Times are really bad for NYC teachers these days when the UFT has to go to grievance to uphold basic rights that anyone can read in our contract. One crystal clear provision in the contract entitles teachers and other UFT school based members to ten self treated sick days per year. Here is the language of Article 16A11:
Teachers on regular appointment shall be granted absence refunds for illness, without a statement from a physician, for a total of no more than ten days in any school year.
Article 16A11 goes on to say that we can use three of those ten days for personal business, providing we give notice, and two of the three personal days can be utilized to care for a sick relative.
Nowhere does it say that if a teacher is out three days in a row, then a doctor's note must be submitted, yet that is a myth that has been spread throughout the system.
The UFT had to go to grievance to uphold the right to take ten self treated sick days. Of course we won this case. Apparently, the UFT doesn't want to brag too loud about this victory as the result is buried at the bottom of the weekly Chapter Leader Newsletter on November 1 where it states:
A union-initiated grievance maintaining that members should not need to produce a doctor’s note after taking three self-treated sick days consecutively has been resolved in our favor. You may take up to 10 self-treated days a year without a doctor’s note. This is true whether the days are taken separately or some — or even all — are taken consecutively.
While we all should be gratified that the UFT Grievance Department fought this case and won, it should never have had to be filed in the first place. Obviously, the Department of Education knew it was wrong as the grievance was resolved and not ruled on by an arbitrator.
Unfortunately, this is how the DOE operates these days. They violate clear contractual rights and wait for the union to grieve. When they are finally confronted, they back down. Meanwhile, myths such as the one that says we need a doctor's note after being out for three days in a row spread throughout the system.
One more point on this issue: Is it good practice to submit a note from a doctor if out for a few days? The answer is that if someone visits a physician when sick, it is a good idea to obtain and submit a doctor's note because then a member preserves the ten self treated days. However, members can be adversely rated if absence is so numerous as to impede performance on the job even if doctor's notes are turned in.