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June 24, 2011

Employers risk fines if staff watch Wimbledon at work

Business owners without a TV licence for their premises risk a fine of up to £1,000 if employees watch Wimbledon at work, the licensing authority has warned.

Recent research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 86 per cent of employers won’t be allowing staff time off to watch Wimbledon this year. However, figures from TV Licensing suggest that this may not stop employees following matches at work, as 6.8 million people watched the tennis live online last year.

Businesses are legally required to have a TV licence for any equipment on which live programmes are watched or recorded, including computers and mobile phones as well as TV sets, digital boxes, and DVD or video recorders. However, computer users only need a licence if the viewer watches programmes at the same time they are being broadcast on TV.

If an employee is caught watching programmes illegally, the business may be liable and fined up to £1,000.

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

The CIPD said that while allowing staff to watch Wimbledon at work may affect productivity, it wasn’t entirely bad news for employers. “Employees following some of the nail-biting action, either at their computers or on TV screens around the office, can help build team spirit and morale across the workplace,” said CIPD adviser, Dr Jill Miller.