Keeping travellers safe: how can your company meet its duty of care requirement?

14 Nov 2016

As global travel increases, especially in emerging markets, companies are placing more emphasis on risk management and duty of care. Travel is, after all, inherently risky because it places people in unknown environments and unfamiliar situations. Duty of care is not just the concern of companies with high risk travel; it is a crucial component of any responsible business.

What is duty of care?

Duty of care is about more than making sure your employees arrive safely at their destinations, it is also to ensure that you have managed the safety risks throughout your traveller’s entire trip. In this context, the legal concept of duty of care presumes that organisations have legal obligations to act toward their employees in a prudent and cautious manner to avoid the risk of reasonably foreseeable injury. If your employees have to travel for business of any kind, it’s up to you to ensure their safety as far as possible and communicate to them what to do in the event of an emergency.

What risks do business travellers face?

Perhaps you think of dramatic events like terrorism, kidnapping or natural disasters when you think of travel risks, but business travellers face many unforeseen risks while traveling on behalf of their employer, including:

  • Health risks like malaria, food poisoning or the flu,
  • cancelled or missed flights and missing luggage,
  • injuries like car accidents, or
  • political and cultural conflict.

By developing a corporate travel strategy, your company or organisation can identifying possible risks to employees, and plan for unforeseeable risk. Being prepared to respond to any possible incident at any time is essential not only to protect the traveller from physical risk, but to protect the company from reputational risk.

How do you manage your organisation’s duty of care obligation?

Understand the risks associated with travel

Your travel management company should be able to assist you in analysing your travel programme to understand where your employees are travelling, and to will help you ascertain which health and security precautions would be prudent based on the risks associated with a particular destination.

Provide 24/7 assistance services for personal support to travellers in need

Make sure that your travel company is able to provide you with around-the-clock assistance for each traveller, and that the traveller knows how to reach their travel expert.

Provide adequate travel insurance

Often employees don’t realise that booking travel with a credit card may not offer them sufficient cover in case of an emergency. Ensure that your travellers are covered for minor travel risks like missing luggage, but that they also have sufficient medical and specific security coverage.

Develop a corporate travel policy or policies

Your travel management company will be able to assist you in developing a travel security and incident management policy that includes measures for providing protection services, preparing evacuations and arranging for medical treatment. Update this document often and make sure your travellers know what to do in case of an emergency.

Educate and communicate

Once you have the necessary policies in place it is important to ensure that travellers are familiar with the policies and processes, and that they have all the necessary contact information. Your training and awareness programme should include:

  • awareness courses on general travel risks and how to avoid or reduce them,
  • medical risks, and
  • specific country preparation and intercultural training.

Companies are embracing technology as a way to keep their travellers informed – like online awareness training, or the Corporate Traveller mobile app that provides useful information including destination guides and advice, and a 5 day weather forecast.

Know where employees are

Knowing where your employees are and how to reach them is a simple, yet effective risk mitigating strategy. Make sure you have your traveller’s full itinerary, including any leisure travel he or she may have after their business trip, and make sure you can reach him or her when you need to.

Ask an expert

If you are uncertain whether your company is meeting your duty of care requirement, ask a Corporate Traveller travel expert to assist you. We can provide you with guidance as to the best tools to manage the safety of your travellers.