Corporate travel is an important part of the work of most companies. Whether employees attend one major trade event every year or they're on the road daily, their health and safety is the most important concern.
Companies have the same duty of care to their travelling employees as they do to their on-site workers. Producing a company-wide travel policy is one way to ensure the right steps are taken before, during and after each trip to make sure you're compliant, and a risk assessment must be conducted beforehand to foresee any hazards.
What is a Travel Safety Policy and What Should it Include?
Travel policies set out the standards that all business travel is expected to meet. They can include rules on expenses (such as how much hotels and transport should cost, and the appropriate ways of paying for travel expenses), preferred hotels and car rental vendors. It must provide any details of your travel management company (TCM) if you have one, and make sure people are aware travel needs to be booked through them.
In terms of safety, there are many areas that need to be considered in a thorough travel policy:
Risk Assessment – Each trip requires a risk assessment tailored to the destination and individuals on the journey. This is a very important requirement and needs to be emphasised in a travel safety policy.
Itinerary and Emergency Protocol – Requiring employees to submit a detailed itinerary for their trip allows the company or their TCM to track them easily. This ensures they're safe and that their journey is going to plan. They should have regular check-ins when possible so their safety can be established. How often and what form these take will be individual to each company and each trip. It's important to check the business travellers have all necessary visas and vaccinations they will need for their trip in advance.
Letting travelling employees know what they should do in an emergency is important. It could be vital in a natural disaster or terrorist attack. If travellers fall victim to a more common problem like theft or a sudden illness, they will be better equipped to handle it if the travel policy for these matters has been communicated to them in advance.
Hotel and Transportation Standards – Perhaps the most dangerous part of many business trips is when the employees are getting from A to B. Their hotel can also be a problem area, where many health issues can arise.
Many travel policies put a limit on the price of the hotel. This should be carefully balanced with the need to secure safe, reliable accommodation in every location. If the company or their TCM have a price arrangement with a certain chain of hotels whose quality can be relied upon, this should be communicated to staff.
Training – Making sure all employees are appropriately trained in travel safety can give everyone peace of mind. It shouldn't be assumed that all employees have extensive travelling experience outside of work, but even seasoned travellers can benefit from training geared towards business travellers.
Insurance – Employees should be made aware of what form of insurance the company has for them, what it covers and how to access details of it.
As with all business policies, it's best if they're created collaboratively. People are more likely to follow policies they've helped to create, and it can help to examine the rationale behind each decision before including it in the final policy. Surveys have shown that only 38% of business travellers think their company travel policy is satisfactory, so getting the input of those the policy will affect most is vitally important.
Benefits of Travel Safety Compliance
An estimated 6.8 million overseas business trips took place from the UK in 2017, with the number of domestic ones taking the overall tally much higher.
Like any company policy, a travel policy is only effective if it's followed. It may seem time-consuming for busy employees to follow specific rules or book things through the correct channels, but if the reasons for these rules – which are primarily employee safety and the desire for the trip to run as smoothly as possible – are clearly communicated from the start, workers are more likely to be on board with them. This is especially true if the employees have some say in what goes into the policy. Working with those it directly affects guarantees a more effective document. If it is reviewed regularly, perhaps annually, this allows it to be altered depending on changing circumstances and gives newer employees a chance to have an input.
Following a travel safety policy allows the company to meet its duty of care and stay on the right side of any relevant health and safety legislation.