Although travel restrictions are slowly being lifted in the wake of global shutdowns to curb the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, business travel should still be approached with care. In South Africa, business travellers are allowed to move around somewhat freely, and this places the onus on employers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees when they travel for work.
At TravelManor, we’ve always encouraged our clients to have a firm business travel policy in place - it’s the simplest and most effective way to keep all parties on the same page with regard to what’s expected of them when corporate travel is on the cards. Naturally, the impact of the COVID-19 virus cannot be ignored - it has changed the way we approach everything from shopping to socialising, and travel is most certainly not exempt.
Here are five vital components that should be included in your business travel policies going forward in order to keep employees safe as they promote your company’s interests further afield:
Every government has its own definitions of 'essential travel' as it pertains to movement during the pandemic. In South Africa, lockdown measures have been broken down into various levels. It's imperative that your HR team keep tabs on the shifting landscape as it pertains to business travel and communicates this to your team.
Additionally, you need to define what essential travel means for your company internally - i.e. under which circumstances would employees definitely need to travel?
Employees should not be forced to travel if they feel uncomfortable to do so for any reason. Those who choose to do so will also have to document in writing that they are doing so voluntarily in order to safeguard your business from liability down the line.
Similarly, employees will also need to sign a document stating that they are not experiencing any of the known symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, chills, loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing, chest pain, etc.) before they embark on their journey.
Transport providers should be chosen with care to limit the likelihood of exposure to the virus. I.e. airlines, transfer companies and taxi operators need to be vetted before they are employed in this capacity.
Employees should be equipped with quality personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks/visors and alcohol-based hand sanitiser when they travel for work.
These are a few of the most important aspects your company’s COVID-19 business policy needs to address straight off the bat. If you would like some more information on drawing up a workable policy for your company or would prefer to partner with a team that will help you to keep track of all the regulations, feel free to contact a member of the TravelManor team. In the meantime, keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for more expert insight into adjusting to the new normal when it comes to South African business travel.