Business Travel Updates – A Legal Roundup

For your reading pleasure between flights, (or, if you have in-cabin wifi, at 30,000 feet) here is a quick look at recent Business Travel updates published by law firms on JD Supra:

Summer Business Trips Combined with Vacation May Provide Tax Benefits (Duane Morris LLP):

“Although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not specify how to determine if the primary reason for domestic travel is business, the number of days spent on business versus pleasure is a key factor. Travel days count as business days, as do weekends and holidays if they fall between days devoted to business and it would be impractical to return home. ‘Standby days,’ when physical presence is required, but work is not necessarily performed, also count as business days. Any other day principally devoted to business activities during normal business hours is also counted as a business day, as are days when work was expected but not possible, due to reasons such as local transportation difficulties, power failures, etc. 

For domestic trips, business will likely be considered as the primary reason for a sojourn whenever the business days exceed the personal days. You may want to accumulate and maintain proof by logging everything in a daily planner. No deductions are allowed for a spouse, dependent or other individual who accompanies the taxpayer or employee on a business trip unless such person is an employee of the person who is paying or reimbursing the expenses, the travel of such person serves a bona-fide business purpose and the expenses of such person are otherwise deductible.” Read more»

Business Travel Security Holes – and How to Plug Them (Fenwick & West LLP):

“Laptops (and, whenever possible, other portable devices), once encrypted, enable one to reap two major benefits, one altruistic and one selfish. First, the humane reward: in case the machine gets lost or stolen, whoever has the laptop will not be able to pull any data, let alone confidential information, off of the machine. As a result, confidential information, as well as private information as to co-workers, customers and others is protected. Second, the self-interest boon: anti-identity-theft statutes typically exempt lost or stolen encrypted personally identifiable information (PII) from triggering the duty of the data owner to give notice of breach. Thus, those who take precautions are spared the monetary costs and the PR-hit that inevitably flow from a notice-of-breach scenario.

But even if encryption protects files from getting into other hands, one’s work has been for naught if he/she didn’t back-up a document to another location. So, after each flight, a best practice is to make sure to copy new or newly edited documents back to the law firm’s network. Our firm’s IT Director Kevin Moore trained me years ago that the hard drive of a portable computer or device is like cash, but central storage on a network is like a credit card. The former, if lost or stolen, is lost for good. The latter is recoverable even if one local copy of it is lost or corrupted.” Read more»

Work and Travel Made Easier for Adjustment of Status Applicants (Mintz Levin – Immigration Group):

“Starting February 11, 2011, USCIS will begin issuing employment and travel authorization for Adjustment of Status applicants in a single card, doing away with the separate paper approvals formerly issued for travel authorization (otherwise known as Advance Parole). This card is to be issued when an applicant files an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and an Application for Travel Document (I-131) concurrently with, or after, filing a Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. 

The card looks similar to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) but will also include text that reads, ‘Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.’ USCIS will continue to issue separate EAD and Advance Parole Documents as needed; for example, if you file one application but not the other.” Read more»


Bonus for reading this far: a business- and travel-related cautionary tale. Check your final destination!

Employee’s FMLA Claim Dismissed After Taking a Trip to Cancun (Franczek Radelet P.C.):

“Denise Pellegrino, a employee of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), informed CWA that she needed to undergo a hysterectomy. CWA approved Pellegrino for FMLA leave, an absence which ran concurrently with paid sick leave. Shortly thereafter, Pellegrino scheduled her surgery, and both her unpaid FMLA leave and paid sick leave began. … About two weeks after surgery, Pellegrino took off for Cancun, Mexico for one week. Pellegrino did not inform CWA that she would be leaving the country, nor did she request permission to travel.” Read more»


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