With the World Cup underway and an HRreview survey revealing that 70% of companies will offer a TV in the office to encourage an engaged and productive workforce, new figures show that 32 per cent of small firms are unaware they need a TV Licence to watch the games online, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

In an FSB-ICM survey of more than 1,300 members, 51 per cent of small businesses said they will let their staff watch key matches in the World Cup tournament as long as their business could continue as usual.

However, with millions of people wanting to watch key games that kick off during office hours and with every game being streamed live online, it is worrying that a third of respondents are unaware they need a TV Licence to watch online.

The FSB is urging all small businesses to ensure they are fully licensed or risk a penalty of up to £1,000. A TV Licence is required by anyone, be it staff or customers that are watching programmes whether on a TV or computer.

The FSB has also issued guidance for employers on how small firms can avoid employment issues during this high-profile month long tournament. The timings of the England matches lend themselves very well to UK working hours. However, the FSB is concerned that as England progresses, working fans may get over exuberant and staff absence due to hangovers will follow.

Mike Cherry, Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The World Cup is kicking off and it is vital that everyone – both staff and employers – get the chance to relax and watch the games without disturbing the running of the business. However, these figures show that a worrying number are not aware they need a TV Licence to watch the matches online, and could risk being fined. So it is imperative that all those small firms that are going to let their staff watch the game are on the ball and ensure they are fully licensed.

“And with half of members letting their staff watch the tournament, both employers and their staff need to look at celebrating the World Cup realistically,
“having engaged with their staff so that they have plans in place to cater for those employees that want to watch the football, as well as those that don’t and might want to work overtime during this period. Sorting these issues out beforehand means everyone can sit back and enjoy the World Cup, without the risk of getting fined and making sure jobs still get done in the workplace.

“The FSB will be following the World Cup and wishes England all the best and looks forward to the team taking us back to a repeat of 1966!”

Ian Fannon, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

“This poll supports our own recent research, which revealed 44 per cent of managers weren’t aware their business needed to be licensed for staff to watch live online.

“Some managers might assume if they don’t have a TV in the building, they don’t need to worry, but the rise of online TV means many more businesses need to be covered by a TV Licence nowadays.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the World Cup without having to worry about facing a different kind of penalty, and we’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk a court case and a fine.”