Taxman adds to the misery of travellers

As flights resume after a six-day shutdown, passengers stranded by the volcanic ash crisis face more woes after warnings that employees may struggle to get compensation for their repatriation costs.

Hotel and taxi companies have been making the most of the disruption by inflating prices, leaving many workers facing hefty bills in their efforts to get back to work in the UK. And commercial law firm EMW Picton Howell said that disputes are now flaring up over what can be deemed an allowable "business" expense.

"Unless the employer has expressly agreed that it will cover the repatriation costs, the employer is under no obligation to reimburse the employee," says Louise Holder of EMW Picton Howell.

To make matters worse, the law firm points out that HMRC will want its pound of flesh and will expect tax and National Insurance on any expenses, if the individual was on holiday while stranded.

"It is a real shame that HMRC can't waive its rules for this crisis and insists on increasing the expense bills for companies which want to help repatriate their staff," says Ms Holder.

Employees are advised to speak with their employers to check that any extra travel costs will be met.

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