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3 things you need to know before ‘quiet quitting’

woman working. Getty Images

Instead of going above and beyond at work, a growing number of employees are “quiet quitting.”

The workplace trend, which has taken social media by storm in recent weeks, is the practice of improving one’s work-life balance by only doing what is necessary to stay employed.

This includes following your job description to the letter, taking your full lunch break, leaving work on time and not checking emails outside of office hours.

READ MORE: The ‘big 5’ workplace rights most often overlooked by employees

My firm has received a variety of questions about quiet quitting from employees across the country. Here are the three things people ask most often.

1. Can my employer punish me for quiet quitting?

You can’t be punished for quiet quitting, unless you are responsible for something after work hours that could cause your employer loss or harm.

Prior to the quiet quitting trend, provinces such as Ontario were already taking steps to help employees improve their work-life balance.

The province’s right to disconnect legislation gives some workers the ability to not participate in emails, phone calls and other work-related communications outside of office hours.

READ MORE: 5 of the most common employer mistakes — and what employees can do about them

It’s illegal for your employer to punish you or threaten to punish you for asserting your workplace rights. If your company does, that is likely a reprisal, and you should contact an employment lawyer, like the ones at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, immediately.

2. Can my employer fire me for quiet quitting?

You can be fired for quiet quitting — even if you do exactly what is outlined in your job description. We refer to this as a termination without cause.

Employees can be let go for any reason as long as they receive full severance pay and the reasons for their dismissal are not discriminatory.

READ MORE: What you’re getting wrong about terminations, according to an employment lawyer

What your employer can’t do is fire you for just cause if you decide to quiet quit. This type of termination is reserved for the worst kinds of workplace offences and prevents you from receiving a severance package or employment insurance benefits.

In order to justify dismissing you for just cause, your company would have to prove that a lesser punishment would be inappropriate.

3. Instead of quiet quitting, should I just quit?

Generally, you aren’t entitled to severance pay if you decide to resign from your position voluntarily.

The goal of a severance package is to help you pay bills and put food on the table while you look for new work after being fired or laid off.

READ MORE: Law firm’s tool helps employees figure out how much severance they’re owed if fired

If you are thinking about quiet quitting because your employer is making significant and unwanted changes to your job, you might be able to quit and still receive full severance pay.

When the terms of your employment are changed substantially, the law allows you to resign and seek compensation through a constructive dismissal claim.

If you believe that you have been constructively dismissed, you can use my firm’s free Pocket Employment Lawyer tool to better understand your workplace rights and how an employment lawyer can help.

Speak to an employment lawyer before quiet quitting

You have rights if you find yourself in a stressful work environment. If your employer is expecting you to go above and beyond during and after office hours, contact the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Our lawyers can review your situation and ensure that your workplace rights are properly enforced.

READ MORE: 5 of the most common work situations where getting an employment lawyer can help


Asked to go above and beyond at work? Is your employer threatening to punish or fire you if you don’t?

Contact the firm or call 1-855-821-5900 to secure assistance from an employment lawyer in Ontario, Alberta or British Columbia. Get the advice you need — and the compensation you deserve.

Lior Samfiru is an employment lawyer and co-founding partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, Canada’s most positively reviewed law firm specializing in employment law and long-term disability claims. He provides free advice as the host of Canada’s only Employment Law Show on TV and radio.

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