Alexandra Aguilar
Director at BLP
Costa Rica
alaguilar@blplegal.com 

In a few months, the World Cup, one of the most anticipated sporting events—in our county at least–begins. As we all know, the tournament will be held in Qatar and has created much expectation, either because the National Team will be one of the protagonists or because we want to watch and be attentive to the matches and results of our favorite teams. 

Against this backdrop, and from the perspective of the labor relationship, employers must consider certain aspects so that both employers and employees are clear about the rules of the game and thus avoid the issuance of yellow or red cards (understood in the labor field as warnings or dismissals). 

If a match coincides with the workday, employees must remember to comply with the internal guidelines of the employment contract, as well as under article 71 subparagraphs a) and b) of the Labor Code. There is no implicit permission to watch or listen to the games, including those of the National Team, during work. Any breach in this regard could result in disciplinary sanctions.  

Similarly, since there is no implicit permission to arrive late to the workplace or leave it early when matches occur before or after work hours, there is no justification for abbreviating the workday to accommodate game time. 

Also, given the World Cup fever, employees may want to wear the national teams in the workplace during the workday or while connected to video calls. However, if the employer’s dress code prohibits such a display of team loyalty, sartorial support may incur censure.  

On the other hand, employees who work remotely should remember that even outside the workplace, they must perform their job with the same attention and quality as always, especially during this World Cup season. 

Another common occurrence during the World Cup is for employees to get distracted talking about the matches or exchanging messages, even though this type of activity is not allowed during the workday. 

Now that we know the rules to avoid a yellow or red card, we should mention that employers, like referees, could use an organizational VAR and review their guidelines to permit watching the matches or engaging in other internal activities related to the World Cup. Consequently, working people will be encouraged by this type of business decision, just as the Ticos (and Ticas!) were encouraged when the referee used this tool to disallow the New Zealand goal that gave us the possibility to attend the World Cup. 

So, try to forego issuing yellow or red cards and consider using the organizational VAR from an employee perspective when necessary.