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 orlockout; and just obeying the rules is less susceptible to disciplinary action. Notable examples have included nurses refusing to answer telephones and police officers refusing to hand out tickets.
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 and Hebrew) it is known as \”Italian strike\”, as it is believed that it was first utilized in Italy in 1904. In Italy, it is known as \”sciopero bianco\” or \”white strike\”.