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Ringing in Sick

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ElvisGerbil, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. ElvisGerbil

    ElvisGerbil New commenter

    I know this is very trivial in the grand scheme of things but...
    I’ve been suffering with a horrible chesty cold for almost 2 weeks but continued to drag myself to school. I’ve been making myself worse by not resting and now it’s starting to affect my asthma. So I decided it was time I put myself first for once and have a day off to try and recover. I rang in sick!
    I was just wondering what reaction we as teachers are supposed to expect from Headteachers when ringing in sick? Are they allowed to say there’s no one to cover so nothing can be done? Are they able to try and make you feel guilty? Is there any guidance out there on this subject?
  2. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    The correct reaction is along the lines of, ‘Oh dear, I hope you’re better soon’.
    They might add something to ask how long you think it might be off or to keep them informed of how you are progressing or even to mention that you lol self certificate until xxxxx.

    Edit: they might also thank you for not bringing your germs into school and thus infecting everyone else , and so leading to more absences.

    ( though, I’ve never actually heard this last one)
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    That's not your problem, and I sincerely hope that you didn't give in and go. They can get a supply teacher in.

    If you have been pressurised or made to feel guilty, I would have a word with your union rep, who can hopefully raise the matter with the head, especially if anyone else reports the same.

    It's always worth reminding yourself, though, that the head's reaction may have been partly caused by stress, especially if others are off as well. It doesn't give them the right to take it out on you, but they might be regretting having done so.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Your question of course makes us all wonder what was the reaction you actually got?
    Or are you simply trying to second guess the thoughts behind the scenes?

    Did you get an actual reaction?

    To answer your question-no they are certainly not allowed to say "nothing can be done". It is their job (cover staff, HoD, senior staff, whoever) to make good such deficits as absence or sudden site emergencies or losses or malfunctions in the school day. How ridiculous to say "nothing can be done" because an actual human was unable to show up one day.

    Edit-saw the previous post. Much kinder than mine. I suppose yes, you might say that under duress, but equally it will be with the knowledge that you ought not to say it.
    Every school knows that absence peaks around this time of year. Schools are meant to deal with it, not shout about it.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I suppose they can say there is nothing to be done if they like, but that is their problem, not yours, and a poor reflection on the way they run the school. I am surprised that you got to speak to Head - most schools ask you to call somebody else. It does sound to me that you will need to be very careful with following the exact rules on absence if you do have to take more time off.
  6. ElvisGerbil

    ElvisGerbil New commenter

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
    I didn’t get a very nice reply over the phone. I was told I should have told her yesterday and there was nothing she could do as there was no one to cover. I was also told there was another teacher off sick but she had let them know earlier and they’d been able to plan for her absence but now I’d messed this up. I was then asked what I planned to do about this afternoon as it’s Christmas carol performance day.
    I feel incredibly guilty, as if I didn’t already, and will probably push myself to go back to work tomorrow even though I’m not well.
  7. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    They behaved like that and you're contemplating going back whilst still unwell?
    Jesus, I'd tell them that I wouldn't be in for the rest of the week.

    Also, no you don't have to plan cover - text book page number is about all I ever left.

    Also, solidarity with supply teachers you lot. They have a living to earn and many of them need the odd days cover.

    Also, your Headteacher sounds a right Herbert.
  8. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If you know you are not going in the next day, it is sensible to say so, but that is not always possible. If you are too ill to work tomorrow, you should not go in. Doing so risks making things worse.
    HolyMahogany, agathamorse and bonxie like this.
  9. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    If you are off sick, you do not have to plan work for your class while you're away.
    If you'd known before that dragging yourself into work for two weeks would result in you feeling so ill today, you'd probably not have been in school at all last week! Your head teacher knows full well that sometimes people wake up feeling far worse than they did the day before.
    Your plan should have been to spend the afternoon sleeping and trying to recover, knowing that your colleagues are all professionals who will cope without you.
    Don't feel guilty. Don't push yourself to go into work tomorrow. Stay at home and rest so that you have a chance to recover. Don't let your thoughtless head teacher make you risk making your health worse. It'd only result in you needing to take more time off later in the week. Send an email now saying that you are still feeling unwell and will not be in school tomorrow (and probably not Wednesday either unless you start feeling a lot better). That'll allow the head teacher to arrange supply cover.
  10. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    naaah, you won't.

    we forbid it
  11. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    No. NO .
    You’ll just knock back your recovery and then need to take another ‘last minute notice’ day or two off - thus starting the cycle all over again.
    The most helpful, longer term, solution for your school, (and I’m surprised your head doesn't realise this) is to get better/ well enough to do your job properly and then return.
    Bits and bobs of absence ( eg due to going back too early) help no one.

