Long Lunch Break: France Pays €1 Million a Year to ‘Ghost’ Civil Servants Who Don’t Have Jobs


PARIS, France — Regional records have revealed the generous pay packets of a group of so-called ghost civil servants in France, some of whom have not done a day’s work since 1989, who drew combined salaries of one million euros a year.

The group of 30 civil servants who were made redundant when the state water board was privatised but were not taken off the payroll thanks to the French government’s generous labour policies all “worked” in the Provence-Alps-Riviera Regional government.

A report by the state auditor found the “ghost” or “phantom” civil servants had been eligible for automatic seniority-based promotions and pay rises during the time, despite not actually having jobs to do, and were taking home €1 million a year between them, Le Figaro reports.

The investigation found some had been receiving pay for no work since 1989, and one had even claimed he was being discriminated against in his speed of promotion because colleagues that actually worked were moving up the scale more quickly. Others took jobs in the private sector while remaining on the state payroll, and some refused early retirement so they could continue to draw a full salary for longer.

The extraordinary largesse of the French state towards its unemployed employees begs comparison to other civil servants across Europe who have also managed to draw salaries for years despite not working.

In 2018, Spanish civil servant Carles Recio was found to be drawing a salary of €50,000 a year for a job he was accused of not having done any work for in a decade.

Mr Recio was banned from holding a government job for nine years after a tribunal found him guilty of arriving at the office to clock in every morning before leaving again, only to return to clock out again in the afternoon. The civil servant claimed he had merely been working outside the office, although the investigation was unable to turn up any evidence of work he had done in the previous decade, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Another Spanish case in 2016 saw a veteran civil servant rumbled when he was due to be given an award for two decades of service because nobody had seen him in his office in “at least six years”.

He was fined one year’s salary.

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