What to do When You Need Time Off From Your Auxiliar Job

Working as an English Language assistant is a pretty sweet deal.

A 12 hour work week is pretty much anyone’s dream, and honestly, it’s so few hours that you feel bad complaining when there is any sort of small issue.

But sometimes things happen and you need time off and then you feel like a dick for asking for time off from your already scant work week. So what’s a girl to do?

This year more than any other has been pretty rough on me. I’m not sure exactly why, but whether it was the weather, my shitty freezing moist apartment, stress about my future or all of the above, I’ve been sick this year more than any other year in my whole life!

I was never the sick kid. I hated missing school and it was a very rare occasion that I missed for anything other than a family emergency or maybe a family vacation. Even when I was sick, I’d tough it out at school and sleep it off afterwards at home.

But this year, migraines, colds, and most recently bronchitis (hello month long hiatus from this blog… sorry!), have kept me pretty under the weather. I’ve been extremely lucky to have very understanding coordinators throughout all my years as an auxiliar, though I’ve heard other peoples’ stories of less than pleasant bosses. So how should you go about the issue of asking for time off? Here are my tips to help make this somewhat uncomfortable topic a little easier to handle.


Be honest.

In these cases, honesty is the best policy. Spaniards are much more open about health and health issues than we are in the states, and you can use that to your advantage. It might be embarrassing to tell your coordinator that you have diarrhea, but it’d probably be much worse for you to go to school and have to deal with that all day… especially if your school doesn’t always have toilet paper out.

Ask for advice.

Don’t be afraid to use your coordinator and other teachers as a resource. If you haven’t been feeling too hot, why not ask your coordinator if there is a specific doctors office that he’d suggest? It’s a semi- subtle way of letting him know that you’re not feeling well, but you’re still at school trying to do your job and you also want to get better. It will be more “believable” if you need to take a sick day if your coordinator has seen that you haven’t been well and that you’ve gone to the doctors to try to remedy the situation and need a day to rest.

Always offer to make up the hours!

If you need to miss a day of school for any reason, always offer to make up the hours. In my experience most teachers will tell you not to worry about it, and some will take you up on your offer as long as some of your free hours coincide with their English class another day of the week. I got a little ballsy this year (and a lot homesick) and impulse bought a ticket to go home for Christmas. Of course, the cheap ticket came at a different price, and my departure was one week before my time off from school started… whoops. Again, I was honest with my coordinator about how I’d been really homesick and hadn’t been home for Christmas in two years and I offered to work an extra week in the beginning of June. Obviously that may not be a perfect solution for everyone, but since I’ll be here until mid June anyways finishing my job working at an academy, it works out perfectly.

Don’t be a hypochondriac.

What I mean is, don’t over do it. Being in contact with hundreds of children on a daily basis is bound to land you some time in the sick box. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and keep your distance from the coughers and you’ll probably be fine. But even if you do get a little something, be honest with yourself about if it’s really as bad as you think. Dealing with kids is draining and especially sucks if you’re kind of sick, but don’t take time off because you have the sniffles or a slight headache. You’ll thank yourself later when you actually have the flu that you haven’t taken advantage of your nice coordinator and you won’t feel so guilty calling in sick.

So, do you think this is good advice? Let me know in the comment section below!

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10 thoughts on “What to do When You Need Time Off From Your Auxiliar Job

  1. Hope you’re feeling better soon! I missed only one day in my three years as an auxiliar, two for strep at the private school and have only gone home early once this year (yesterday). Four days in nearly seven schools years isn’t bad, but definitely agree with all of the above. When you’re sick, you can’t perform well, so best to take the day off!


  2. under my opinion if you are ill you must not ask to make up the hours, for it might happen that your boss takes advantage anytime you are ill in the future, even after having been in hospital for example…you clearly show that you are a good person, but in this case of being ill you should not be so good.

    on the other hand, asking for days because your departure flight was one week before your time off from school is a different thing…in this case i do recommend to ask to do those extra days even if workers in Spain have the right to lose certain days per month, or at least it used to be.


    • Thanks for the advice Pedro! Sometimes as an auxiliar de conversación it can be hard to figure out which rules apply to us since were not technically employees like the rest of the teachers, we’re considered to be students here with a grant. It can get tricky! Thanks for reading 🙂


      • now i am confused…so you are not considered worker? then you hadn’t got to get a Social Security number? the Education Department doesn’t contribute to your SS so you can get benefits in case of being ill or retiring in the future? you have no health system card? your payroll hasn’t got taxes applied?

        sorry for the questions, but i used to think that Auxiliares were workers getting wage.


      • No, Pedro, we’re not technically workers. We get paid a stipend (una beca) each month, but we don’t pay taxes on it because it’s not a salary, nor are we part of the social security system in Spain. The government provides us with private health care during the 8 months of our contract (October 1- May 31 or June 30). Since we aren’t the same as the other teachers in the schools, it can get a bit tricky when it comes to time off etc.


  3. You know, I’ve been sick a lot here as well. I also got bronchitis and I lost my voice a while back as well. I’m wondering if it’s maybe more than coincidence? I also never get sick and am thinking maybe it has something to do with the work life. While it’s definitely not stressful outwardly, I feel like it’s possible that this job could actually be causing the kind of stress that comes with being too inactive or passive in daily living. This would explain the apparent lack of immunological resilience. This concerns me.


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