A young England fan cheers on his side during the International Friendly match between England and Mexico at Wembley Stadium on May 24, 2010 in London, England. ((Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) )

Britain's trade unions are asking companies to let employees watch the World Cup at work to prevent them from faking sickness during England matches.

After many workers called in sick during the 2006 World Cup, the Trade Union Council said Thursday that companies should allow televisions in the workplace or introduce flexible working hours during the June 11-July 11 tournament.

England's group matches against the United States and Algeria are scheduled to kick-off in the evening but its June 23 game with Slovenia, which could decide whether England progresses to the next round, starts at 3 p.m. British time.

"The best way to ease tensions is for employers to discuss the issue with staff," TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said.

"Rather than impose a blanket ban on football and run the risk of demotivating staff and losing hours through unauthorized 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."

That final group match is the only one involving England likely to affect those working traditional office hours. If England progresses to the second round or beyond, it can only be involved in fixtures scheduled for evenings or weekends.

"People in England work the longest hours in Europe and we believe rigid working hours contribute to their unhappiness," Barber said. "Allowing people more flexibility makes them happier and ultimately more productive for their employers."

The TUC added that companies needed to be mindful of the fact that many workers in Britain will be supporting other nations.

Although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland did not qualify for the showpiece, the last national census in 2001 showed that 8.3 per cent of Britain's population was born overseas.