Interactive: Is your teacher off sick? It’s probably Friday

Teachers in Toronto public schools call in sick on Fridays more than other days of the week, data shows.

On an average day, about 1,040 of the Toronto District School Board's 17,000 teachers call in sick. On Fridays that aren't professional activity days, however, that average rises to 1,315.
According to data obtained from the board through access to information, Monday is the least likely day for teachers to call in sick, followed, in order, by Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
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For Toronto’s substitute teachers, this is old news.

"For occasional teachers, you have a higher probability on Friday of getting a job than any other day of the week," says Marion Mutton, president of the Toronto Occasional Teachers union local.

“Absences are always higher on Fridays. But then people drag themselves through four days and say, ‘I can’t do another one,’ you know? And I think that’s pretty much the same in any workplace, ’cause by the time you get to Friday, you’re done.”

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There are some exceptions to the pattern: Fridays that are professional activity days, or PA days, see much lower absenteeism than other days of the week. Teachers rarely book off sick on the last day of school in December or June, whether or not it falls on a Friday.

“They put up [with] as much as they can – different levels of stress,” Andy Lomnicki of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto told Global Toronto’s Mark McAllister.
"By the time Friday rolls around some people can't handle that extra day, and it’s just sort of it easier to take a day at the end of the week and back that onto a couple of extra days for recovery, as opposed to one day in the middle of the week and come back sick anyway.”
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The board released the data, which covers the five school years between 2008-9 and 2012-13, in late October under access-to-information laws. Global’s request was filed in June.

“Teachers receive 11 sick days per year and a doctor’s note is required when there are more than five consecutive sick days taken,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. “It is at the principal’s discretion, however, to request medical documentation for less than five days should there be concerns about the use of sick time … the TDSB will be piloting an Attendance Support Program in the upcoming year to improve staff attendance.”

With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

WATCH: Andy Lomnicki on why teachers take sick days on Fridays

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