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HR policy – managing employees travelling for business

With more employees travelling long distances away from their normal place of work, you need to ensure you are managing your Employer obligations with regards to these employees working time, paid travel time and health and safety? Below are the main points you need to consider for these employees.

1. What is classed at working time?

Usually travel from an employee’s home to their normal place of work and back again is not classified as working time, since  the worker is not ‘carrying out duties’ or ‘at their employers disposal’ during this journey. 

Business Travel and HR

However, if the employee is travelling to/from home on business i.e. to another location, then the company may decide that this is working time for which the employee can be paid.  Similarly, business travel during normal working hours usually counts as working time. 

If the company has employees who travel frequently then these employees should be asked to keep a record of their working time so the company can ensure that they are not breaching the working time regulations, particularly if the employees have not opted out of the 48-hour working week.

2. Should travel time be paid?

It is more usual for travel time to be paid to hourly paid employees, or for them to be given time off in lieu, if they are travelling on business outside of their normal working hours.  This time can be paid at the employee’s normal hourly rate or at a different rate if that is felt applicable, but obviously the rate needs to be above the National Minimum Wage.  It is less common to pay salaried staff if they are travelling on business outside of their normal working hours but the company may decide to do this if appropriate or to give time off in lieu.

3. Travel expenses

The expenses which can be claimed should be clearly set out in the Companys expenses policies and all employees should be made aware of this policy before they travel. Within the policy the company may consider defining the rules on the mode of transport i.e. using the most economic means or only travelling standard class perhaps, and including upper limits for the reimbursement of meals, hotels, etc.  The policy should also provide details on anti-bribery legislation and rules on gifts and hospitality.  Obviously, the rules the company sets need to take in to account the health and welfare of the employee, particularly if they are travelling long distances and / or are expected to work soon after arrival.

4. Health and safety

Frequent travel can have a negative effect on employee’s health and lead to increased sickness levels and lower productivity.  Companies should therefore be ensuring that employees, who do a lot of miles on company business, are taking adequate rest breaks and that they have their eyes tested regularly.  You should also consider carrying out regular risk assessments for frequent travelers or those travelling to high risk destinations or working alone in order to promote good health and safety awareness.

5. Use of the employees own vehicle

If an employee uses their own car for a business trip then the company has a responsibility to ensure the vehicle has a valid MOT, appropriate business insurance cover, and that the employee has a valid driving licence. If the company fails to carry out these checks they could be liable in the event of an accident, for failing to ensure the employees’ health and safety.  Doing this once is not enough, you need to put a system in to place for regularly checking these employees insurance policies, driving licenses, etc.

6. Other driving offences

You should also make employees aware about the rules on using mobile phones while driving, drink-driving and with more recent legislation about drug-driving laws. 

7. Confidential information

It is a good idea to provide employees with some guidelines on the protection of confidential information when they are travelling, particularly on public transport. For example, requiring that bags, laptops, memory sticks, etc. containing company, client or any other confidential information, must not be left unattended during a journey or in a car overnight and that all electronic data is appropriately password protected or encrypted.  Depending on the data they are carrying, mis-use of this data could be a dismissible offence under the Company’s disciplinary procedure.

8. Travel policies and contracts of employment

All of the above information should be set out in a clear policy, which should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is up to date and that it reflects reality within your business. Employees should also be aware of the policy and any changes that are made.

Contracts of employment should also be reviewed in line with the policy to ensure they are consistent and /or any individual arrangement that has been made with regards to travel is fully explained in the individuals contract of employment.

Not having the correct policies and procedures in place could prove costly both financially and in the time taken to deal with problems and disputes that may occur. If you would like some assistance to compile a travel policy or to review your existing one then get in touch my emailing us here.

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We can help you hire and retain the best employees, manage your employees more successfully, and improve employee motivation. Whatever your HR outsourcing needs, In2HR can assist any company within the Thames Valley areas, including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxon and Surrey. So why not contact us today.

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