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Hierarchical obedience of a public official

Verified 05 November 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Any public official, official or contract staff member shall follow the instructions of his hierarchical superior, unless the order given is manifestly unlawful and may seriously jeopardize a public interest.

All public officials (civil servants or contract staff), whatever their rank in the hierarchy, must comply with and enforce the orders of its superiors.

Instructions may be oral or written.

The obligation of obedience also imposes on the official comply with laws and regulations of all kinds.

Hierarchical subordination requires submit to the supervision of his hierarchical superior.

It also requires the public official to show loyalty in the performance of his duties. A public official shall be responsible for the performance of the tasks entrusted to him. A public official shall not be relieved of his responsibilities by the responsibility of his subordinates.

The obligation to obey may cease in the following situations:

  • The order is manifestly unlawful and may seriously jeopardize the public interest (e.g. an order to grant or deny a benefit for discriminatory grounds)
  • The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a work situation presents a serious and imminent danger to his or her life or health, and can then assert his or her right of withdrawal and get out of this situation
  • In the case of harassment, no penalty may be applied to an officer who has suffered a sexual harassment or moral and who has taken legal action (an agent who reports such acts cannot be punished either)

Any unjustified failure to obey the hierarchical obligation shall expose the staff member to a disciplinary sanction, or even a deduction from remuneration for absence of service.