An Irish financial manager for Ireland’s national railway network claims that he gets paid almost $130,000 (€108,000) a year to eat lunch and read newspapers all day.
Getting paid to essentially do nothing doesn’t sound like something most people would complain about, but for Dermot Alastair Mills, an employee at Irish Rail, it’s discrimination. The financial manager claims that after turning whistleblower about the company’s accounting in 2014, he was gradually relieved of virtually all of his duties, to the point where he now spends most of his days eating lunch and reading newspapers. Despite all this, he still cashes his regular paycheck every month.
“I buy two newspapers, the Times and the Independent, and a sandwich. I go into my cubicle, I turn on my computer, I look at emails. There are no emails associated with work, no messages, no communications, no colleague communications,” Mills told Ireland’s Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
“I sit and I read the newspaper and I eat my sandwich. Then about 10.30 a.m., if there’s an email which requires an answer, I answer it. If there’s work associated with it, I do that work. I’d say if I got something that requires me to do work once in a week I’d be thrilled.”
The financial manager said that he had responsibility for capital budgets worth around €250 million ($261 million) from 2000 until the financial collapse in 2007. He was promoted in 2010, but his career started falling apart in 2013 when he was allegedly bullied into a new role and forced to take three months’ sick leave.
Mills claims that, when he returned, he noticed “certain issues” with debtors and sent a “good faith” report to the Irish Rail chief executive in March 2014, before making a protected disclosure to the Transport Minister. Since then, his responsibilities at the company have been cut, as has his budget portfolio.
“I started off with what seemed like a reasonable remit in 2013 and 2014 (€8 million). Slowly but surely it was hacked down to nothing (€400,000).”
Mills said that when his lawyer said that he gets paid “to do nothing,” he is talking about using his skills. The financial manager added that he feels “isolated and that he has been excluded from company meetings and training opportunities.
The unusual case is scheduled to have its next hearing early next year.