Absences, Lateness and Religious Accommodations
Q: Are teachers required to be in the classroom at the start of the
A: Yes. Classroom-based teachers are required to be in their class at
the start of the school day—i.e. when the students arrive. The time
that it takes the teacher to get to his/her class is not part of the 6
hour and 30 minute day.
Likewise, all other employees must be at their work assignments at the
beginning of their workday.
Q: Can I deduct time or salary for absences and/or excessive lateness?
Classroom-based Teachers: They are considered both "late" and
"fractionally absent" if they do not report to class on time.
If the fractional absence is approved for personal business or for
illness and is in the aggregate more than 30 minutes, then the
teachers' CAR balance is reduced. If the total fractional absences is 6
hours or more, than for each six hours one day is deducted from the CAR
balance. If the total fractional absences is less than 6 hours but more
than 3 hours 20 minutes, one day is deducted from CAR. If the balance
in CAR is not sufficient to cover the fractional absences, then there
is a salary deduction.
If the fractional absence is approved as non-attendance, there is no
If the fractional absence is not approved for illness or
non-attendance, then the teacher's salary will be docked. (Source:
Chancellor's Regulation C-601).
Non-Teaching Staff: They are considered to be late if they arrive up to
5 minutes after the start of the work day or up to 3 minutes after the
time set for their return from lunch and fractionally absent if later
than the 5/3 minute window. Their salary or CAR balance may be
docked/reduced as described above. (Source: Chancellor's Regulation
Q: Can an employee be rated unsatisfactory for excessive absenteeism
even though many - or all - absences are excused (e.g. for medical
A: Yes. Excused absences "which are so numerous as to limit the
effectiveness of service" may lead to discipline and/or an
unsatisfactory rating. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to
inquire about the possibility of a medical leave of absence, which you
should discuss with your Regional Counsel. (Chancellor's Regulation
Q: If I suspect that an employee's self-treated absence is fabricated,
may I reprimand this employee?
A: Yes. If you determine, after an investigation, that an employee was
not in fact sick, this absence is unauthorized and you may dock this
employee's salary and/or counsel or reprimand the employee. Please
consult your Regional Counsel and/or the Office of Labor Relations
prior to taking such action.
Q: What do I do if a teacher fails to show up for work?
A. After absences on 10 consecutive school days, notify the teacher, in
writing and by certified mail, that s/he must contact the school
immediately. If, after 20 consecutive school days, the teacher has not
notified you, send the teacher a second letter stating that s/he shall
be deemed to have resigned. (Source: Teachers' Contract, Article 5).
Q: What if I forgot to send the first letter (i.e. the letter after a
10 consecutive school-day absence) and the teacher has been absent for
20 consecutive school days?
A: That is okay. Simply send a final letter informing the employee that
s/he has been deemed to have resigned.
Make sure that your letters to a teacher regarding an extended
unexcused absence are sent via regular and certified, registered mail.
Q: How many personal and sick days do teachers get each year?
A: Ten (10) self-treated sick days of which 3 can be used for personal
business and 2 for the care of a sick family member.
Q: When can I deny a request for a personal day?
A: If you (a) did not receive advance notice; or (b) the activity is
something that can be conducted either after school or on the weekend.
Note: Teachers are allowed to use 3 of their 10 sick leave days for
personal business; 2 of the 3 personal days may be used to care for a
"family member." (Source: Teachers' Contract, Article 16).
Q: Can I require that a teacher provide a doctor's note for any or all
the 10 self-treated sick days?
A: Normally no. However you may require a note if (l) there is a
pattern of improper use of sick day days/absences (e.g. before/after a
holiday or long weekend), in which case you should put the employee on
notice that you will require a note for absences on days before or
after holidays as a result of the pattern; or (2) the employee is
absent for more than 3 consecutive days.
Q: How do I handle a request for an extended leave of absence based on
either the birth/adoption of a child, the employee's own serious health
condition, or because the employee needs to care for a child, spouse or
parent with a serious health condition?
A: Contact the Division of Human Resources.
Pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), the Department will
grant eligible employees up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave during
a twelve (12) month period to spend time with a newborn, newly-
adopted, or newly-placed child; to care for a child, spouse or parent
with a serious medical condition; or due to the employee's own serious
health condition. The 12 month period begins on the first day of the
employee's first Family or Medical leave. To be eligible for FMLA
leave, an employee must meet certain eligibility requirements,
including having worked for the Department for at least one year,
having completed at least 1,250 hours of work in the 12 month period
immediately preceding the leave. This leave may be with or without pay
depending on the type of leave and the number of days in the employee's
Note: The FMLA is a complicated statute and mandates that employers
provide certain notifications according to a specific timetable.
Moreover, there are special rules that apply to schools for
instructional staff. Therefore, it is important that all inquiries made
by employees regarding FMLA leave be immediately directed to the
Division of Human Resources.
Note: The FMLA requires employers to display, in a conspicuous area, a
poster notifying employees of their FMLA rights. Confirm that your
school has such a poster. If not, contact the Division of Human
Immediately upon receipt of a request for FMLA leave send an email to
both (a) your school’s personnel manager; and (b) the Division of Human
Confirm that your school has an FMLA poster in a central locations
(e.g. teacher lunchroom.
Q: What do I do if an employee asks for a day off or early release to
observe a religious holiday or Sabbath?
A: Pursuant to Chancellor's Regulation C-606, you must consider the
request based on the reasonableness of the request (e.g. how much time
is the employee asking to take off for the particular religious
observance), how much advance notice you received, and the needs of the
school (i.e. the impact on the students if a teacher or many teachers
take the day off or whether a substitute is available).
Q: Must I give the teacher the entire day off for religious observance
or Sabbath observance?
A: No, depending on the requirements of the religion and the balancing
of the factors set forth above. Other efforts to accommodate may
include consideration of alternative work schedules, e.g., leaving
early. Consult with your Regional Counsel or the Office of Labor
Relations before denying a request for a religious observance day.
Q: Must the employee attempt to reach an alternate arrangement?
A: Yes. Chancellor's Regulation C-606 also places a duty on the
employee to consider alternative arrangements.
Q: If I grant the day off, may a day be deducted from the employee's
A: There are two options: (1) an employee may take time off for
religious observation and use 1 of his/her 3 personal days (see
question above regarding personal and sick days), in which case the
time will be charged against his/her accrued annual leave or overtime
balance/compensatory time; or (2) an employee may use a non-attendance
day for religious observance, in which case the employee is paid
his/her salary less the cost of a per diem substitute.
Q: If I granted particular religious observance days in the past, must
I do so in the future?
A: No. Each year's request should be considered anew and the decision
should be made after consideration of the factors described above.
Note: Contact your Regional Counsel prior to approving or denying a
request for a religious accommodation.