Schools and academies have an obligation to cover teacher absences.
However, this can be financially costly, particularly for schools who need to engage supply teachers or who choose to directly hire staff to cover staff sickness.
Every year approximately 57% of teachers will take time off due to sickness, which can result in lost productivity and can be unsettling for the students. It also puts increased pressure on existing members of staff which, if you are not careful, can lead to more staff absences.
Short-term staff absences
Regular, short-term staff absences can be time consuming to deal with. Because of the nature of the absence, usually a minor illness such as a cold or stomach ache, your school is unlikely to receive much notice of the absence. This can make it a challenge to engage cover staff.
Short-term absences also often come in batches, for example when a virus is going around a school.
Given the urgency, covering a short-term absence can be disproportionately costly and multiple short-term absences can be logistically tough to deal with.
Long-term staff absences
Long-term absences are costly and can also have an emotional element involved too. Whilst they only make up 5% of all absences, they account for almost half of all working days lost. Having a contingency plan helps to manage the effects that a long-term absence has on your school.
In our experience stress and mental health are the most common causes of long-term sickness, and in many instances preventative measures could have been put in place by the school to reduce the length of absence or even prevent the absence altogether.
We team up with leading occupational health providers APL Health to offer counselling, 24-hour helplines and wellbeing programs to schools to help reduce their long-term absences and support absent staff through their illness.
Non-teaching staff absences
Non-teaching support staff play a fundamental role in the smooth operation of a school. Whether they are involved in administration, maintenance, finance or any other function, a staff absence could be costly to the school.
Non-teaching staff account for almost 25% of an average school’s workforce, so it may also be important to ensure that any strategies put in place to manage staff absences also include non-teaching staff.
If you work with Absence Protection to manage your staff absences it is entirely up to you whether you choose to include your non-teaching staff. You will also have an option to include any ‘all year round’ staff who may also work during school holidays.