Teacher stress should count as sick leave
Teacher stress should count as sick leave and ought to be listed as an occupational hazard by the Working Environment Service.
This is the view of Jacob Eli S. Olsen, chairman of the Teachers’ Association.
“Psychological factors such as stress should be put on an equal footing with physical factors with regards to sick leave for teachers.”
He believes that with the right involvement from schools, teacher stress can be listed as an occupational hazard and thus count as sick leave.
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“Each school is responsible for reporting work-related injuries, mental or physical, to the authorities, which in this case is the Working Environment Service [Arbeiðseftirlitið],” he says.
“The trouble is that when a teacher calls in sick, the cause of illness is not reported. And even if the cause were reported, stress is much more difficult to identify and diagnose than for instance a broken arm.”
It is also difficult to determine just how widespread the problem with teacher stress is, he adds, as there are many unreported cases.
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“We only know about the cases that are reported to us. Our figures are not representative of the real situation, but we know that stress is a significant problem for teachers.”
The Working Environment Service is willing to register stress as sick leave, but it is not a simple process.
“We need to find the right way to register this type of sick leave. This requires close cooperation between the schools, the Working Environment Service and the education ministry,” he says.
“The Working Environment Service is currently working on adapting this registration process to include stress, and that’s a good start.”
Read the Faroese version of this article here.
Translated by prosa.fo.