As the World Cup approaches, soccer fans across the U.S. will probably be found sitting at their desks at work, computer screens blocked from view while streaming games and attempting to stifle excited outbursts.
But a small, Brazil-based craft beer company recently launched a campaign to ensure that “football” fans won’t have to miss a game because of a silly obligation like work. Through a website and social media, the brewery, Cerveja FOCA, tells fans that football is a religion and that under section 14 of Brazil’s religious freedom law, football followers have a legal right to take off work during games. If you fill out a form on the website, the company promises to notify your employer of the right to religious freedom for soccer fandom.
Sound too good to be true? A Slate Magazine reporter looked into the truth of the company’s claims and found it to be nothing more than a clever advertising campaign.
“The campaign is serious. The football was indeed registered as a religion and now all football fans have the same rights other religions do,” said Lucas Vinicius Silverio, who claimed to be the social media manager for the company. “The employer has to let the employee go to the game. The law is in his side.”
But Professor Homero Batista Mateus da Silva, a labor court judge and professor of labor law at the Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil, said the campaign “is definitely a hoax.” “Brazil has no Religious Freedom Act,” da Silva said. “Our 1988 Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and religion, but with no special labor rights concerning these beliefs.” He says the national labor laws don’t list religious observance as a reason an employee is allowed to take of work, and there isn’t even a “section 14.”
So no matter how sacred soccer is for Brazilians, it looks like they, too, will have to stream games from their cubicle rather than their couch.
Worth Calling in Sick
But let’s face it, streaming a game at work probably isn’t going to win you any points with the boss and certainly won’t enhance your productivity. So think about taking an afternoon off to really enjoy the game, rather than risk reprimanding.
ESPN has even compiled a list of five games worth skipping work for this World Cup. They suggest calling in sick for:
• Spain vs. the Netherlands
Friday, June 13 at 2:30 p.m.
• Portugal vs. Germany
Monday, June 16 at 11:30 a.m.
• Brazil vs. Mexico
Tuesday, June 17 at 2:30 p.m.
• Chile vs. Spain
Wednesday, June 18 at 2:30 p.m.
• Uruguay vs. England
Thursday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m.
Watching At Work
If taking off work isn’t possible, though, there are a few things you can do to be a good employee and a good fan. First, only watch the really important games to minimize the times you’re distracted. While you’re watching, try to keep it down to decrease distractions to co-workers. Also commit to working really hard during half-time—the 45-minute halves can then just be counted as your lunch break…right? And finally, consider following the game on Twitter or another social media outlet so you can catch the highlights. This can minimize distraction and may also be more acceptable to your boss.
The experienced lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys are here to help with any questions you have while on the job. Contact us today.