By: Mark F. Kluger and William H. Healey
Like everything else in the world, even the Super Bowl has employment law implications. The top three:
In the days leading up to the big game, many employees are distracted during work hours not only by office pools, but by persistent in-house chatter and debate from employees whose talk radio commentator talents are being wasted while they toil at their mundane job in your office.
The national executive search firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, estimates that the nationwide impact of employees discussing the game, participating in office pools and planning Super Bowl parties, costs employers a whopping $290 million for every 10 minutes of unproductive work time. Wow!
And don’t get us started on Fantasy Football. But since you asked, last year Challenger Gray’s study (which is very scientific) estimates that employee participation in Fantasy Football leagues resulted in a $16.8 billion (with a “b”) annual productivity drain to American employers.
Every office has them (except us), but under the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, sports gambling, even in an office pool, is illegal. But don’t expect the FBI SWAT team to repel down the side of your building; their enforcement resources are likely deployed elsewhere. State laws vary, however. Some make “social betting,” including office pools, a misdemeanor. New Jersey and New York gambling laws have exceptions for office pools provided that: (1) the organizers do not take a portion of the proceeds and (2) employees from offices in other states do not participate (which might alert the feds to the interstate gambling).
What the Heck is Smunday?
More than 111 million Americans are estimated to watch the 2017 game. Almost 60% of those viewers are employed. The beer and wings flow all night and the game ends late. According to the Challenger Gray report, if every employee comes in one hour late or spends an hour talking about the game, that day will cost American employers $1.7 billion in lost productivity.
In referring to the day after the Super Bowl, Kraft Heinz contends that “we as a nation should stop settling for it being the worst workday of the year.” In fact, the ketchup giant has given all of its employees Monday off and has started an online petition to make the day after the game a national holiday known as “Smunday.” Kraft Heinz estimates that 16 million employees will call out “sick” on Monday and pleads for signatures on its petition, “For your Sanity. For your family. For your country.” The petition itself states, “If we get over 100,000 signatures it will be sent to Congress.” That’s a good idea because Congress has nothing important going on now anyway. More than 45,000 ketchup lovers have signed already.
Don’t worry fans, March Madness is about a month away.