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The World Cup: can employees get time off for matches?

In Brazil, the national football team’s World Cup match days are treated as an unofficial holiday. What happens in other countries?

It is World Cup season, a very special moment in Brazil. Football becomes the major topic of interest and social interaction, including for those who are only interested every four years. We spend a ridiculous amount of money with stickers, jerseys, and souvenirs. We make betting pools among family, friends and co-workers. We take time off and we have holidays, right? Well, not exactly but it certainly has special ‘jabuticaba’ status and employers need to take this into account. 

Brazilians say that something is a ‘jabuticabato designate a unique feature of our culture and lifestyle, which may often appear absurd to foreigners or to defy logical criticism. Another example is the FGTS, the severance fund employer pay into on employees’ behalf, which is managed by the government.  

Like Carnival, World Cup match days for our national team are ‘unofficial national holidays’ (though please note that Carnival may be a local holiday in certain municipalities, notably, in Rio de Janeiro). It means that workers expect to be discharged from work and employers do not dare rowing against the tide.  

To manage this situation, employers frequently adopt the following alternative arrangements:  

  • Employers may grant breaks during the match and set up screens creating a sort of ‘fanfest’ with music, soft drinks, and snacks.  
  • Alternatively, employers may grant leave or part-time off, entering into agreements to offset the time off against overtime on other days, through an hour account or a holiday swapping scheme. These agreements may be individual (an hour account with a calendar span of 6 months) or collective (an hour account with a calendar span of 12 months or holiday swapping). 


If you have operations in Brazil, whatever arrangements you choose to put in place, just enjoy the party.

For more information about time off work

The view from other places.

Czech Republic:
United Kingdom:
Written by
Veirano Advogados, one of the leading and most renowned Brazilian business and employment law firms.
José Carlos Wahle
Partner - Brazil
Veirano Advogados

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