This week. Jill and Dana tackle the newly-popularized-by-Tik Tok concept of “quiet quitting”. Jill and Dana start our by addressing the elephant in the room and admitting they are indeed NOT cool Tik Tokers. Listen as they break down the idea of quiet quitting in the context of employment law, diving into rules about overtime, change of duties, insubordination, and the right to disconnect.

Full episode transcript below: 

Intro: This podcast is produced by Nelligan Law.

Dana DuPerron: Welcome to All Worked Up, the podcast where two employment lawyers break down real-life workplace issues that affect real people.

Jill Lewis: And we’re super excited to bring you this podcast aimed at making employment issues interesting, accessible for employees and employers. Welcome to All Worked Up. I’m Jill –

Dana DuPerron: And I’m Dana [laughs]. I’m Dana, shh …

Jill Lewis: I can’t do it. I can’t do it.

Dana DuPerron: What are we worked about? Shh, we’re all worked up about quietly quitting. What? About what?

Jill Lewis: About …

Dana DuPerron: Quietly quitting.

Jill Lewis: OK [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: [Laughs] Hashtag.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, hashtag. It’s all over the place these days, right, we’re hearing about quietly quitting –

Jill Lewis: I had no idea what it meant.

Dana DuPerron: No. I assumed that it was people who were looking for other jobs while they’re still working and –

Jill Lewis: Yes, not doing their work and pretending they were or something [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. Yeah, or and then just leaving, just going and working somewhere else and never telling anyone.

Jill Lewis: That is exactly what I thought quietly quitting was or –

Dana DuPerron: It’s not?

Jill Lewis: – like somebody was attaching a mouse to like a remote-control car and, you know, it looked like they were still working.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. Yeah, and working from home.

Jill Lewis: OK. So I actually had to google what it meant –

Dana DuPerron: OK.

Jill Lewis: – because I’m not a TikToker and I was not aware. So quietly quitting is the idea that employees are just doing the bare minimums or just doing what their job description is within the hours that they’re being paid. Not going above and beyond. And am I missing – is that …

Dana DuPerron: No. So I have to say right now that we have a producer, who you can’t see or hear, and she is nodding. And she is cooler than us and she knows –

Jill Lewis: [AC? 00:01:43], did I get it?

Dana DuPerron: – more things than us.

Jill Lewis: Did I get it right? Am I missing anything?

Dana DuPerron: No.

Jill Lewis: OK.

Dana DuPerron: That’s what I understand it to be.

Jill Lewis: OK, yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, is that it’s just you are not doing that extra and –

Jill Lewis: Can I just say then that quietly quitting doesn’t really match the description.

Dana DuPerron: OK, I would say –

Jill Lewis: OK, that’s it.

Dana DuPerron: No, no …

Jill Lewis: I’m just going to say it to the TikTokers.

AC: It’s quiet quitting.

Dana DuPerron: [Laughs] Well …

Jill Lewis: Did we pick that up, did we pick that up [laughs]?

Dana DuPerron: We love – yeah [laughs].

Jill Lewis: OK, so –

Dana DuPerron: We’re going to restart that.

Jill Lewis: So we just – so we’ve just been – we just been –

Dana DuPerron: We’re not going to restart it; we’re not going back to the beginning but if –

Jill Lewis: Excuse me, breaking news. We’ve just been informed that we are 100 years old Dana and I.

Dana DuPerron: I’m not on TikTok that’s – you already said.

Jill Lewis: And our much cooler producer has just notified us that it is actually quiet quitting, not quietly [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: So love a good advert but apparently, we were wrong there.

Jill Lewis: So what do we want to talk about quiet quitting and our legal rights around quiet quitting?

Dana DuPerron: So this is –

Jill Lewis: What are our legal rights?

Dana DuPerron: – this is something that’s got us all worked up and it’s not as much within our legal capacity. OK, legally your workplace pays you generally for a certain number of hours per week.

Jill Lewis: Yeah. It usually says in your contract 35-ish, but it will usually say you could be required to work more.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. If you’re in Ontario, unless you’re in certain roles, you have to be paid overtime if you’re over 44 hours a week and there are maximum hours in a week that you can work.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Managers generally have to do whatever has to get done to do their jobs. Now quietly quitting [laughs] –

Jill Lewis: Quiet quitting [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: OK, quiet quitting, if your – so my understanding is like not going above and beyond.

