May 13, 2020

Planning For The Rebound: Step 13 – Is Work Travel A Thing Of The Past?

There are several industries in which employee travel (both near and far) is an essential aspect of the job. Many job descriptions describe travel as a critical function, and applicants are asked to confirm that extensive travel will not interfere with their personal lives.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the travel industry has been decimated: some reports show travel down 80-90% in the last few months. Meeting by video conference has become the new norm, replacing cross-country and international meetings. We are left to wonder: Is this a permanent change? Will employers substitute relatively inexpensive Zoom meetings for costly airfare and hotel reservations? Will employees attend conferences less frequently? Is work travel a thing of the past?

The answer: No one knows. But certainly, no one expects travel to pick up overnight, even as federal, state, and local governments slowly begin to ease shelter-in-place restrictions.

Still, if you are in an industry where travel was common, and is expected to pick up even somewhat, here are some basic travel guidelines to keep all your employees safe:

Avoid “hot spots”: Employers should limit, or try to eliminate, business travel to any areas where there is an increased risk of exposure. The CDC has issued Guidelines to determine if travel is essential.

No travel for employees with symptoms: If an employee is showing any symptoms of COVID-19, such as elevated temperatures or respiratory illness, travel should be prohibited outright.

Report all travel: You should require employees to report any travel to you, whether business or personal, and you should keep a record of such travel. Consider asking such employees to work from home.

Require self-quarantine for employees who travel: People are reasonably concerned that air travel in particular is unsafe, and that airplanes themselves could be “hot spots” for COVID-19. To that end, you may want to consider asking employees who have traveled, especially if to a “hot spot,” to self-quarantine until 14 days have passed.

The reality is that there are no hard and fast rules about traveling for work, and sometimes, work-related travel is critically necessary. In making the right decisions about employee travel, employers should be guided by common sense, by the obligations of work, and by the alternatives that technology offers.


Questions about COVID-19 and the workplace? Contact the Hirschfeld Kraemer lawyer who normally provides your legal advice, or you can reach out to Dan Handman in Hirschfeld Kraemer’s Los Angeles office,, (310) 255-1820.

Did you miss previous posts in our Planning For The Rebound series? Click on the links below:

Step 1 – Requirements For Returning To The Workplace

Step 2 – Do I Have To Bring Back Furloughed or Laid-Off Employees?

Step 3 – Do Employers Need to Bring Back Under-Performers?

Step 4 – Ready To Go Back To Work? Not So Fast …

Step 5 – Passing the Test: COVID-19 Screening in the Workplace

Step 6 – Deciding Which Employees Can Return To The Workplace

Step 7 – Workplace Safety: Posters Are Not Enough

Step 8 – Safety Tips For Allowing Vendors and Visitors Into Your Workplace

Step 9 – Meal and Break Room Safety

Step 10 – Hygiene Tips For A Safe, Clean Workplace

Step 11 – A Workable Plan For Social Distancing

Step 12 – Dealing With Requests To Work Remotely: Separating Facts From Fear

For additional employer-focused information about COVID-19:
Click here to see the Hirschfeld Kraemer EMPLOYER’S GUIDE TO CORONAVIRUS