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SHOULD I CANCEL EMPLOYEE WORK TRAVEL?

Concerns regarding COVID-19

What international travel bans are currently in effect?

The United States currently bans incoming travel by foreigners recently in China or Europe. U.S. citizens are also restricted from travel abroad by a growing list of countries instituting a global travel ban against foreigners. Although these lists may grow, the U.S.-Mexican border is not currently seeing COVID-19 related restrictions.

However, international travel may be still not be advisable, even if technically possible. This advisory map is a good starting place, but be sure to double check the official U.S. country-specific pages as well before making decisions.

Am I legally obligated to cancel domestic work travel?

The short answer is no, not yet. However, bans against gathering, closing schools, limits on business activity, and curfews may make work travel highly impractical, if not impossible. These restrictions are not generally made by the federal government, but states, municipalities, and other local governments. This adds complexity to predicting and planning for restrictions related to upcoming work travel.

For instance, Austin disallowed gatherings of more than 125 people and Maryland shut down restaurants and bars. More restrictions are likely to follow.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all gatherings of more than fifty people should be cancelled and issued this unusual advisory on domestic travel.

If I cannot perform contractual obligations due to cancelled work travel, am I liable for breach of contract?

Short answer is yes, however there may an affirmative defense available.

What if my employee refuses to travel?

In Texas, you may usually discipline or terminate an employee at will. There is no exception for termination due to an employee’s refusing to travel due to COVID-19.

I still have more questions.

Take a look at our previous blog post where we discuss the legal ramifications for employer and employee in many other frequently asked questions.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Resources for business and Employers

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

Texas Department of State Health Services: What to do if you’re sick, testing information, symptoms, and prevention tips

https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

Official Texas County COVID-19 Case Counter

https://www.dshs.texas.gov/news/updates.shtm#coronavirus