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News that a French employee is suing his employer for more than £200,000 for forcing him out of his job because the work was 'too boring' prompts the question could it happen in the UK?

The employee claimed that years of menial tasks had left him depressed. After being fired in 2014 after seven months' sick leave, he is seeking damages and missed pay.  (See article here).

Last year another case hit the headlines in France when it transpired that a French rail operator had paid an employee more than €5,000 a month for 12 years, plus holiday bonuses, even though he had not worked a single day. He sued, claiming that he had lost out on the prospect of promotion.

Apparently so-called 'bore out' is not an unusual phenomenon, with France's harsh employment laws being to blame. The rationale, one supposes, is that it is easier to have an employee sit at work under occupied and still drawing salary, than it is to dismiss them. Presumably the business still gets some value and, after a while, it might be hoped that the employee simply looks for another job.

Could the same sort of thing happen in the UK? Generally speaking, provided an employer pays an employee, they are not obliged to provide them with work. However as any employment lawyer would doubtlessly point out, sidelining an employee and condemning them to menial tasks, may amount to constructive unfair dismissal.

It is not uncommon for staff to get sidelined but given the relative ease with which UK employees can be dismissed, any sidelining is usually a fair indication that a redundancy is in the wings.

Sarah Rushton (

This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.


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