When Andy Murray was playing his nail biting semi final at Wimbledon, when the birth of Prince George was announced or when England were about to win the Ashes were your staff streaming live TV to their desks sharing in the excitement that is our current immediate news and sport culture? Unless your company policy specifically prohibits such viewing it is more than likely that some of your staff were watching these events at work.

TV Licence Required
We all know that you no longer need a television set to watch TV.  You can watch live TV on a computer, tablet, laptop, mobile phone etc. However, did you know that if that device is plugged into the mains in your premises then your business is required to have a TV licence?  If your business does not have a licence and staff are watching live TV then you are committing an offence and risk a fine of up to £1,000.

You do not need a licence if:

  • devices are only used for CCTV or playing recorded information such as training DVDs or clips on YouTube.  Only live TV needs a licence;
  • employee’s personal devices are purely powered by their internal batteries and not plugged into your mains power supply.

TV Viewing Policy
It is important as a business to decide what your policy on watching TV at work is going to be and to make this clear to staff.  You must also consider whether the business needs a TV licence or not.  TV Licensing recommend that your TV viewing policy is written and posted in your premises so that visiting contractors are also aware of it.  The draft policy on their website is a good place to start.

When drafting a policy consider:

  • Is TV watching at work allowed at all?
  • If so when can staff watch TV
  • Does permission need to be sought on every occasion?
  • Make it clear that watching TV, when it is prohibited or disruptive to work, will be a disciplinary matter and will be dealt with under the Company’s disciplinary procedure.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.