Adding an extra few leisure days at the end of a business trip is something that many people do nowadays. After all, the stresses that often come with work and the fast-paced lives many people lead make the occasional break totally justified.
However, a recent poll shows that business travellers who do indeed bolt-on additional leisure days to their trips could be doing so without the protection of their firm’s travel policy and are, therefore, exposing themselves to risks that are unbeknown to them.
In fact, according to the research in the UK from marketing services provider Collinson Group, almost three-quarters (72%) of business travellers extend their trips with a few leisure days. But while 89% of companies allow this so-called “bleisure” travel, a worryingly large number (31%) do not have corporate policies in place to cover the additional days.
Collinson Group says that the average corporate traveller extends their business trips by five days over the course of a year.
The firm also said that employers may be failing in their duty of care obligations when it comes to ensuring that employees on business trips are fully covered by corporate policies and that staff are inevitably spending extra time abroad under the misconception that they are protected.
Perhaps more concerning is the fact that 15% of HR professionals polled said their companies did not have any process in place to monitor the whereabouts and welfare of their employees while abroad.
Of the companies that do monitor, manual call-in was the most common method used by employees to advise their employers about their welfare used by 38% of organisations. Outsourcing to a travel management company (28%) or an assistance travel tracking company (26%) were the next most popular, while just over a fifth (21%) said they use GPS.
Bleisure a ‘Somewhat Grey Area’
Randall Gordon-Duff, head of product, corporate travel at 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.”
It’s not surprising then that Collinson Group is urging organisations to address the situation and ensure that the matter of additional leisure days is placed on the corporate radar. This will require employers to speak with their insurance providers and find out exactly what is and what isn’t covered by their corporate insurance policies.
By educating employees about the possible risks associated with bleisure travel and introducing key guidance around them, companies can make their travel policies more explicit going forward. This could include limiting the number of leisure days that can be added onto a business trip; specifying that employees will only be covered for travel that does not stray too far away from their original itineraries; and advising employees that they need to adhere to additional elements of corporate travel policies, such as risk assessments, tracking and call-ins, when visiting places that are perceived to be higher risk destinations.
Travel insurance can be somewhat of a minefield and misconceptions as to what is covered is a big problem for travellers and product providers. Communication is key. If employers want their employees to have flexibility around business travel, look for policies which may cover business and leisure elements of the same trip.
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