We do like a good giggle in the office, and on occasion employment law can cause such giggles. Reports of a recent case caught our attention, although it did happen in France and has no bearing whatsoever on UK employment law!
In the French case, an employee (who had been made redundant) has taken his former employer to court because he said he was given so little work to do that the tedium caused him to “descend into hell” and suffer burn out. He is seeking 360,000 Euros in compensation. He alleges he deliberately had his duties removed, and was given a few menial tasks that had nothing to do with what he had originally been employed to do. He claims it made him feel ashamed to be paid for doing nothing and this led to quite serious health problems.
However, it seems the employee never actually complained he was bored whilst he was employed, and certainly the employer in question seems prepared to defend the case.
We have never heard of such case, and indeed, there has never been one reported in the UK. Certainly if a similar case was raised in the UK Employment Tribunals, the fact that the employee had never raised any formal grievance would mean they were unlikely to succeed in their claim.
As an employer, if it was brought to your attention that employees had little or no work to do, especially on an on-going basis, then perhaps that would be the time to consider whether:
- You need to make redundancies to reduce the workforce;
- To consider lay-offs; or
- Provide opportunities for employees to take career breaks, or be seconded to other parts of the business.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).