Company discovers man’s six-year absence from work after trying to give him award

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Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(February 14, 2016) – A company discovered an employee’s six-year absence after trying to give him an award. According to The Guardian, Joaquin Garcia, 69, began working for the Spanish local authority in Cadiz in 1990. In 1996, he was sent to work for the local water board, Agua de Cadiz; his job was to oversee a waste water treatment plant. He was paid €37,000 a year before taxes by the company.

In 2010, Garcia became eligible to receive a long service award. Deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernández says Garcia was still on the payroll, but when he went to look for Garcia, he was nowhere to be found. The man who occupied the office next to Garcia said he hadn’t seen the employee in several years.

Fernández called Garcia into work and asked where he had been. “I asked him: what are you doing? What did you do yesterday? And the previous month? He could not answer,” Fernández told The Guardian. That is when Fernández discovered Garcia had not occupied the office for at least six years, and he had done no work between 2007 and 2010. Apparently the confusion occurred because the water company thought he was being supervised by the local authorities and vice versa.

This week a court fined Garcia €27,000 ($30,000), which is the equivalent of one year of his annual salary after taxes.

Garcia is trying to fight the fine, and he told the court he visited the office occasionally, but he didn’t keep regular business hours. He said he was bullied at work because of his family’s socialist politics.

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