The auto-suspension of Carmen Ciantar from her position as CEO of the government’s Foundation for Medical Services (FMS) last May completely disregards the written disciplinary procedure put in place by Ciantar herself.
According to the “FMS Discipline Procedure”, obtained by The Shift, a suspension from work at the FMS can only be affected through a specific set of procedures, in writing and following approval by the CEO’s office.
The policy clearly states that it applies “to all employees working at the FMS Head Office and all public sector employees on an FMS contract deployed in various entities”.
While the policy does not give the right to any of the FMS’s employees to ‘self-suspend’ and ‘self-reintegrate’ themselves, as happened in the case of Ciantar, it also explains that if an employee “may potentially be under investigation in connection with a criminal offence, this will not necessarily be reason for disciplinary action”.
It states that consideration will be given as to what effect the charge or conviction has on the employee’s suitability to do their job, their relationship with the employer, work colleagues, clients, and other parties, and whether there is actual or potential damage to the employer’s reputation.
However, the same policy underlines that: “In some cases deemed sufficiently serious, it may be considered necessary by the employer to suspend an employee. Such suspension shall not be longer than three months from the date of suspension if no charges have been issued in respect of the employee”.
At the end of last May, after claims of corruption surfaced in the Pakistani media, Carmen Ciantar announced that she was ‘self-suspending’ herself, while vehemently denying all claims about her and her daughter.
Two months later, again unilaterally, she announced her return to work as FMS CEO and declared that “truth and my integrity have won over the massive and moneyed dark forces which tried to annihilate both”.
Ciantar never explained who plotted against her.
Eyebrows were immediately raised at how Ciantar made her own decisions without the apparent approval of anyone in a public government agency.
When asked, Health Minister Chris Fearne, her direct superior who repeatedly gave her a controversial €163,000 job as his person of trust, did not respond to questions on whether he had ordered Ciantar’s suspension.
FMS officials had told The Shift that Ciantar’s decisions to leave and return on her own steam did not follow any protocol and made the FMS look more like a “kingdom than a proper public workplace”.
Ciantar did not reply to questions from The Shift about whether some separate disciplinary procedures apply specifically to the CEO apart from the published ones.
The Shift is informed that while on self-suspension, Ciantar did not receive her remuneration, which amounts to a net salary of €7,117 every four weeks, apart from other perks.