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Personal and Sick Leave FAQ

Personal Leave:

Personal leave is earned under our contract and should be used for events and situations that are emergencies or cannot be rescheduled.  No approval is required for you to use personal leave except when it is taken around a school vacation period (before and after Labor Day, Rosh  Hashana, the first day of work, etc).  You “request” personal leave by putting it into Aesop so the district can find a sub if you need one.  Whenever feasible, you should put in for personal leave at least one week in advance.

Personal leave can be declined in two situations.  First, you ask for permission when you don’t need it for a frivolous reason.  For instance, you let your principal know that you are going to be absent because you plan on going to the movies or that you would rather not be at school during a waiver day because it does not apply to you or a hundred other reasons that do not fit the basic definition.  Because you asked or let your supervisor know, you will probably get docked pay for your absence.

The second reason is that administration has the authority to bar your use of a personal day around a holiday or vacation period if they do not believe the reason is valid.  The language in our contract is:

Requests for personal leave on the day immediately preceding or following a school vacation period will not be approved, except under very unusual circumstances.

Administration believes that it knows what “unusual circumstances” are and they plan to start looking more closely at this usage.  We believe that as long as a member knows the criteria, the member is the best judge of whether it is an appropriate use of personal leave.  For the last 40 years or so, we have been getting signatures on letters from members to give to administration to get approval for these days.

Administration also tries to discern "patterns" in use of personal days before/after a vacation period.  If a member makes a request for a personal day after a holiday and has a history of asking for days before or after a vacation for the last 2 or 3 years then administration may deny the use based on this "pattern." 

We have started using email for this approval process, but we believe members have to be very careful about what they disclose.  Here are some examples of possible reasons you might put in an email asking approval for a personal day by a holiday.

Example 1:  I have to take my child to college on that day.

Example 2:  I have a wedding to attend out of town.

Example 3:  I have a legal matter to attend to on that day

Example 4:  I would like to attend the funeral of a non-relative.

Example 5:  I would like to attend my child’s school event.

Example 6:  My water pipes burst and are flooding the house.

Example 7:  That day is a religious holy day for me.

Here are some bad examples that will be questioned or not approved:

Bad Example 1: I would like to take the day off because the flights are cheaper that day.

Bad Example 2:  I need to attend a concert that is out of town.

Bad Example 3:  My family rented the chalet for our ski trip before the winter break starts

Procedure for getting permission for taking a personal leave before/after a school holiday.

Write a simple explanation and email it to the Human Resources Director at least one week (whenever possible) before the expected absence date. We recommend that you send the email to the CHTU president or vice president to look over before sending to the HR Director.  You will need to put the absence into Aesop.  This is a change in procedure, but should make it easier to process.  A sample letter would look like:

            I am requesting personal leave for Dec 20, the day before winter break. I am attending a wedding and need to travel out of town.

Thank you for your consideration,

It would be great if you did not have to use personal leave, but sometimes being out of school is unavoidable.  Personal leave should be saved for those occasions.

Sick leave:

Sick leave is a benefit that we earn through contract and statute.  It is your insurance policy, so you can continue to get paid and get medical benefits when you or one of your immediate family members is sick. 

Routine medical appointments should be scheduled outside of the work day whenever possible. 

If administration believes you are abusing sick leave, the law allows them to require you to sign a statement acknowledging your usage is legitimate.  This is not the same as a doctor’s note, which is not addressed in law or the teacher contract. 

Administration does not have the right to approve or reject your use of sick leave.  They want to believe that you should tell them every private nuance of why you are not at work.  That is your prerogative, but it is not always something you want to share.

If there is a pattern, like taking every Friday off, administration may investigate it to see if you are falsifying your use of sick leave. In the past, administration has called fact-finding meetings to question members use of sick leave.  They have even made use of private investigators to look into possible abuses.  However, if you are out sailing when you called in sick you will probably be terminated and there may be very little our Union can do for you.  If you are called to a fact-finding you should have representation.

It is best to put sick leave absences into the system as soon as you know you will be out so there is a better chance to get a substitute.  If you are sick at night and are not sure if you are going to be able to work the next day, it is better to call in late at night then wait until 7:00 in the morning.  Calling for a sub too late puts a burden on your colleagues.

Family Medical Leave is a whole other topic – see our FMLA FAQ on our website

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