By Marcus Leach

Millions of employees could tune into Murray-mania in the workplace, while employers decree “business as usual” over Wimbledon.

However, many may not be aware of the legal implications that accompany watching TV in the office, be it on a television or a computer, without a licence.

A TV Licence is legally required on work premises if anyone — whether staff or customers - watches TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, whether on a computer, TV or any other type of equipment. If an employee is caught watching TV illegally, the business may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.

And with British hope Andy Murray hitting top form leading into Wimbledon there will be millions set to tune in at work.

Figures released by TV Licensing from a member poll conducted in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) show that the overwhelming majority of employers (86%) say they won’t be allowing employees “time off” to watch Andy Murray’s pursuit of the Wimbledon Grand Slam title.

However, separate figures suggest this won’t stop people tuning into the tournament:

- 7.1 million people, the largest audience of last year’s tournament, watched Murray’s performance in the 2010 semi-final in the middle of the working day.

- Over half of the UK tuned in (51%) over the course of the competition
6.8 million people watched matches live online last year during last year’s tournament.

With this trend expected to be repeated this year, the chances are that employees across the UK will be cheering on this year’s hopefuls from their desks. TV Licensing is taking this opportunity to remind employers that one TV Licence will cover their office, allowing staff to tune in to matches either on office screens or via their own PCs.

The CIPD, Europe’s largest HR and development professional body, says that staff watching Wimbledon in the workplace is not necessarily bad news for bosses. It could actually be a great opportunity to create a fun and united atmosphere, Dr Jill Miller, research adviser, says:

“Wimbledon is a great British sporting occasion, which captures the nation’s attention for two weeks of the year. Employees following some of the nail-biting action at work, either at their computers or on TV screens around the office, can help build team spirit and morale across the workplace. We know that when employers enable flexibility at work, employees are more likely to ‘go the extra mile’. Depending on business needs, employers may choose to screen matches, perhaps asking people to make up the time afterwards. However, whether employers allow employees to ‘tune in’ or not, the policy should be clearly communicated to the workforce.”

Wimbledon signals the start of the great summer of sport, which many of us will be tuning in to watch whether it is in the traditional way or live online via today’s multitude of TV-viewing gadgets and platforms.

Rose Beynon, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

“It’s fascinating to see how many people are now watching live online, on traditional TV sets or even in 3D. We want to make sure anyone watching TV in the workplace is aware they need to be correctly licensed to do so. Some employers might assume if they don’t have a TV in the building, they don’t need to worry, but the rise of online streaming of live TV programmes means many more businesses need to be covered by a TV Licence nowadays.”

“We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk a court case and a fine. A licence costs £145.50 and can be bought in minutes online at: TV Licensing for Business.”

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