Sisters-in-law: Legal advice on performance management to quit smoking peacefully


Welcome to Sisters In Law,’s weekly column solving all your legal problems. This week, our Resident Advocates and Real Sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett of Maurice Blackburn advise us on managing performance in a job.


I work for a tech start-up that expects its people to excel. Before the pandemic, I regularly worked 50-plus-hour weeks, worked weekends, and answered emails in the evening. But the lockdown made me re-prioritize my life and decided to work to live instead of live to work.

Slowly over the past year I have put more boundaries in place at work. I’m trying to work my 37.5 paid hours, I’ve deleted my email from my cell phone, and I don’t work weekends anymore – ever. I believe the phrase for what I do is called “taking it easy”, but I like to call it “doing my job during the hours I get paid”.

Recently, my boss pulled me aside to say that she had noticed that I wasn’t “putting in the hours anymore” and that I might have to go into “performance management” if my “attitude wasn’t improving. not “. She added that “putting more” is part of the “culture” of our workplace.

I don’t have a bad attitude – I just don’t want to half kill myself to get the job done anymore. What are my rights ? I feel like they are trying to manage my performance outside of a job. – Harry, New South Wales


For those who don’t know, the new term ‘quietly stop’ it’s rejecting the hustle culture or the idea that work should take over your life and simply do what is required of you in your role.

This may include not staying late without paying, not responding to emails, or answering calls outside normal working hours.

During the Covid lockdown it may have seemed like there was nothing to do but work so people stayed in line working longer hours resulting in overtime no remunerated and possibly negative impacts on a person’s mental health.

It seems your real concern is that your boss is trying to performance-manage you because you no longer subscribe to that old choppy work culture.

You cannot be fired for doing what is expected of you in your job – you should review your employment contract and job description to ensure that you have not unknowingly failed to meet the requirements of your role .

Your employment may be terminated if you do not meet the requirements of your role.

In addition to reviewing your employment contract and job description, you should also review your employer’s policies and practices regarding your role and what is expected of you.

If it’s not clear, you should speak with your boss and ask them to explain your role expectations and let you know of any expectations you’re not meeting – then ask for it in writing.

It sounds like your employer has unreasonably high expectations. There is a fine line between an employer sharing concerns about your job performance and bullying.

If you think the line has been crossed and it happens repeatedly over a period of time impacting your health and safety, it could constitute workplace bullying, which is illegal.

You should also find out if there are any rules, policies, or procedures your employer must follow to deal with underperformance.

These may be outlined in your award, registered agreement, employment contract, or workplace policy.

Your boss should not take disciplinary action against you without good cause and without following due process.

Disciplinary action could include a written warning about your apparent underperformance, which would detail the reason(s) for the warning, your employer’s expectations and the consequences of not improving your performance within a reasonable time.

Terminating your job should only be a last resort if you continue to fail to meet reasonable expectations.

If you are ultimately fired and believe it was done unfairly, you should consider filing a wrongful dismissal complaint with the Fair Work Commission.

Strict deadlines apply and complex legal issues surround this area of ​​law. You should therefore quickly seek legal advice if you find yourself in this situation.

This legal information is general in nature and should not be considered or relied upon as specific legal advice. Persons requiring specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.

If you have a legal question you would like Alison and Jillian answered, please email [email protected]

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Originally published as Sisters-in-law: what if your boss’s performance prevents you from quitting smoking quietly?


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