Joaquín Garcia, a civil servant in Cadiz, Spain who failed to turn up to work for at least six years despite receiving his full salary was ordered on losing his appeal to pay compensation of the maximum award (which is the equivalent of his annual post-tax salary).
Mr Garcia was employed by the local authority in 1990 and was posted to the municipal water board in 1996 to oversee the building of a waste-water treatment plant. Ironically, it wasn’t until Mr Garcia was due to receive a commemorative award for long service that it became apparent that nobody knew where he was. None of his employees at the water board knew where he was and the employee who had an office directly opposite Mr Garcia’s said that he had not been seen for several years. It transpired that the water company thought that he was being supervised by the local authority and vice versa.
A claim was brought against Mr Garcia in 2010, claiming that he hadn’t done any work since 2004, but had still been receiving his salary. Mr Garcia denied the claims and argued that he had occasionally visited his office, but that there was nothing for him to do. He said that he was reluctant to mention this for fear of losing his job.
In response to the claim, Mr Garcia filed a complaint demanding that the man in charge of personnel be disciplined for negligence for not noticing his absence. He also said in his defence that he was the victim of workplace bullying as a result of disagreements between the council and the water company.
Ultimately, Mr Garcia was ordered by Cadiz city hall to pay €27,000 in compensation.
This case highlights the importance of keeping in touch with employees especially where they may be seconded to clients or on placements away from the employer’s main premises.