    So tomorrow , you have a day in bed, you don’t feel guilty or think about school, you do whatever is needed to build up your strength so that you can return to school fit and able to do the job properly in a couple (?) of days time
  12. install

    install Star commenter


    You are not well.
    You are not a robot.
    You must never ever live for work.
    Otherwise you will burn out.

    So - be human. You are allowed to be.
    Get well soon. You are allowed to.
    Never ever feel guilty.
  13. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    Go and see your GP if it doesn't settle. You can't afford to mess about with asthma.You certainly shouldn't be going into work. I hope you feel better soon.
  14. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Colleague of mine did this - ended up in hospital for 3 weeks.
    madcatlady, install and agathamorse like this.
  15. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    If you’re poorly, you’re poorly.
    End of.

    Just follow the absence reporting policy, which you did, then return to bed to sleep / rest to get better.

    If I’ve been poorly and off work, I’ve been too poorly to do anything but sleep.

    Regarding HT’s reaction, they’ll be thinking ‘could you have been in?’ Next time you report in poorly, report “I’m not in today as I’m ...”. No apology. No wishy washy around it. No saying you feel guilty (it’s a given we do in teaching but that does not mean we keep going whatever). If you do know the day before, that’s the ideal but the reality is that if we’re poorly enough to be off we’ve typically tried to get up!

    Now get yourself well. That’s important.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I agree with pretty much all of the above.
    Teachers get ill. You can't predict who or when, and part of being a good manager is having a contingency plan that includes a budget for supply teachers - and either the number of some local reliable teachers or a good agency.
    If you're ill enough to be off, it will probably take more than a day to recover.
    It is courteous to let the school know as soon as possible. This is possibly before 8.54am. My former place of employment liked to know by 7am so they could get a supply teacher in front of the children as they arrived.
    agathamorse and install like this.
  17. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    I used to be like you. If the head fits through the bedroom door, you go in.
    Ultimately, you have to look after yourself.
    Your health is your most precious thing.
    Schools can always Supply in even at late notice. The latest I remember is being called at 10:20 to go into a school 40 miles away for third lesson. I just made it.
    agathamorse and install like this.
  18. install

    install Star commenter

    I will never forget the saddest retirement speech I ever heard. It pointed out to the Head directly how she forgot to ask the retiring teacher if all was okay after the only day ever of illness ? It said to all of us not to forget ourselves - ever. It had apology after apology in it for being so very foolish for holding the record for the best attending teacher over 40 years.

    And the retiring teacher finished with a reminder that no one ever wished they had worked harder on their death bed. That teacher only saw 2 years more of life after they retired.
    suzuki1690 likes this.
  19. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    If you'd been in a car crash on the way to work and been taken to hospital, would you go in? If you'd woken up and found your child so ill that she needed to go to A&E, would you be in? Ok, so a virus might be trivial compared to these things, but my point is that the school has to be aware that things (whether serious or not so serious) do happen to people, and that they need to make allowances. I used to always drag myself, and actually got told by bosses that presentism is not necessarily a good thing. I didn't get it then, but I do now. There seems to be an obsession with both staff and children being in all the time-and that's not necessarily the best thing long-term.
  20. Smithsboy

    Smithsboy New commenter

    Teachers, like everybody else doing every other job in the world, get ill and at times will in fact be too ill to make it into work. Headteachers, like every other 'boss' in every other job in the world, should reasonably be expected to solve the not exactly insurmountable problem of replacing a human being for a day, or perhaps a little longer.

    Maybe it's due to working in other sectors for a good few years before taking up teaching,but it baffles me at times how 'different' the job is viewed in terms of matters like this. It is a job, much like many others.

    Take time off, get better soon.
    agathamorse likes this.

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