Management Policy (for my LA )states
    trigger points are
    absence on
    3 or more occasions in a 6 month period
    4 or more occasions in a 12 month period
    20 days continious absence
    any concern for your health
    an 'occasion' is defined as one half day.

  11. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    I agree that there are some people who are off almost every single week either for themselves or for their kids, and while I know that some staff at our place have been 'spoken to' by HT, others have not. It probably is too much really, but if they are genuinely ill or their child/baby is, I don't see what else can be done.
    As others have said, cover is diminishing, and from September schools won't be able to ask teachers to provide cover for colleagues except in emergencies, ie someone's had to go and get their vomiting child from the childminder, or has fallen ill during the day and supply can't be got in.
    It's also not fair to assume that in an office other people don't have to pick up your work. Certainly when I worked in offices, the work had to be done so if a colleague was off, we had to carry the load.
    I'd also agree that teaching is not a job you can do if you are under the weather or suffering from emotional stress- unless you are very, very experienced and have no behaviour issues in your classroom. I have been off sick much more as a teacher than I ever was as a pupil, student or office worker.
  12. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Yeeeees... from half a day, but it could be as long as 6 months!

  13. yep, a HALF DAY is an occasion!!
    but i would think, not as long as 6 months as the continuous 20 days would start off 'procedures'
    However it is true that a 19 day, absence, would be far 'better'!! than 3 or four half days, as far as these procedures are concerned.
    If my children are ill for instance, i would have to be very sure that they are well, before they or i return to school.I couldn't risk them being off a day later, because they weren't fully recovered! This would amount to 2 occasions rather than, say,one 3 day absence.

    I also feel that this is undue pressure If i am ill, i am ill...sometimes it is impossible to go to school...so i fail my targets.
    I also have no family near by, friends all work, day nurseries and childminders will not take an ill child...and why should they ...to infect all other children???...if my children are not well enough to be at school, then surely they are not well enough to be with a childminder or to be in a day nursery.
    I feel this is all a bit ironic. My children have been sent home from school ill, by a school in the same LA as i work...yet that same LA prevents me from leaving work to look after these same children??? As a teacher i expect parents to come and collect their ill children...ME??..NO I HAVE TARGETS TO ACHIEVE!!!
  14. Just for the record:
    I had 7 weeks of continual absence last academic year due to an injury. I am not critisising people for having to have time off. I have had 36 days in the last 3 years in total so I have had time off work like the best of you!!
    I am critisising a system that allows people to take the mick. I think there should be 'support' put into place for these people. It may then reduce the amount of 'sick' days. I have genuine sympathy for people who need time off work, and after my seven weeks I was bordering on depression because of the 'guilt' thing people are talking about.
    I'm not having a pop at people at all. I'm merely wondering if we have a system that allows people too readily to take time off.
    I'm not really sure that was my assumption, although I did word it badly! In this job others DO have to cover for you if you are off. It's a fact. I wasn't aware of a change of legislation in September. Can anyone show me a reference for this?
  15. Far too easy for one of my "colleagues"
    Over the past few years, she has been absent due to:
    Emergency surgery - boob job (2 weeks)
    Emergency surgery - liposuction (2 weeks)
    Emergency surgery - Had eyebrows and lips tattooed on
    Emergency surgery - laser eye op (2 weeks)
    Concussion - 2 weeks but still managed to "struggle in" for the staff dinner
    Everyone else seems to think that I'm mad for suggesting that all of the above could have been done during the holidays (except the "concussion" of course)
    The fact that it's always 2 week is also a bit strange

  16. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

  17. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Hmmm - follow my link and click on the second or third result down for a properly formatted version of the above!
  18. Thanks!
    What does rarely mean? Still the 38hrs? Does this include registration?
  19. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    No, rarely is like maybe once a year... 38 hours would require you to be doing it frequently (as it's almost an hour a week!)
    Registration is grey area, as I understand it (and I'm no expert, I've just read the posters). Since it could be considered that anyone without a tutor group or other responsibility in tutor time is getting an easy ride anyway, it seems to be considered that cover then is ok... but as I say, I don't know, that's just what I've assumed.
  20. No, i don't think that you are having a pop at all, this is interesting to discuss.
    There is a system in my school in place. Very formal, meeting with HT after every absence, and as i stated earlier, strict procedures which kick in after a defined period of absence.
    This has made it impossible to take any time off...is it unreasonable to set a target of 'no absence at all' over a 3-4 month period...i don't know? If i am sick i am sick..sometimes it is just impossible to attend. Similarly if my children are sick, i have no alternative...and i am ashamed to say i have left them alone at times...for fear of being deemed 'incapable of work'
    The union suggested i take my children with me to the 'sick bay' in my own school...primary school..sick bay???....mmmm?..sitting outside the school office with a bowl!!!

    Some huge issues to think about.

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