Quiet Quitting and Options for Employers

“Quiet Quitting” is a term that recently went viral on social media. It describes the trend that many employers may be experiencing in which employees do not go above and beyond at their job and just meet the requirements in their job description.

There are many factors that could be the cause of the quiet quitting trend. Canada is currently experiencing historically low unemployment coupled with a high demand for employees across many sectors. This puts employees are in a strong position to either move jobs or not be worried about not finding a new job if terminated.

Further, during the Covid-19 pandemic many employees experienced burnout at work due to a lack of separation between work and personal life. These employees may have turned to quiet quitting in retaliation to this worker burnout and desire to improve their work-life balance.

Right to Disconnect in Ontario

The desire by employees for improved work-life balance is reflected in Ontario’s recent “Right to Disconnect” policies added to the Employment Standards Act. Employers that employ 25 or more employees are now required to have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place for all employees. They are also required to provide a copy of the written policy to all employees. The term “disconnecting from work” is defined as “being free from performing work”, including emails, telephone calls, etc. The policy came into effect January 1, 2022, with a deadline of June 2, 2022 for employers to have a policy in place. Going forward, employers that employ 25 or more employees on January 1 of any year must have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place before March 1 of that year.

What Can Employers Do?

Employers should clearly define employee expectations. If employees are not going above and beyond what is required in their job description, it is important that all expectations for employees are listed in the employment agreement.

It is also important that employers provide a work environment that incentivizes employees to go above and beyond and prevents worker burnout. If workers are motivated and incentivized to work for their employer, they are more likely to go above and beyond what is explicitly described in their employment agreement. Workers experiencing burnout are also more likely to quiet quit and look for options that provide them a superior work life balance.

New Employment Contract

With many employees merely meeting job requirements, employers may wish to redefine those requirements. Employers can redefine employee expectations in a new employment contract. For the new contract to be enforceable the employee has to receive something additional to their current employment enumeration in return. For example, in exchange for the employee agreeing to a new employment agreement with updated job requirements, the employer can provide the employee increase in salary or other benefits.

Termination

There is nothing stopping an employer from terminating “quiet quitting” employees. At a minimum, employees are entitled to notice when being terminated without cause. If you terminate an employee without cause, there are cost consequences such as providing the employee pay in lieu of notice. If “quit quitting” extends to the employee not meeting the defined requirements of employment, an employer may have just cause to terminate their employee. Contact Walker Law before terminating an employee to minimize costs associated with termination.

Conclusion

Quiet Quitting may be a trend facing employers due in part to the strong labour market and challenges faced by employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. Walker Law has employment litigation lawyers with expertise handling employment dispute matters. If you are an employer who needs advice on how to prevent employees from quiet quitting, or are dealing with employees who are currently participating in quiet quitting, contact Walker Law. You should also contact Walker Law if you have a dispute regarding Ontario’s “Right to Disconnect” legislation.

Tag: Employment Litigation Law

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