Anyone who travels for business reasons is on a business trip - whether in Germany or abroad. As soon as the work is performed away from the usual place of work, it is referred to as a business trip. Whether the business trip counts as working time and is remunerated separately always depends on the national regulations.
Business travel working time: Active vs. passive
For business travel, we generally distinguish between active and passive working time.
Active working time
As the name suggests, during active travel time the traveler performs an active work activity while on the road – for example, a driving activity or activities on the laptop.
Passive working time
The opposite is true for passive travel time. The traveler does not perform any work while traveling. This is particularly the case when traveling by public transport or as a passenger in a car.
Remuneration for business trips
All costs incurred on business trips are generally to be borne by the employer. And this is how business trips can be settled:
- Travel expenses (e.g. air or rail tickets)
- Overnight expenses
- Travel expenses and mileage allowance (EUR 0.30 per kilometer driven)
- Meal allowance (since 2020, 14 euros per day)
- Incidental travel expenses:
- All costs that cannot be allocated to travel, accommodation and meal costs (e.g. transportation, baggage insurance, costs for long-distance calls and correspondence with the employer, tolls, ferry fees, parking costs)
Daily business travel allowance: What is it actually and who gets it?
Daily allowance is available to any traveler who stays away from home for more than eight hours due to work-related necessity. If he is absent between eight and 14 hours, he is entitled to a so-called small lump sum of 14 euros.
If he is away from his place of residence for more than 24 hours, he can claim the large flat rate. In Germany, this amounts to 28 euros.
The small flat rate is applied to both the day of arrival and the day of departure. The traveler receives it net and has it at his free disposal. If the employer does not reimburse him directly for the expenses incurred during the business trip, he can claim them back on his next tax return.
Remuneration for business trips at home and abroad
If an employee travels from home to abroad and back again on the same day, he is entitled to the lump sum of the foreign destination country. The employer must reimburse him the amount free of wage tax.
The financial basis for this is the lump sum of the country that the employee reached before 24:00. If, for example, he is in Brussels currently, the Belgian regulations apply.
Business trip Corona: What should be considered?
Caution is called for during the pandemic, especially when traveling abroad on business. What is the infection situation in the destination country and what Corona restrictions apply locally? For example, is there a strict testing and quarantine requirement? Or is the country even currently in lockdown?
More reason to take a look at the travel warnings issued by the German Foreign Office before departure. If they advise against foreign travel to certain countries, the ordered work assignment should be reconsidered.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Duration of business trip: How long can a business trip last?
During a business trip, working hours should be limited to a regular eight hours. In exceptional cases, up to ten hours are also possible – but only with sufficient rest and recovery phases. The rule of thumb: After work, the traveler must have at least eleven hours to regenerate.
How many business trips are reasonable?
In principle, there are no restrictions on the frequency of business trips. As long as the labor law, internal company regulations and contractual agreements are observed, any number of business trips can be ordered.
How much advance notice is required for business trips?
There is no general rule on “advance warning time” for business trips. What is stated in the employment contract applies. In emergencies, therefore, short-term assignments are conceivable. However, these should not be the rule. To ensure that the employee can prepare for the trip in good time, it is advisable to give several days or, at best, weeks’ notice.
Does travel time in the car count as working time?
If the employer requires the employee to travel by car, the travel time counts as working time – at least for the driver. The reason: since he has to concentrate on the traffic the whole time, he has no opportunity to rest on the way.
Does travel time on the train count as working time?
If the train trip takes place during regular operating hours, it can be counted as working time – even if the employee is not engaged in any professional activity. However, there are exceptions: If the employee has a free choice of means of transportation and chooses to take the train, the trip is not automatically recognized as working time.
Theoretically, it falls under the category of rest time. After all, the employee had the opportunity to rest on the way. Incidentally, this is also the case if the employer orders public transport for the business trip, but the employee voluntarily chooses to travel by train.