News Feature | February 18, 2016

Water Worker Skips Work, Collects Checks For Six Years

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Does taking six years of paid vacation sound like a dream come true?

It recently came to light that an employee at a water treatment plant in Spain did just that, staying on the government payroll without attending work. He was making about $41,500 per year.

“A Spanish civil servant who failed to turn up for work for ‘at least’ six years has been caught after becoming eligible for a long service award. Joaquin Garcia, 69, was fined €27,000 ($30,000) after the award brought his long absence to light,” the BBC reported.

Garcia, who has since retired, denies the allegations. His lawyer says he is suffering a “lynching” in the media. He is petitioning the government to retract the fine. Now 69, he claims “that he was the victim of workplace bullying and had turned up each day only to find he had no work to do,” The Local reported. His friends claim fear of retribution prevented him from reporting the bullying.

Deputy Mayor Jorge Blas Fernández originally gave him the job. "I wondered whether he was still working there, had he retired, had he died? But the payroll showed he was still receiving a salary," Fernández explained. "I called him up and asked him ´What did you do yesterday? The month before, the month before that?' He didn’t know what to say."

Why didn’t anyone notice? “Garcia's water company coworkers thought the plant was being overseen by local authorities because they hadn't seen Garcia in so long,” The Huffington Post reported.

How did Garcia pass the time while he wasn’t working?

“People close to Garcia told El Mundo that he dedicated himself to reading philosophy instead,” The Huffington Post reported.

For similar stories, visit Water Online’s Labor Solutions Center.