Duty of care lacking on bleisure breaks: report
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Almost three quarters (72%) of business travellers bolt-on additional leisure days to their trips, but new research reveals that many may be doing so without the protection of their firm.
The study commissioned by Collinson Group highlights that despite 89% of companies allowing this so called ‘bleisure’ travel, almost a third (31%) do not extend the protection offered by their corporate travel risk policy, to cover these additional days.
With the average corporate traveller saying they extend their business trips by five days overall a year, the findings raise concerns that employers may not be fulfilling their Duty of Care obligations to employees. It also means staffers could be spending added time abroad under the misguided belief that they are protected.
Collinson Group is urging employers to ensure the matter of leisure stays is addressed within the organisation’s corporate travel policy and to understand from their insurer or broker what exactly is, or is not backed by the terms and conditions of their company insurance policy.
When it comes to ways of keeping in touch with their business travellers, manual call-in was the most common method used by 38% of companies, followed by outsourcing via a travel management company (28%) or an assistance or travel tracking company (26%). Just over a fifth (21%) use GPS tracking while one in 20 (5%) didn’t know.
However a further 15% of HR professionals surveyed said their firm had no process in place to monitor their employee whereabouts or wellbeing whilst abroad. This can expose businesses from a Duty of Care perspective if an employee is subsequently involved in an incident – even if they are not working – as the reason for the outbound trip was business related.
Randall Gordon-Duff, head of Product, Corporate Travel, Collinson Group, said: “The legalities around the question of employer accountability for those who bolt leisure days on to a business trip are a somewhat grey area. However, if a company’s travel policy allows leisure days to be tagged onto a business trip, there is a moral imperative to ensure that employees are aware of any stipulations of cover where the company offers this, or of the need to arrange their own cover if they do not.
“Where corporate policies do accommodate leisure stays the quid-pro-quo should be that employees uphold key aspects of the corporate travel policy such as pre-travel risk assessments or traveller tracking – particularly when in destinations deemed higher risk – as this can impact the company’s own risk or ability to fulfil their duty of care.
“We advise those responsible for international business travel to talk to their insurer or broker about what is and is not covered in terms of leisure days, to modify their policies accordingly and ensure this is communicated to staff.”
According to Collinson Group, companies should look to take basic steps or introduce key guidance to make their travel policies more explicit with regards to bleisure days. This could include:
― Limiting the number of days that can be extended/ taken for leisure purposes (to contain the risk to the individual and/ or the company);
― Stipulating that employees will only be covered for travel that does not represent a significant departure from their original travel itinerary (i.e. travel must be within the same region and not to destinations that are deemed as ‘high risk’);
― Stipulating that, certainly in higher risk destinations, employees must be prepared to adhere to required aspects of the corporate travel policy (e.g., risk assessment, tracking, call ins); and
― If not prepared to observe terms of the corporate policy then provide proof that they have arranged their own cover.
Such steps will help companies better identify and manage risk, while providing clearer parameters regarding the limitations of the corporate travel
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