The Globe recently published two amusing takes on the subject of “quiet quitting” (“Quiet quitting is a serious threat to our way of life. Just ask Arianna Huffington,” Larry Edelman, Business, Sept. 1; “This headline could be better . . . but whatever, it’s good enough,” Beth Teitell, Page A1, Sept. 21). However, as a writing instructor and a union member, I question the accuracy of the phrase itself.
The main definition of the word “quit” is to stop doing something. However, “quiet quitting” generally refers to doing only what is required of one in a particular job, not to ceasing to do the job entirely. This new term describes not quitting but rather setting boundaries. Teitell’s use of fictional characters such as George Costanza and Homer Simpson trivializes the real issues that workers face. “Quiet quitting” is a recognition that the employer is not entitled to more time than what is being paid for.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for employees to put the brakes on “job creep,” where duties spill into nonworking hours, something that has increased with the ability to connect with employees 24-7. So, employees who refrain from checking e-mails after work hours or on weekends, decide not to open their work laptops at home, or leave the unfinished task until the next workday are not quitting their jobs. They are keeping their employers from engaging in wage theft, the term for extracting unpaid labor from the worker.