Murray's net loss for UK plc

Andy Murray's match at Wimbledon today could be a expensive business for UK employers...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Murray is due to take on Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal in an eagerly anticipated quarter-final showdown at Wimbledon today, and public interest in the sulky Scot is at an all-time high. Murray’s rain-interrupted plucky straight sets defeat – sorry, noble effort to dethrone the world No.2 – is expected to attract a TV audience of over 7m viewers. And that could equate to a lot of bunking-off.

Starved as we are of sporting success, British workers are all too keen to dodge work to see their favourites' rare appearances on the big stage – and it’s leaving UK plc out of pocket. Research shows that work-dodging employees are already costing British business a massive £1m a week, adding to Britain’s £13bn absenteeism problem. 

And while it’s difficult to predict what the cost will be of the one-off Murray match, it’s not so difficult to predict the excuses that British workers will offer as they take the day (or half-day) off. Employment experts reckon the top three excuses will be: ‘a doctor’s appointment’, ‘a long lunch’, or ‘an out-of-the-office meeting’. Murray will need to be a little more imaginative than that if he wants to beat Nadal…

But never fear. British employers are rallying behind a new scheme: spoilsport personnel software company Employersafe is helping a growing number of companies tackle the problem using a computer programme that tracks patterns in workers’ absences – and flags it up if they tie in with major sporting events. And should companies decide they want to take disciplinary action against the sports-loving slackers, the software can also guide them through the legal process. Game, set and match to employers, perhaps?

But while we'd never condone work-dodging here at MT, perhaps the techies’ time would be better spent devising some kind of software that would help more Brits win things. That way, days like this would come along more often, and maybe we’d be less tempted to bunk off in the slim hope of seeing a rare moment of national sporting glory. Surely that would be a more lucrative racket...

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