Jill Lewis: Yes.

Dana DuPerron: Now if your boss says to you, “Within this 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I need you to be doing this instead” –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – and is asking you to do specific duties and you refuse to do those, you’re going to have a bit of a problem typically.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Like I can refer you back to –

Jill Lewis: Yeah, it’s insubordination.

Dana DuPerron: – our constructive dismissal episode and whether or not – but like, you know. So a change of duties or like, “Can you do this instead” or whatever, yeah, if you’re saying no –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: You got to be really confident that that’s not within the reasonable range of your duties if you’re going to refuse a job –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – that is during work hours.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: If you start saying no, that could be –

Dana DuPerron: Those are tasks that you could do, yeah.

Jill Lewis: – that could be insubordination. You could be fired for cause.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: So careful TikTokers and your quietly quitting. No.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Jill Lewis: Just make sure that you’re not refusing reasonable work.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: Like we want to make sure that’s clear, right –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – because you could – like this all seems like a very cool fad right now, but like don’t just start refusing jobs that maybe you weren’t doing a few months ago –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – because if they’re still like within the range –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – and it’s within your day then, yeah, your employer can ask you to do that and if you don’t –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, you’re getting paid and what – like those are your hours. But if it’s like, “I’m not going to organize this special after-work event for everyone, like team building thing” –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – or, you know, “I’m not going to go above and beyond and do all this extra stuff” …

Jill Lewis: Yeah, “I’m not going to be in early,” you know, “Be the first one in, last one out,” right.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: Like if I don’t want to do that anymore, that’s – yeah, that is reasonable. You should be working within your hours, you’re not –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – unless you’re getting paid overtime for that.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: So I think that – so I think that is perfectly reasonable wanting to stay within those hours. I think we’ve also – in Ontario we’ve actually leg – we have some legislation around this. It’s the right to disconnect and we talk about that. We have an episode on the right to disconnect. So I think it all is in this same realm, right, is the idea that you are not expected to answer emails outside of the workplace, outside of hours. Sorry, not outside the workplace, outside of work hours.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: Be expected to like be on call when you’re not being paid for something like that.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: So if you actually are in a workplace where you feel that you have to quiet quit because you’re constantly being asked to work like these overtime hours or you’re being contacted after hours, maybe lean on that new right to disconnect like policy.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: I mean everyone’s got to have one now, right.

Dana DuPerron: You could be looking at like overtime claims and stuff too. Those are things to think about in that respect if those are avenues that are open to you.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: We talked about with the right to disconnect, where is the teeth in that legislation. You know, it’s maybe more of a cultural thing. Which kind of brings us to what I’ve seen about this is like employers are kind of mad about it, which I get because it’s like, yeah, free –

Jill Lewis: Because they’re not getting – yeah [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: – work. But it’s like, you know, OK, so what. So what do you do as an employer? Like what if this is a thing – which, you know, we’re not like, what do they call it, sociologists.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: But like what’s prompted this. Is it just that Gen Z, millennials, geriatric millennials like are just –

Jill Lewis: I like that [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: – you know, are just not – like want more work-life balance, don’t want to be working crazy hours. Is it that people are tired after COVID and not being home and like as things are sort of opening up again like want to experience that and not be work –

Jill Lewis: Yeah, yeah.

Dana DuPerron: What is it, I don’t know. But what do you do to deal with it if it is a new – is it a new phenomenon, I don’t know. That we can’t answer.

Jill Lewis: Yeah, yeah.

Dana DuPerron: But if it is, the term’s certainly something we hadn’t even properly heard [laughs].

Jill Lewis: So if you’re an employer and you’re finding that work is not getting done because these people – because your employees are not going above and beyond and working outside their regular hours of work then you should probably hire someone new to take on that work. It sounds like you’ve got a workload issue, right.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, yeah.

