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The Reign of Salvatore Scumace, Italian ‘King of Absentees’, comes to an inevitable end

BY Reece Ashmore
Employment Law & HR

In the city of Cantanzaro in the South of Italy, a public sector worker has allegedly managed to avoid coming to work for a period of 15 years. The Police revealed that the hospital employee continued to be paid for a monthly salary amounting to a total of £464,000 despite not turning up for work since he was initially employed at the hospital in 2005.

The 67-year-old now faces charges of abuse of position, fraud and extortion. Additionally, six hospital managers are currently being investigated in their suspected involvement with the case. There are various allegations around their role in enabling the employee’s absenteeism and helping him ‘get away with it’ for a significant amount of time. This type of corruption has been notoriously prevalent across the public sector in Italy in recent years. In 2016, figures suggested nearly a quarter of the city of Rome’s employees were off work at any one time.

During their investigation, the Police gathered substantial evidence from attendance and salary records relating to the employee in addition to extensive witness statements from colleagues working in the hospital. There are reports to suggest that the employee threatened the hospital director to prevent her from filing a disciplinary report against him. As a result, the director retired and the employee’s continued absenteeism resumed unhindered as his attendance was never monitored by the director’s successor or the HR department.

It’s unclear exactly when the scheme was uncovered. However, the hospital launched disciplinary action against the employee late last year and alerted the relevant authorities of his lengthy absence. He was subsequently dismissed in October 2020 and later arrested as part of an investigation dubbed ‘Operation Part Time.’

Whilst Mr Scumace takes the crown, if you require any advice on the best way to manage persistent absenteeism, why don’t you join our webinar on Managing Absence Problems on 13th May? More information can be found on our website.

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