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Feeling Lazy? Bask in These Stories of 4 People Who Got Paid to Do Nothing


Earlier this year, PayScale told the story of A. K. Verma, an Indian civil servant who managed to avoid coming to work for 24 years before eventually getting fired for “willful absence of duty” in January 2015. Though his case, a byproduct of India’s tough-to-penetrate labor laws, is shocking, Verma is not the only employee who has been paid to do nothing. Plenty of workers have found themselves in situations in which they are paid not to work.


(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo)

Policing the police?

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania police officer Maritta Adley, age 57, has not been to work for more than 20 years. Since 1993, Adley has received workers comp as a result of a foot injury sustained from falling down a city hall staircase back in 1986, according to Fox43. In spite of multiple attempts by the city to terminate the agreement, Adley remains on the city’s payroll with a current salary of more than $70,000 a year.

The case of the missing mail person 

According to the U.S. Postal Service, it compensated postal workers for 1.2 million work hours spent not actually delivering the mail in 2010. Given that the monetary equivalent of the hours totaled $30.9 million, according to an audit acquired by The Washington Post, it’s unsurprising that USPS has made a point to prioritize decreasing employee idleness, a longstanding policy called “standby time.” 

The Office of the Inspector General explains that “standby time occurs when workers are idled but paid due to reassignments and reorganization efforts.” According to many postal workers themselves, the institutionalized downtime isn’t even particularly enjoyable and often downright boring, given that they’re forced to spend it in conference or break rooms and sometimes even “twelve by eight storage rooms,” according to The Federal Times

“It’s just a small, empty room. …It’s awful,” one mail processing clerk told the Times. “Most of us bring books, word puzzles. Sometimes we just sleep.”

Though current data on standby time and losses is seemingly unreported, USPS has reportedly made some progress since its 2009 numbers. According to The Post, although USPS spent $4.3 million on standby time in the first half of 2011, the financial burden has “significantly decreased” by “tens of millions” since 2009.

All aboard the lazy train

A 2013 report filed by New York’s MTA Inspector General accused five MTA machinists of spending as much as 22 percent of their time at work not working. According to The New York Daily News, one of them, conductor Scott Newman, spent multiple shifts doing a variety of things other than his job of maintaining MTA tools and equipment (for which he was paid a $70,000 salary plus $17,000 in overtime in 2012). They included spending time at home, fast food restaurants, and even Home Depot! Newman was reportedly fired soon after the report was released.

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