The hard-to-believe story of Bosko Herman was being told around France on Monday.
It has emerged that 55-year-old Herman, a senior civil servant or fonctionnaire as they are called in France, has been banking a salary of nearly €4,000 a month for 10 years, without actually doing a day's work.
The €3,700-a-month salary equates to over €500,000 over the 10 years and will be a few hundred thousand more by 2023, the year when his salary can no longer be paid – because he will have retired.
Herman spent five years between 2001 and 2006 as the “general director of services” for the Town Hall in Saint-Savine, near Troyes in eastern France.
When a new mayor was elected in 2006 Herman was let go after a “personal disagreement” with the new man in charge.
According to reports in the French press he was “invited” to work for another Town Hall, in Vitry-le-François but things did not work out for reasons that have not been made clear.
What is clear however is that his old paymasters, the Town Hall (Mairie) in Saint-Savine, were required to pay 75 percent of his salary until he found a new job. A bill they are still paying to this day.
The other 25 percent was paid by a civil service management centre tasked with finding roles for staff, reports say.
The bizarre, head-shaking scenario, described as “Kafkaesque” by the French media, came about because of a 1984 rule in the French civil service that protects people in his role (general director of services) at each Town Hall.
'49 job applications sent off'
The rule states that when a director is moved on from a municipality for whatever reason, then their former bosses must pay a part of their salary until they find an "equivalent job".
The clause is titled “civil servants momentarily deprived of a job”.
According to Le Figaro newspaper Herman's situation is not a one-off. Some 150 civil servants in France are currently being paid whilst they are “momentarily deprived of a job”.
While some may point the finger at Herman and wonder why he hasn't found himself an equivalent job, well it wasn't for the lack of trying apparently.
“He's not been sitting on his hands doing nothing,” said Yves Labouré from the Aube department's civil service management centre, tasked with helping Herman find a job.
“In 2015 he sent off 49 job applications and by August 2016 he had sent off another 34," he told Le Figaro.
Herman's story will give ammunition to those like Nicolas Sarkozy who desperately want to cut thousands of jobs in France's civil service.
Almost one in five workers are employed in France's civil service and it is often a dream job for many employees, in part due to the job security that is offered.
While Herman's story will shock many it's not quite as alarming as the tale of Charles Simon.
The manager was paid more than €5,000 a month by state rail operator SNCF over a period of 12 years, despite not working for a single day.
“Each month I receive a pay slip and a transfer into my bank,” Simon told BFM TV. “Last month, like every month of June over the years, I received a €600 holiday bonus.”
But despite receiving his healthy wage packet each month, Simon was not happy at having to "work from home" all this time and has accused SNCF of ruining his career.
He demanded €500,000 in compensation.