Definitions

applying to

Work-to-rule

Work-to-rule is an industrial action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of a workplace, and follow safety or other regulations to the letter in order to cause a slowdown rather than to serve their purpose. This is considered less disruptive than a strike or lockout; and just obeying the rules is less susceptible to disciplinary action. Notable examples have included nurses refusing to answer telephones and high school teachers refusing to write recommendation letters for their students' college applications.

Sometimes the term "rule-book slowdown" is used in a slightly different sense than "work-to-rule": the former involves applying to the letter rules that are normally set aside or interpreted less literally to increase efficiency; the latter, refraining from activities which are customary but not required by rule or job description. But the terms may be used synonymously.

Sometimes work-to-rule can be considered malicious compliance by employers as they pursue legal action.

In some languages (e.g. Russian) it is known as "Italian strike", as it is believed that it was first utilized in Italy in the 1904. In Italy, it is known as "sciopero bianco" or "white strike".

In popular culture

In the 2006 Corner Gas episode "Dog River Dave", the local police department works-to-rule, which ironically leads to them doing more work than they had been accustomed to.

References

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