Philadelphia/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on February 29, 2024
Philadelphia Teachers Rally Against District's Disciplinary Sick Leave Policy Despite Salary Increase and BonusesSource: Google Street View

Philadelphia teachers, under pressure from a district policy that incrementally disciplines the use of sick days, are pushing back against what they see as a punitive measure. The policy, which governs the use of their contractually provided 10 sick days, entails an incremental discipline system informally known as "3-5-7-9," as first outlined by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Teachers face an informal talk after the third occurrence of sick leave and receive written warnings and potential suspensions as their number of sick days increases.

Despite receiving a 5% salary increase in September and a $1,200 "retention and re-engagement bonus" by June of that year, teachers advocate for their right to use their sick days without repercussion. Mistakenly attaching value primarily on financial incentives, the tentative contract deal unveiled by a joint statement also includes step increases and an extension of the Designated Schools Program's $2,500 bonuses through Aug. 30, 2025. 

Educators are set to protest a decades-old policy that they argue is outdated and harmful. The policy in question has been criticized for compelling staff members to work while ill or delay necessary medical care. A statement obtained by NBC Philadelphia from the educators' federation explains that punitive actions are taken against staff "for using earned sick leave," resulting in them choosing between their health and potential discipline.

Progressive ramifications for teachers using their allotted sick days begin with a memo after three occurrences. But the severity escalates to warning memos, unsatisfactory incident reports, recommended suspensions, and formal conferences with higher-ups. Principal and assistant superintendent might, even when a teacher uses them for legitimate health concerns, require a teacher who has reached nine occurrences to engage in conferences. According to the protestors, these protocols not only neglect the educators' well-being but also fail to recognize the practical realities of managing personal and family health needs.