Business Link East is advising employers to seek advice on what to do about giving staff time off to watch the World Cup

AS World Cup fever grips the nation and with nearly half the planned 64 games scheduled to take place during normal UK working hours - including Wednesday's crucial England v Slovenia tie - Government-backed business advisers Business Link East is advising employers to seek advice on what to do about giving staff time off to watch.

Dominic O'Sullivan, Business Link adviser for Cambridgeshire, said: "The World Cup will lead to a number of people wanting time off to enjoy the games. As a result, employers need to prepare for an increase in annual leave requests and the effect this will have on their business. That's where Business Link comes in.

"By visiting businesslink.gov.uk/east or calling 08457 171615, employers can get access to a whole host of information on staff employment regulations, leave-calculators and flexible working guidelines.

"It's important to communicate to staff exactly what your plans are for the World Cup - your flexibility and innovation will be welcomed by staff," he advised.

Business Link's basic game plan for tackling the World Cup has five strands:

Special screenings and events: employers looking to build team spirit with special match screenings need to remember to keep it legal. To show the World Cup on your business premises you will need three licenses: a TV licence, PRS (the Performing Rights Society) licence (call 0800 068 4828) and a PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) licence (call 0207 534 1070).

Staff leave: to avoid staff being tempted to take unauthorised leave, consider offering flexibility to workers, such as flexible hours, time-in-lieu, shift swaps and unpaid leave. It's a good idea to draw up an absence and behaviour policy that can be circulated to staff in advance of games screened during working hours. This should include policies on staff leave, fair play, behaviour, breaks and absence management.

TV, radio and internet policy: a clear TV, radio and internet policy avoids any staff confusion regarding the rules of watching or listening to matches at work. Disruption to other staff should be taken into consideration.

Business continuity: by creating contingency plans during matches you can ensure overall service and customer expectations are maintained.

Marketing opportunities: be aware of how the tournament could affect demand for your products and services, and put operational or promotional measures in place to anticipate or counteract these. If looking into marketing opportunities surrounding the tournament, be aware of FIFA's legal policies regarding the World Cup brand.

INFORMATION: Business Link in the East of England is on 08457 171615 and at www.businesslink.gov.uk/east