Your company’s travel policy is a necessary document that helps to prioritize your employees, create a healthy work environment, and support your travel budget. But in the face of a global pandemic, how do you rewrite that policy to reflect the current travel circumstances and still have a positive impact on your company? BlueOrange Travel, an experienced and New York City-based agent, offers these suggestions to your current, essential business travel policy so you can ensure that you maintain the balance between employee health and your company’s expenses. Whether these updates to your travel policy are temporary or permanent, the changes can show your employees that their safety is your primary concern.
Make These 5 Essential Business Travel Policy Changes for COVID-19
1. Confirm that Travel is Essential
Employers should first confirm that travel is both necessary to the work that employees are doing and that the work falls under the categories of infrastructure that are allowed to operate. This might include some research into the relevant requirements and restrictions in the state and country where employees intend to go to be sure the work is essential there too.
2. Make Travel Optional
Consider your employees’ needs by making travel optional. Some of you workers may be uncomfortable traveling during the pandemic, whether they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID themselves or if they live with someone who is more susceptible. Making travel optional, requiring advance managerial approval, and documenting that the employee is traveling voluntarily is one way to protect both your company and the employee.
Companies that require travel may have to defend that requirement and address pandemic-specific concerns. Will workers’ compensation cover the costs if an employee contracts COVID-19 while traveling for work? Is it disability discrimination or failure to accommodate a disability if an employee asks not to travel because of underlying health conditions? Answering these questions can help shape the role of travel in your office.
3. Prohibit Employees with Symptoms from Traveling
It is important that your travel policy set clear expectations for employees who have symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone with any known symptoms is strictly prohibited from traveling and should stay home until they are symptom-free. This could also include guidelines like time off for at least three consecutive days without fever and at least 10 days since the first symptoms occurred. Alternatively, employees who receive a negative test result post-recovery may resume their regular, in-person role in the company.
4. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If an employee does travel, a good travel policy will outline who is responsible for providing facemasks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and other necessary equipment for the employee. If the company doesn’t provide the essential PPE, then will the employee be reimbursed for providing it themselves? This needs to be clear for both the company and the employee to ensure full protection and future disagreements.
5. Consider Additional Precautions When Returning from Travel
Are employees who return from business travel welcome back into the office to interact with other colleagues immediately? Or should they work remotely for an extended period of time to ensure the office doesn’t become infected? This isolation might be an important safety precaution if the workers in the office are at higher risk because of age or underlying conditions. If working remotely isn’t an option, then proof of a negative COVID-19 test could be a good alternative.
Business travel is more complicated during the time of COVID, but updating your essential business travel policy during the pandemic can help to protect your employees and company. Reach out to BlueOrange Travel to help plan your business’s essential travel right now and into the future.