A travel policy is a fundamental requirement for any organisation that requires its’ employees to undertake business travel as part of their role. A travel policy should exist, irrespective of whether employees are required to travel on an international or national basis. The arrival of the Corporate Homicide and Corporate Manslaughter Act of 2007 stated that organisations must demonstrate a “relevant duty of care” to their employees. This act triggered a response across UK businesses and today the vast majority has a travel policy and documented procedures that are designed to reduce the risks to their travelers.
However, experience shows us that travel policies vary enormously, some are very comprehensive and others have vulnerabilities that could be exploited. At Erudite Crisis Associates we believe that the travel policy should answer a number of questions. Some of these questions relate to safety and others to the practicalities of undertaking travel in a cost effective and efficient manner.
The following sections are examples of common chapters in a Travel Policy:
The policy should specify the various groups and individuals who are affected by the policy. Generally this is everyone in the organisation and in some cases consultants and contractors who are attached to the organisation and required to travel as part of their contract.
Roles and Responsibilities
Across the organisation everyone must understand what is anticipated of them and how they fulfil their responsibilities ether as the traveller, travel manager or line manager of an individual(s) who is/are required to travel on company business. This section should also include instructions for company risk managers, procurement and the finance department.
Safety and Cost Control
Each organisation will have its own level of risk appetite and based upon this measurement the company should set out the mechanisms for assessing and subsequently authorising or refusing travel. While safety is the primary concern for travellers it is also logical that an organisation states how it intends to manage the cost of travel in the policy as failure to do this could lead to the exploitation of poor controls.
Authority to Travel
It is essential to provide clear instruction on the process for authorising travel, invariably as soon as something goes wrong on a trip the first question is often who authorised it. The authorisation process should be interpreted as a process that protects both the traveller and the organisation
Part of the travel process must include some form of risk assessment procedure, this is particularly important for businesses who send travellers to emerging markets and countries that are deemed to have a high risk. This process should identify risks and thereby create the opportunity to initiate measures to reduce them to acceptable levels based upon the organisations risk appetite. If this risk assessment process is promoted in the correct way it will be viewed positively.
Most large and mid sized businesses use a Travel Management Company (TMC) as the preferred way of booking and monitoring travel. A good TMC will be able to offer a host of services that will help to support the traveller while they are away on business and reduce the strain on internal resources. The travel policy should make reference to this organisation and to those who are allowed to make contact with them. In all likelihood a traveller will only contact the TMC if they need assistance to change a booking outside of normal working hours.
If travel is not booked through a TMC then the policy should make it clear how travel is booked and who is authorised to do this. It should also stipulate how the bookings are recorded and what a traveller should do if they need to make a change to their booking outside of normal working hours.
Responding To An Emergency
Arguably, it appears that hardly a month goes by when we are not reading or hearing about a terrorist incident, a natural disaster or a man made catastrophe that has occurred in some part of the world. With this in mind it is essential that provisions be made within the travel policy to outline the mechanisms that are in place to support a traveller in difficulty. Erudite Crisis Associates are currently offering crisis training to manage this type of incident.
Traveller training should not only focus on those who undertake travel but it should also include those who are required to book travel. While the basics are often covered by online training programs experience shows us that at least once a year it pays to undertake an interactive training session. This provides a platform for people to share experiences and learn from others who have managed travel related incidents.
If you require support on writing a travel policy or arranging a bespoke traveller training session then please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org