Andy Murray winning Wimbledon this year could cost the British economy up to £3.2 billion in lost productivity as millions of fans take unauthorised leave or throw a sickie to watch this year’s prestigious tennis tournament, according to employment law experts ELAS.
Just over 13 million people tuned into watch Andy Murray win his Friday semi-final in 2013, with each men’s match that year pulling in an average of 11.4 million viewers.
According to a survey commissioned by ELAS of 1,500 workers across the UK, a third (33 per cent) admitted they would be willing to throw a sickie in order to watch a major sporting event, such as Wimbledon.
ELAS head of consultancy, Peter Mooney, says: “With Andy Murray hotly tipped to reach the Wimbledon final again this year and the competition on the whole as popular as ever, people may be more inclined to take time off to watch matches.
“If a third of the UK’s 30 million workers were willing to miss work in favour of watching Wimbledon, taking an average wage of £13 an hour, the cost to the economy could easily reach £3.2 billion, meaning employers should be extra vigilant or risk losing valuable man-hours.
“Employers must ensure they have a robust system in place to spot genuine illness from those who merely fancy a day off. Services such as our own Absence Assist can help mitigate such cases that run the risk of undermining the employer.”
According to the research, some of the most popular excuses for those planning on missing work in order to watch a major sporting event included:
- Sick or migraine (30%)
- ‘Illness’ (12%)
- Stomach bug or diarrhoea (6%)
- Flu/cold (6%)
- Blame a relative/children (5%)
- Food poisoning (3%)
- Death or a funeral (2%)
Other excuses included hay fever attack, lack of sleep, ‘women’s trouble’, a car crash, dental emergency and, perhaps unadvisedly, ‘I’m hungover’.