Warning over World Cup 'sickies'
Union leaders have urged firms to let workers watch World Cup games or risk having staff throw "sickies" to follow their team in the football tournament.
The TUC said "everyone wins" if staff can watch games away from work or in an appropriate place on company premises, and then make up the time afterwards.
Rather than having to discipline staff for taking unauthorised time off sick, the union organisation said next month's football extravaganza was a perfect opportunity for employers to introduce flexible working hours.
The TUC said flexible working had real benefits for businesses and for their workforces, and called on those employers yet to embrace greater flexibility to use the World Cup as an opportunity to try it out.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Of course some people won't want to watch the World Cup, but for those who would like to follow games at home, in the pub, or on the radio or internet at work, the best way to ease tensions is for employers to discuss the issue with staff.
"Rather than impose a blanket ban on football, and run the risk of de-motivating staff and losing hours through unauthorised sick days, we would encourage employers to let people watch the games if they like - and claim back their time afterwards. That way, everyone wins.
"People in England work the longest hours in Europe and we believe rigid working hours contribute to their unhappiness.
"Whether it's about watching great sporting events like the World Cup or collecting children from school, allowing people more flexibility makes them happier and, ultimately, more productive for their employers.
"Employers who adopt flexible working patterns see the benefits because their production rates go up, they have less absenteeism and a more contented workforce."
The World Cup, taking place between June 11 and July 11, has televised games kicking off at various times, with some matches starting at 1.30pm UK time.