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Sick leave is essential when teachers are unable to perform their duties due to illness, injury, or mental health issues. In the UK, there are laws and regulations governing sick leave, which may vary depending on the employer. If you’re pondering the question “how long can I be off sick from teaching?”, here’s a general overview of the reasons to take sick leave and the recommended steps for doing so.


“How Long Can I Be Off Sick From Teaching?”


If you’re a teacher in England or Wales working in a publicly funded school, it’s likely you’re familiar with the “Burgundy Book”. This vital document sets out your rights and entitlements when it comes to sick leave and sick pay, and is an important part of your employment contract.

Here’s what it says about sick leave and sick pay, based on how long you’ve been teaching:

  • In your first year: You can get full pay for 25 working days of sickness absence. If you’ve been working for four months or longer, you can get half pay for an additional 50 working days.
  • In your second year: You’re entitled to full pay for 50 working days of sick leave, and half pay for another 50 working days.
  • In your third year: The entitlement increases to full pay for 75 working days and half pay for 75 more.
  • In your fourth year and beyond: You can get full pay for 100 working days and half pay for 100 more if you’re sick.

This is the least you can expect if you’re employed under the terms of the Burgundy Book, with the benefits maxing out after four years of service. But remember, employers can choose to be more generous if they wish.

One important thing to note is that the Burgundy Book counts “working days” which are the 195 days in the academic year that most teachers in England and Wales work. So, weekends, bank holidays, half-term breaks, and the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays don’t count against your sick leave entitlement.


Common Reasons to Take Sick Leave:


  1. Illness: Whether you have a cold, flu, or a more serious condition, taking time off is important to recover properly.
  2. Injury: Injuries at work or from other activities may require time off to heal.
  3. Mental Health: It’s okay to take time off if you’re struggling with mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.

Recommended Steps for Taking Sick Leave:


  1. Seek Medical Attention: Consult a doctor to determine the cause of your illness and get appropriate treatment.
  2. Notify Your School: Inform your employer as soon as possible so they can arrange for class coverage.
  3. Follow Protocols: Adhere to any procedures outlined by your employer, such as completing forms or providing medical evidence.

What Help Do You Have?


While on sick leave, remember that support and resources are available:

  1. Mental Health Services: Reach out to counselling services or support groups to discuss your experiences and get help.
  2. Financial Support: You may be eligible for financial aid, such as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). Check with your local council or benefits office to determine your eligibility.

In summary, it’s crucial for teachers to prioritise their health and well-being. Familiarise yourself with your school’s sick leave policies, seek medical attention when necessary, and consider financial support available during your time off. Don’t hesitate to access available resources for support during your time off.


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