Does an employer need a travel policy?

A travel policy is a good idea for any employer whose employees are expected to do more than simply travel to and from work.  Such a policy can be just as important to a small employer who sends a few employees on a company retreat once a year, as it is to a larger employer who sends employees around the country or to foreign countries on a regular basis.

Travel policies should stand side by side with any other traditional employment policy, and should serve the same important purpose: letting the employee know what to expect, and what is expected.  They can and should be used by a broad variety of employers.

For example:

-Government contractors certainly need clear and concise travel policies.  A government contractor cannot simply refer to travel regulations covering federal employees, as most of these regulations do not apply to government contractors and their employees.  Furthermore, a government contractor must ensure that its travel policy strictly complies with the relevant terms of its contract.

-Corporations and small business that require significant employee travel can benefit greatly from a detailed travel policy.  Just a sample of the issues to consider:

  • Who makes the arrangements for travel?  Perhaps the Employer has discount arrangements with certain vendors and wants to make sure they are used.
  • Is there a per diem or reimbursement for meals?
  • What about parking tickets, or other minor violations?  Will the Employer be responsible for reimbursement?
  • What about loss of personal/company property?
  • What about procedures in case of emergency, or just for filling out expense reports?
  • Can the employee use his own credit cards, or redeem credit rewards points, or do those belong to the company?
  • Are there security procedures the employee should follow to protect company property?

Even a small employer with very modest travel requirements can benefit from a clear travel policy.  An employee going to a once-in-a-lifetime conference in Las Vegas this year needs to know that the employer will not be paying for items from the mini-bar, or paying to get him home after he lost all his money at blackjack.

For any employer requiring travel, the value of a good travel policy is obvious.  It can cut costs for the employer and hopefully ease some of the administrative headaches and uncertainties employees often experience when required to travel for work.  The policy should be tailored to the employer’s specific needs and can be quite extensive, but an experienced attorney should be able to draw on experience to create an effective travel policy that will cost considerably less that the consequences of not having one.



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