French civil servant rapped over tell-all book

A FRENCH civil servant, who wrote a book portraying her colleagues as slackers who hold long meetings without ever coming to a decision, risks being suspended from her job.

The 30-year-old woman, who goes by the pen name Zoe Shepard, has been dubbed the “Bridget Jones” of the French public service after she released “Absolument Debordee” (Absolutely Snowed Under) in March this year.

The subtitle of the book is “How to work 35 hours . . . in one month”.

The writer worked for the Aquitaine regional authority in south-west France since 2007 after graduating from the INET institute of regional administration.

In her book, she described how she managed to do in a few hours what her colleagues would do in a week and scoffed at the “magic words” she served up to the jury during the highly-selective interview process.

But on Thursday a disciplinary committee of the Aquitaine regional council recommended “Zoe Shepard” be suspended from her post for two years without pay.

“The words used were extremely offensive and they constitute an unprecedented lapse in terms of the duty to preserve confidentiality,” said Bernard Boyer, the lawyer for the regional council.

A final decision now rests with the regional council which has a month to rule on the suspension.

The writer said: “One day, I was given a five-day assignment to change the font on a document. There were also the never-ending aimless meetings . . . and the waste. That was really shocking,” she said.

With more than five million employees, the civil service is by far the country’s biggest employer and many young French aspire to a job as a state functionary.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox