Whilst stress claims relating to overwork are not uncommon in the UK, there have been no similar claims for underwork.
In the French case reported below, the employee was awarded compensation for “bore-out” i.e. being given no work to do leading to humiliation and ultimately, a nervous breakdown resulting in his dismissal in 2014 for a prolonged absence. The Court held the “boredom and lack of activity” imposed by his employer amounted to a form of harassment.
Failing to provide work is a tactic often used by employers to force employees to leave without paying compensation, as was implied in this case. UK legal remedies would be to resign and claim constructive dismissal (2+ years’ service required) and/or harassment if discrimination applies (no minimum service required). Such conduct could also be considered a form of bullying but whilst acknowledged as a workplace problem, there is no legal definition of bullying and thus no stand-alone claim. Without discrimination or unfair dismissal rights, it is possible to bring a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act in the County Court but this is more complex.
Personal injury claims for workplace stress tend to be complex and it would be interesting to see how UK Courts would handle a claim for underwork rather than overwork.
Perhaps we will also adopt a similar term to “placardiser” i.e. shunted off to the (metaphorical) cupboard or simply shunted aside.
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