“Dual-purpose” travel by an employee occurs when the employee embarks on a trip on behalf of the employer that coincides with travel for the employee’s benefit. In other words, the journey serves both the business purpose of the employer and the personal purpose of the employee. Characterization of the trip as business, personal, or both does not have to be made at the outset of the trip. A trip can start out as purely personal but then transform into a business endeavor.
If the employee is injured during the course of the dual-purpose travel, he will be allowed workers’ compensation benefits if the service on behalf of the employer would have necessitated the trip even if the personal nature of the trip was not present. On the other hand, compensation would be denied if his employment did not necessitate the need for the trip and if the trip would not be made at all should the personal nature of the excursion evaporate.
Compensation for injuries occurring during dual-purpose travel can often be discerned from a quantitative standpoint. Basically, whether the measure of the trip is one that would justify an independent excursion on behalf of the employer. For example, an employee, who is a chef, plans a trip to Mexico for vacation. His employer, a catering business, asks him to bring back a case of salsa for serving at a Cinco de Mayo party it will be catering. The cost of the salsa equaled about $ 50. The fact that the sole employment connection with the trip was a mere $50 is a good indicator that the trip was a personal venture with the benefit to the employer being incidental. The employee would still take his vacation trip to Mexico even if the employer decided that the salsa was not needed. On the other hand, the employer would not spend the substantial amount of money necessary to fly to Mexico just for $ 50 worth of salsa. As a result, if the employee is injured while in Mexico, the fact that he purchased salsa for his employer would not re-characterize the trip such that workers’ compensation for the injury would be warranted.