Are you reading this sat at work, bored out of your mind? Then perhaps you are a "professional zombie". This term has been coined to describe an employee who is bored because they have been given no good work to do by their employer - and one individual in France is suing his employer for this.
This above case gives rise to interesting questions about an employer's obligation to provide an employee with work. The basic premise is that providing the employer is paying the employee as usual, it does not matter if the employee has no work or only boring work to do. That said, there can be some circumstances where this is not the case, for example:
- Work given to the employee should be in line with their job role and description, otherwise there may be potential arguments about breach of contract (although many savvy employers will try to build in flexibility to their job descriptions and roles);
- For employees who only earn pay for the work done or get commission-based payments, withholding of work would be seriously damaging as it would adversely impact on their levels of remuneration; and
- If the work given is truly unsuitable for the seniority of the employee or is deliberately basic in an attempt to de-skill the employee (for example, let's assume the employee is working their notice period and will be leaving the employer's business soon), then there could be constructive dismissal allegations.
So, if you are a professional zombie, perhaps liven up your day by thinking about whether there has been any wrongdoing by your employer. However, work that is suitable for your seniority and role but is simply plain boring, does not qualify!
Are you what Frédérick Desnard, who’s suing his former employer in France for boredom, says he became? Are you a “professional zombie”? Desnard is suing his ex-employer, Interparfums, a fragrance company, for “bore out” and claiming €360,000 (£300,000). He alleges that he was stripped of his managerial role and, instead, given tedious things to do, which were completely unrelated to his job. This “descent into hell”, according to Desnard, left him “destroyed” with “serious depression”.