What does the issue of sick leave mean for you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
Over the last year in particular, illness has been such a big issue for me and my whānau. I have tamariki at 3 different schools bringing home sicknesses, plus I have all the germs I bring home from my kindy. When I got Covid for the first time, my Association paid a one off Covid support payment, which covered 5 days of work, and included the government subsidy. Anything covid related after that had to come out of our sick leave entitlement. For me, my daughter tested positive on my day 7, so I had to stay home with her for another week. That was half of my sick leave gone! 2 and a half months later, myself and my youngest two children contracted Covid again. I was off for a total of 7 working days as I was so sick. That is my entire sick leave provision gone within the first third of my working year. We are also dealing with the worst flu season in years, and outbreaks of gastro. I have no idea how I am going to get through to next April with no sick leave. We have also been warned and reminded by our association that if we take more than 5 days leave without pay within the working year, our next years AL will be debited. This is causing so much stress mentally, emotionally and financially to my whānau.
What will it take to fix sick leave for kindergarten teachers?
We need a sick leave provision that takes our current context into account and acknowledges that we are going to get sick more often than someone working in an office for example. If the Government have decided that 10 days is a suitable minimum for across the board, surely there needs to be some recognition that when you are constantly surrounded by germs, and tamariki who are too young to uphold strict sanitary guidelines, you are going to be exposed to more illness and therefor need more sick leave.
When we fix sick leave, what impact will that change have on you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
I will be able to stay home when I am sick and fully recover, so when I am back with our tamariki at kindy I am able to give 100%