(English translation provided for informational purposes. If the English and German versions allow different interpretations, the German version should be followed).
Managers as well as those travelling on business themselves have specific responsibilities when considering business trips. Each individual case should be considered to see how urgent the need for a planned business trip is and if there are online alternatives. Even a business trip that has already been approved should therefore be checked in the light of the current infection situation before the trip begins and, if necessary, the approval should be withdrawn.
Managers and business travellers can obtain information about the current coronavirus infection rate, as well as assessments of the risk at any time via the RKI website and the website of the Auswärtigen Amt (Federal Foreign Office).
Please also refer to the regulations of the COVID-19 3-level system (STUFENPLAN).
Travel for work – within Germany
Currently, business trips within Germany are possible again (as per levels 1 and 2 of the CoVID-19 3-level system). Please consider the restrictions for business trips according to level 2. It is the responsibility of the managers and the employees themselves to check the necessity of a business trip and to only carry out business trips that are absolutely necessary and/or cannot be postponed.
If the University is in level 3 of the COVID-19 3-level system, no business trips – regardless of whether in Germany or abroad – should be carried out. Should a business trip be urgently necessary in individual and exceptional cases (in particular for maintenance and care of animals and/or research work that cannot be postponed, such as seasonal fieldwork), this is only possible with exceptional approval. The faculties or the heads of the institutions are responsible for granting exceptional permission for business trips within Germany. The faculties are responsible for organising the decision-making process themselves; delegation to the heads of institutes/departments is possible.
Travel for work – abroad
All business travel abroad remains subject to approval.
If the University is at level 1 or 2 of the COVID-19 colour-coded system, the dean of the respective faculty or the head of a central institution can issue approval for international business trips from 30 August 2021. Delegation to the faculty advisor or managing director is possible.
Business trips abroad are only permitted subject to the following restrictions and requirements:
Business trips should be avoided as far as possible in view of the continuing pandemic situation and in order to protect staff from risks to their health. Where possible, an online alternative to the business trip should be found.
Those trips that are absolutely necessary can be approved only if it can be clearly demonstrated that there is no other option in this particular case. In view of the risk of possible infection during a business trip, the case must be carefully examined and, where necessary, justified. When considering whether a trip is absolutely necessary, supervisors must be completely satisfied that the case meets the strictest criteria for being both compelling and unavoidable. A risk assessment must be attached to the business trip case. This risk assessment should take into account the recommendations of the Foreign Office and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), and should include the vaccination status of the official traveller as well as the possible requirement for quarantine and the associated costs to the faculty/institution.
If the University is at level 3, travel abroad for business is not possible. Special exceptions would still be considered by the Krisenstab via the Central Travel Cost Center on a case-by-case basis and as exceptions to the ban on travel for work.
The required approval to undertake business travel in exceptional circumstances must be sent in good time, at least two weeks before the start of the trip, by sending the form (available from the Mitarbeiterportal InfoCenter/Personalabteilung/Reisekosten) in an email via the Central Travel Cost Centre (email@example.com) or via the Lucom Platform (send to the Reisekostenstelle Zentral). The application for an exemption to carry out business trips abroad, as per the University’s colour-coded system, requires the approval of the dean’s office or the management of the institution and this approval must be attached to the application.
When returning from a trip, it is strongly recommended to get a coronavirus test before coming on Campus.
As a rule, business trips in areas of variants of concern (according to the RKI), are prohibited.
Even after an exemption has been granted, please note that it can be withdrawn at any time if the destination is reclassified as an area of variant of concern after the date of approval or or if changes to the entry and quarantine regulations contradict the purpose of the business trip or make the trip uneconomical. Travel expenses already incurred at this point in time, as well as cancellation costs, will be reimbursed.
Travel and safety guidelines, and special entry and return requirements
Since some countries have imposed entry bans or particular controls on certain groups of people or flights from certain regions, all business travellers must obtain information from the Germany-based embassy or consulate for their destination (see the German Federal Foreign Office) before starting their journey. All travel and security instructions must be observed. Changes to the entry and quarantine regulations are sometimes made without any prior notice and with immediate effect. It is therefore the duty of business travellers to continuously monitor the situation and obtain information (State of Lower Saxony).
Please also note the University information on “Quarantine, infection, symptoms of illness” and “Quarantine on return from travelling”.
Hygiene and distancing measures
We appeal to all staff to observe the hygiene and distancing rules to minimise the risk of infection and for their own health and safety on business trips in addition, of course, to other times. For this reason, arrival and departure and activities on site must always be carried out in accordance with up-to-date appropriate hygiene and distancing regulations and occupational health and safety standards. When using the railway, the appropriate regulations of Deutsche Bahn must also be observed.
Means of transport
In principle, the use of all usual means of transport is permitted again and reimbursable within the scope of Lower Saxony’s team regulations (NRKVO). Reimbursement for use of a private vehicle is based on the provisions of Lower Saxony’s travel cost regulations (NRKVO). Reimbursement for the use of a private vehicle is based on the provisions of § 5 NRKVO.
The maximum number of people in company vehicles or in hired vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic is 50% of the permitted number of seats. In the case of odd numbers, the number may be rounded up to the next figure. If the minimum distance cannot be maintained, face masks (Mund-Nasen-Bedeckung or MNB) must be worn. Bearing in mind the University’s duty of care, the obligation to wear a face mask also applies to the driver of any official vehicle provided by the University. For longer journeys, even if the minimum distance is maintained, a break must be taken after 60 minutes and the car must be ventilated. Avoid loud conversations or singing (aerosol-generating behaviour) while driving. The operating instructions during the coronavirus pandemic issued by the Safety/Environment Section for service vehicles must be observed.
Taking students along on business trips under the conditions of the allowable cases (as above) is allowed if the regulations on distancing can be maintained and the students’ presence is absolutely necessary. The same applies to sending students on trips in accordance with the travel cost guidelines for invited and students posted elsewhere.
Travel costs for business trips that cannot take place
Where expenses are incurred as a result of the cancellation of a business trip, a travel allowance shall be reimbursed at the rate of the costs incurred in making the necessary travel arrangements. However, please be aware that every opportunity should be taken immediately to keep the costs low and to cancel obligations already entered into as far as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact the Central Travel Cost Centre or the Team Leader Yvonne Ermisch, on extension 24795 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#6: update 27 August 2021