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Award Leads to Discovery of the ‘Phantom Employee’

Though this Tale is true, it may sound like a workplace fantasy. A federal civil servant in Spain came up for an award for 20-years of loyal service. The problem?  It was discovered that no one had seen him in the workplace for 6 years! Wait, it gets better—he was paid his salary the entire time!

Well, you say, how could no one once notice his absence?  This is where this incredible, or sorry, tale of “el funcionario fantasma” or the “phantom official” as the Spanish press has dubbed him, gets better.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, Joaquin Garcia had worked for the government for 14 years. However, Garcia says he was the victim of “political bullying” because of his family’s political affiliation and was banished from the job he held to one supervising construction at a wastewater plant in Cadiz.

That was a problem. But Garcia said a bigger problem was that he had nothing to do in the new job. At first he did show up, but with nothing to do, he kept staying for less and less time until he just stopped showing up at all. Why didn’t he tell his superiors he had nothing to do?  Among his excuses were:

  • He was afraid he would face age discrimination and not be transferred (he was over 60).
  • He didn’t want to lose this job because he had a family to support.
  • He was afraid the political bullying would start up again.
  • He was, according to The Local, busy using the time to read extensively and become an expert on the philosopher Spinoza.

The other question you must be asking is, why didn’t anyone at the wastewater plant turn Garcia in? Even the plant manager with the office next to him never asked authorities. Among those excuses were:

  • They thought the administration was turned over to local plant management.
  • They thought he retired.
  • They thought he died, and no one had told them.

Ironically, says the BBC, no one had ever checked the payroll to see if Garcia was still on it.  When his extremely poor attendance was discovered, he was taken to court and fined 1 year’s salary, about $41,000 U.S., for his transgression.  He is appealing!

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This post first appeared on HR Daily Advisor, please read the originial post: here

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Award Leads to Discovery of the ‘Phantom Employee’


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