Jill Lewis: I mean I think that’s what the TikTokers are saying –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – is that if there’s enough work here then you need to hire somebody else. And if you can’t afford to then, you know maybe take a look then at the work distribution.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: You know, a lot of these like extra duties do fall on certain employees. So, you know, somebody – like when I was an articling student you want to impress so you try and throw the events and you take on a lot of like the volunteer stuff that ends up going into your evenings and stuff. So maybe take a look at that and make sure that everyone is taking a turn at throwing the work social or –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: Yeah, like make sure that everything is being distributed properly. Is there someone that maybe doesn’t have enough work then –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: You know, like I guess that might be one way of looking at it. Also, employers, take a look at your list of duties. So if you have new employees starting maybe you want to be more specific about their duties or broaden them so that these tasks are being captured if you feel people aren’t doing it because they don’t think it’s part of their job description. Yeah, like for employers, like what else – what do you think they could –

Dana DuPerron: People are required to work when they’re getting paid to work.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: You don’t necessarily get to expect people to do more than that. And that’s another thing that I’ve seen a lot lately on Instagram, not on TikTok because I’m not that cool, but is like, you know, this whole rationale of like not everybody wants to move up. Not everybody is looking to progress in their career –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – and they’re just fine with the job that they’re in and they’ll keep doing that job and that’s fine. So when you were talking about like as an articling student –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – taking on more, that’s because you’re trying to make a good impression, you want to get hired back, right.

Jill Lewis: Yeah. Right, right.

Dana DuPerron: That’s the goal, you want to become an associate and then maybe move along that path. If that’s not the goal, there’s less of an impetus to do those extra things. If you’re just like, “You know what, I’m good” –

Jill Lewis: “I’m fine,” yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – and that’s OK.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Like you don’t always have to want to progress. Legal opinion –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: – that’s OK.

Jill Lewis: That’s OK.

Dana DuPerron: You don’t have to want to move up in a job.

Jill Lewis: I think what’s important to people is not showing how busy they are all the time. Like that used to be like, “I am so busy. I’ve got calls, I can’t get off my phone. I’m working weekends” and that really showed somebody’s – like how successful they were. But how that seems to be shifting, where people want the new like display of success is how much time I have off with my family, with my friends, the ability to go on vacation, the ability to have hobbies. The ability to disconnect is that’s really valuable right now and I think that’s what’s shifting the gears and –

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: – I don’t know, I think it’s great. I mean I think it’s important. It helps with mental health, and it keeps people hopefully motivated to still work during the day when they know they don’t have to keep working in the evenings, so I get that.

Dana DuPerron: That’s part of it.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Like we talked about that with the right to disconnect is like if you have this culture where, “OK, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work and then I’m out, I’m off the clock,” you maybe have more energy to devote –

Jill Lewis: Yes, exactly.

Dana DuPerron: – to that time in the day.

Jill Lewis: Yeah, and maybe not resentful.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. And it’s also like if you want people to go above and beyond, I think there has to be a culture that makes people want to go above and beyond.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Whether that’s because it is actually like compensated with pay, time off, not a pizza party or like a webinar.

Jill Lewis: Yeah, a Starbucks gift card.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah, like I mean love the Bucks but like come on I’d rather get the bucks [laughs].

Jill Lewis: The bucks [laughs].

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. So yeah, things to think about. You know, it’s not – outside of the – OK. Employers, you know, make sure that you give yourself leeway in terms of what people’s actual job descriptions are and employees, you got to work when you’re getting paid to work. This isn’t like, “Oh, I’m working from home” taking a nap. Like no, you’re working but beyond that not going above and beyond. I just think it’s so interesting how we’ve seen this sort of break down and like the culture shift and across generations and stuff and then the employer/employee divide on that I think is –

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: I don’t know, maybe is it just a buzzword and I’ll be gone by like next week, maybe.

Jill Lewis: Yeah, probably.

Dana DuPerron: We better get this podcast out but [laughs], you know, I think it’s really interesting and I’ll be interesting to see – interested to see where it goes.

Jill Lewis: I know. And if any case law comes out, I’d love to see a judge tackle this.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah. Well and if we can’t even get quiet quitting right, who knows, maybe there’ll be like silently exiting or something.

Jill Lewis: [Laughs] Exactly.

Dana DuPerron: Silently resigning.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Hashtag.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah [laughs], #sneakyresignation.

Jill Lewis: Yeah.

Dana DuPerron: Anyway, all right well …

Jill Lewis: That’s our opinion on it.

Dana DuPerron: Yeah.

Jill Lewis: So that’s quiet, quiet quitting. OK, talk to you guys next week, shh. OK, bye.

Dana DuPerron: OK, bye.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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