Employer-Enforced Travel: Your Rights Abroad

can my employer force me to travel abroad

Whether an employer can force an employee to travel abroad depends on the situation. If an employee's job profile includes travelling, they can be expected to accept travel as part of their job. However, an employer cannot force an employee to travel without their consent. Employees have the right to refuse to travel for valid reasons, such as health risks or unsafe conditions. In such cases, employers should reassure employees about their safety and comfort during travel.

Characteristics Values
Can an employer force an employee to travel for work? No, an employer cannot force an employee to travel for work without their consent.
Can an employer force an employee to travel for work if it is in their contract? If an employee's contract states that they are required to travel for work, they can be forced to travel.
Can an employee refuse to travel for work? Yes, an employee can refuse to travel if they have a legitimate concern (such as a medical condition) that travelling could endanger themselves or the company.
Can an employee refuse to travel for work if it is not in their contract? Yes, an employee can refuse to travel if their job profile does not mention travel as a significant aspect of the job.
Can an employee refuse to travel for work during a pandemic? Yes, an employee can refuse to travel if their employer does not ensure workplace safety or fails in their duty of care.

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An employer cannot force an employee to travel against their will

In basic terms, an employer cannot force an employee to travel without their consent. Both federal and state employment legislation takes this factor into account. The U.S. Department of Labor says, "Employees are protected...against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for engaging in certain [employment] activities, such as traveling for work." Thus, employees have a right to refuse to travel for valid reasons. For example, an employee can refuse if they are not given sufficient rest between trips or are required to travel in unsafe conditions.

If an employee's job profile includes travel as a significant aspect, refusing to travel may lead to loss of job. However, if travel is not a significant part of the job, employers cannot force their employees to travel.

Additionally, during a pandemic, an employer can ask employees to travel if their job profile mandates work-related travel. However, the employee can refuse if the employer fails to ensure workplace safety or does not fulfil their duty of care. If there are travel restrictions in the destination country, the employer cannot ask the employee to travel. There must be a balance between the employer's duty of care and the employee's right to refuse travel.

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An employee can refuse to travel if their employer does not ensure workplace safety

An employee has the right to refuse to travel for work if their employer does not ensure workplace safety. This is true even if the employee's job profile includes travel as a significant aspect of the job.

An employer has a duty of care to their employees, which includes providing a safe and healthy work environment. This obligation extends to business travel, and employers must have a plan in place to care for their employees when they travel for business. If an employer does not ensure workplace safety, employees can refuse to travel.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, employees may have concerns about travelling, especially if they haven't received both vaccinations. In this case, employers should update their corporate travel policies to comply with workplace safety guidelines, federal law, and state restrictions on travel. This includes providing personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitiser, and gloves, and establishing procedures for if an employee contracts COVID-19 during a business trip.

Employees may also have personal reasons for not wanting to travel, such as a medical condition or a family member with a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to the virus. In these cases, employees have the right to refuse to travel, even if it is specified in their contract.

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An employee can refuse to travel if they are not given sufficient rest periods between trips

While an employer has no moral right to force an employee to travel against their will, an employee whose job profile includes travelling can be required to go on a corporate trip. This is especially true for sales and service jobs, which often require travel as a significant aspect of the job. However, employees can refuse to travel if they are not given sufficient rest between trips or if they are required to travel in unsafe conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employees are protected against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for engaging in certain employment activities, such as travelling for work. This means that employees have a right to refuse travel for valid reasons. For example, if an employee's job requires them to drive, they would need a valid driver's license and insurance to travel as needed. If an employee is afraid to fly but is required to travel by plane, they may be able to work out an alternative arrangement, such as renting a car and driving instead.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may have additional concerns about travelling for work, especially if they or their close contacts are at high risk for severe illness. While there is no definitive answer in the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regarding an employee's right to refuse travel during the pandemic, employers should assess each business trip on a case-by-case basis. Employers have a duty of care obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment, including when employees travel for business. This includes updating corporate travel policies, travel risk management policies, and FAQs to comply with workplace safety guidelines, federal law, and state restrictions on travel.

To safeguard their rights, employees can take several actions, including knowing their employer's travel guidelines and applicable labour laws, keeping track of travel-related costs, and discussing alternate arrangements if the travel poses a serious risk to their health or safety.

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An employee can refuse to travel if they are required to travel in unsafe conditions

An employee's right to refuse travel is supported by federal and state employment legislation. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor states that "employees are protected...against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for engaging in certain [employment] activities, such as traveling for work." State employment laws may also offer additional protections.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of whether an employee can refuse to travel due to health risks became especially pertinent. While there is no definitive answer in the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers should be cautious about forcing employees to travel during a pandemic. Employees could take legal action if they believe their employer is retaliating against them for refusing to travel due to health concerns.

In general, if an employee has a legitimate concern about their health and safety, they have the right to refuse to travel, even if it is specified in their contract. Employers should be open to making exceptions and discussing alternative arrangements. It is important for employees to know their rights and their employer's travel guidelines and applicable labor laws.

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An employee can refuse to travel if they have a legitimate concern, such as a medical condition

An employee has the right to refuse to travel for work if they have a legitimate concern, such as a medical condition that could endanger themselves or the company. This is the case even if it is specified in their contract that they may be required to travel for business.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were understandably nervous about travelling, especially if they were unvaccinated or had health conditions that made them more vulnerable to the virus. In this situation, employers had a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy work environment and a plan to care for their employees while they travelled. This included providing personal protective equipment, such as masks and hand sanitiser, and establishing procedures for employees who contracted COVID-19 during business trips.

Even outside of a global pandemic, employers should ensure that employees are safe and comfortable when travelling for work. This can be achieved by implementing a travel policy that includes expense reimbursement procedures and duty of care features. Employees can safeguard their rights by familiarising themselves with their employer's travel guidelines and applicable labour laws. They should also keep track of all travel-related costs and discuss any issues or concerns with their employer.

If an employee feels they are being forced to travel against their will, they should consult an employment lawyer.

Frequently asked questions

No, an employer cannot force an employee to travel abroad against their will. However, if your job profile includes travelling, it is your responsibility to go on corporate trips. If your job does not include travelling, you cannot be forced to go.

Yes, you can decline a work trip if you have a legitimate concern, such as a medical condition, that travelling could endanger yourself or the company.

If your contract includes travelling, refusing to do so may cause you to lose your job.

If you experience anxiety from travelling, it is best to be frank with your employer and explain the situation. It is also recommended to seek treatment for your anxiety before bringing it up with your employer.

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