World Cup in Qatar: Can I watch football at work? – Politics


There is this one question that becomes inevitable this Wednesday around noon. At least that applies to all employees who have decided not to boycott the football World Cup in Qatar in principle, despite all the evil. The question is: Should I – or shouldn’t I?

At 2 p.m. German time, the DFB-Elf will play against Japan in the Khalifa International Stadium, the ball will roll, the spectators will scream, and in the end one team will possibly cheer. It’s just annoying that the average worker is standing at the workbench at this time, caring for people, squatting in the video conference. You know the dilemma from 2002, when Olli Kahn started his parades in Japan and South Korea at noon, or from one or the other preliminary round game of the ill-fated 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Today, as then, there will be a great temptation to let work be work for a moment and watch a bit. Which leads to the next question: What happens when the boss catches you doing it?

The Cologne Labor Court has it given an answer a few years ago, it should not necessarily please the hearts of the fans. At that time, a Ford worker complained about a warning he received after watching a few scenes of the Europa League game Fenerbahçe Istanbul against Lokomotiv Moscow during the shift. The warning was legal, the judges decided, the man had violated his contractual obligations.

As a rule, watching football is therefore forbidden during working hours. Although there is still one or two glimmers of hope, as the employment lawyer Philipp Byers from the law firm Watson Farley & Williams knows. “Anyone who speaks to their manager and gets permission – some are generous, especially during the World Cup – can of course take a look,” he says. And if you don’t want to ask permission, you can at least follow the game on the radio, says Byers. “You can do that if you’re not doing any highly complex work and don’t disturb other employees with the transmission.”

Another loophole: the lunch break. If no fixed time is agreed in the employment contract, an employee can easily put the break in the playing time. “Then you can watch at least half an hour – or, with a daily working time of more than nine hours – a full half-time,” says the employment lawyer. Because that’s how long the prescribed minimum break is. According to Byers, it is even easier for those who work from home. If there is no core working time in the employment contract that affects the playing time, then you can watch, says the lawyer. “Whether you interrupt work and how long you do that is a private matter.” The only requirement is that you make up for the time later or reduce overtime.

If you can’t find a loophole, you can take a look at the game plan. The second game of the DFB-Elf is on Sunday against Spain, the third on Thursday next week against Costa Rica. Kick-off in both cases: at 8 p.m.



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