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Sick pay: rights and procedures

* The sick pay year runs from April 1 to March 31. Within that time, teachers in the maintained sector are eligible for 100 days' leave at full pay and 100 days at half-pay. The exception is those in their first three years of service; their entitlement rises incrementally each year.

* Teachers who move on to half-pay after 100 days can also claim statutory sick pay, a universal entitlement of around pound;64 a week, payable for 28 weeks. While they're on full-pay sick leave, it forms part of their salary. Once on half-pay, it is paid on top of that figure.

* These figures are a national minimum and some LEAs have more generous arrangements. They also refer only to working days; being ill in the holidays doesn't count.

* If absence is the result of an accident that occurred in the course of working duties, the teacher is entitled to six months' absence on full pay.

* Independent schools establish their own sick leave arrangements.

These vary, so the details in new contracts need examining.

* Failing to follow the correct procedure with medical forms can invalidate an entitlement. A return to school after four to seven days' absence requires completion of a "self-certificate" available at GPs' surgeries. A longer absence needs a doctor's certificate on the eighth day of absence, and then again at regular intervals - usually the end of every month.

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