If an employee abroad on a work-related trip is unable to return to the UK due to travel disruption, is the employer responsible for paying for his or her accommodation and food?
The extent of an employer's responsibility for paying an employee's expenses if a business trip is extended due to travel disruption will depend on its expenses policy. Most policies will include a requirement for the expenses to be "reasonable". It is therefore likely that the employer would be required to pay the employee's reasonable accommodation and subsistence expenses until he or she is able to return home.
The policy should be applied fairly and reasonably and the employer should be mindful of its duty to maintain mutual trust and confidence with the employee. If it refuses to pay the employee's reasonable accommodation and subsistence expenses in these circumstances, the employee could argue that this amounts to a breach of contract.
The employer should require the employee to remain in regular contact and to provide details of his or her current circumstances, including details of any likely expenditure.
The employee should take steps to mitigate the cost of the disruption by making arrangements to return home as soon as reasonably possible.