Business travel: rights and duties
Today, various companies require the implementation of business travel in certain teams. Travelers, often being salespeople, perform professional missions outside the office on a regular basis and are therefore subject to rights and duties.
Even if it is not an office assignment, the labor code does apply to business travel. Whether it is about expenses, internal policies or employee protection, companies and employees have to respect a certain number of rules.
In order to fully understand your rights with regard to business travel, it is essential to understand the purpose and objectives of business travel.
A business trip is an assignment outside the office, nationally or internationally, for a limited period of time (which differentiates business travel from expatriation).
This out-of-office mission may be requested in the context of a client meeting, a trade show or an event that is beneficial to the company. These business trips are a real source of profit for companies and must be profitable.
Travelling for business means many expenses, whether for accommodation, transportation or meals. These travel expenses can be limited by the company, which then sets a framework of expenses for the employee before his departure. Of course, if expense policies are put in place, they apply to all company travelers without exception. However, the employee can supplement this budget if he or she feels it is necessary. For example, the company may decide to reimburse 2nd class train tickets only, but the employee may travel 1st class if he/she wishes, provided he/she pays the difference.
For reimbursement, there are two types:
- The reimbursement of expense reports, that is to say that the employee must provide proof of payment. The employee will have to advance the money for each trip and will be reimbursed only when he/she returns to the company.
- The reimbursement of fixed-price expense reports, based on a URSSAF scale and requiring the employer to compensate the employee each month with the same predefined amount.
Each change in travel expense policies must be communicated to employees in a timely manner in order to avoid any surprises when returning from a business trip. The employee, on the other hand, must keep informed and respect the policies in terms of expense reports for each of his external missions.
Application of internal company policies
Company policies are paper-based documents, often digitized, that outline the established rules that employees must follow, whether in the office or on the road.
Some policies are aimed solely at business travel and may highlight different points:
- Maximum expenses to be incurred when traveling outside the company
- Travel approval and acceptance processes
- Management of expense reports
- The choice of hotels and transportation (some companies have partnerships with certain brands or groups and must go through them).
All these rules form a legal framework for the company and for the employee and each of them must be respected before, during and after the trip.
The working time of an employee is defined by the labor code, and this time remains the same, whether he is in the office or on the other side of the world for a mission. It is therefore important for the traveler to count his hours, because overtime remains even during a business trip.
Moreover, the time spent between home and the usual place of work is not included in the effective working time, but a journey between home and the place of the external mission is fully included in the weekly hours counted. In line with this legal framework, an employee on a business trip is not required to answer the phone or an e-mail from a colleague or a manager.
They must meet the company's expectations, but they must not allow themselves to be led outside the legal framework.
Legal framework around hiring
Business travel can be both a plus and a handicap when hiring an employee.
Even if it is not mandatory to mention it in the employment contract, it is advisable for the company to specify it at the time of the hiring interview if it is already a fact carried out by other employees. However, the future traveler may not use his or her employment contract as justification for refusing a business trip. He/she may, however, ask to be informed of the maximum scope of his/her future business trips and will in any case be reimbursed by his/her company in case of an expense claim (even if the business trip is not part of the employment contract).
Protection of employees
As an employee, you are provided with numerous insurances and security measures that apply during working hours. These same devices must be put in place during business trips to ensure the constant safety of each employee.
The company must offer appropriate insurance, but above all maintain a constant link with each traveler. This almost daily communication is usually done with the help of the Travel Manager (find the job description in this article) or, in the case of larger companies, with the help of an outsourced team ready to respond to any request at any time of the day.
The Travel Manager's job is to continuously learn about potential hazards, be they climatic, political or social, in order to warn the traveler and find the appropriate solutions in a relatively short time.
The Covid-19 crisis has greatly complicated these protection issues in companies, which is why this part is now a priority to be taken into account to maintain the balance of a company's travel.
Although the company is officially the manager of its employees' business travel, management can vary.
It is not mandatory for a company to manage its travel in one way or another.
It can therefore choose to let employees take care of each of their trips themselves by obtaining information and booking both transportation and accommodation. They will then have to refer to the person in charge of the validation, which is often the Office Manager or an Executive Assistant.
It can also choose to hire one or more Travel Managers in charge of business travel, who represent a real link between management and travelers.
Finally, it can choose to opt for a digitalized travel management tool to save time and money. Making this choice means adopting a tool that centralizes information and invoices, that makes travelers autonomous (with reservations in just a few clicks) and that automatically implements travel policies in terms of budget and CSR commitment (find the 4 steps to reach zero carbon footprint in this article).
At Fairjungle, we offer you this travel management tool to make your daily work easier. Thanks to our smart and totally redesigned API, we break away from the traditional agency scheme to offer you an economical, responsible and bold management of all your business trips.
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