French baker fined 3,000 euros for working too hard

In France, everyone is required to take a day off per week - even if you run your own business.
In France, everyone is required to take a day off per week - even if you run your own business. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (WASHINGTON POST) - The French appreciate their holidays so much that one small business owner was fined 3,000 euro (S$4,800) for not taking one.

In France, everyone is required to take a day off per week. Even if you run your own business. That lesson was learned the hard way by Cedric Vaivre, who owns a bakery in the tourist region of Lake Bakey in Lusigny-sur-Barse, which is about 120 miles south-east of Paris.

To meet the demands of the summer season, Vaivre made fresh croissants and baguettes seven days a week.

However, local labour laws state that small businesses can only work six out of seven days maximum. The laws are there to protect workers from exploitation.

In fact, bakeries, which are known to push their employees to work at all hours of the night, are particularly under scrutiny in France.

"These kind of laws are killing our businesses," Christian Branle, the town's mayor, told The Mirror.

"You have to show some common sense if you're a small rural community in an area where there is not a lot of competition."

Many proprietors in French towns like Lusigny-sur-Barse depend on the summer tourist trade for their livelihoods, and prohibiting them from opening every day cuts heavily into their profits.

"We need to allow people to work when visitors need this service," Branle said.

Some customers who enjoy the baker's fresh bread every morning called the fine "disgusting" and now more than 500 people have signed a petition supporting his right to work a full seven days.

Vaivre has yet to pay the fine.