Bored at work? Take it to court!
Let’s admit it - at some point or other we’ve all been bored at work. Even the most interesting and challenging roles can have their ‘down days’ where workloads are light or repetitive tasks land on our desk.
However, spare a thought for Frederic Desnard, a French employee who is suing his ex-employer for the equivalent of £282,000 in compensation. Mr Desnard claims that his managerial role at French perfumiers Interparfum was so tedious and devoid of responsibility that he suffered ‘bore out.’ Mr Desnard claims that he was essentially side-lined by his employer and given menial tasks or little to no work before finally being made redundant. The stress and lack of stimulation, he claims, resulted in serious depression and even triggered an epileptic fit whilst driving. As such, the majority of his claim for £282,000 is comprised of compensation for personal injury, but also includes claims for holiday pay and the detrimental impact this has had on his future career prospects.
This is a somewhat unusual case given that we tend to associate stress cases with excessive hours, undue pressure and unrealistic targets. But this does not necessarily mean this type of case could not succeed here in theory. The Working Time Regulations 1998 provide for adequate rest breaks for workers whose health and safety could be at risk due to the performance of monotonous tasks. In practice, however, this is more likely to cover blue collar workers performing assembly-line type of work.
If an employee feels that they have been side-lined and given overly monotonous tasks, the most usual first step would be for them to raise a complaint with their employer. Should the situation continue after that, in English law the employee may have a constructive dismissal argument – i.e. that they were entitled to resign because their employer’s treatment of them(whether deliberate or neglectful) had breached their contract.
To date, no decision has been made in Mr Desnard’s case. It will be interesting to see whether this type of case (the first of its kind in France) will curry favour with the French Employment Tribunal and,if in the unlikely event it does, whether such cases will follow in the UK.
Samantha Prosser is a solicitor at leading senior executive employment law firm BDBF.