State pays workers who don't show up to work

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PHOENIX – The state of Arizona is paying millions of dollars to employees who don’t even show up to their job such as workers suspended for a variety of reasons.

Some employees are suspended for squabbles or criminal investigations but they continue being paid while staying home for months.

In one case a worker in the attorney general’s office earned $67,000 on paid leave.

The Department of Economic Security had the most employees on administrative leave – 138 workers in a span of two years. They earned almost $630,000 while suspended.

Mark Flatten, with the Goldwater Institute, says, “She was on leave for months because she got into an argument with a co-worker over how to process a benefits card. A lot of those folks got involved in off-duty conduct…DUI, DV or something like that."

The Goldwater Institute compiled a report on paid administrative leave. They found workers with the department of corrections were the group with the second-highest number on paid leave with 115 workers in the past two years.

Labor attorney Edmundo Robaina says that, while it is costly, the paid leave policy is necessary. Robaina says, “It's more complex than just how much it's costing the taxpayer."

Robaina says paid leave protects workers from issues such as a spiteful co-worker or boss and says unpaid suspensions could cause financial ruin. “For the most part these are middle-class employees and the allegations are unfounded.”

The Goldwater Institute's concern is the length of the investigations and paid suspensions, as well as the bureaucracy which seems to drag them out.

Flatten says ‘We have procedures and policies we have to follow' is an answer he heard a lot.

Governor Jan Brewer's office responded with a statement that her administration plans to reform personnel policy in Arizona next year.