As more businesses seek to expand their global reach, business travel has become an increasingly common job expectation for employees. And while corporate travel is mostly business as usual, things don’t always go according to plan. In these instances, duty of care is an essential part of your company’s legal obligation to keep your employees safe when they're on the go.
Why duty of care is so important
From political unrest and natural disasters to crime, motor vehicle accidents and more, there are a vast number of unplanned-for situations that could end up endangering your employees and costing your company. Even minor inconveniences such as lost luggage, missed flights, and the stress of being away from family can have a big impact on their productivity and emotional wellbeing. As a travel manager, when your employees are travelling on company business, they’re under your care.
The benefits of a duty of care policy
A duty of care policy is your company’s way to safeguard against dangers that may be associated with business travel. Not only is this an important way to protect your valuable employees, it’s also a vital part of establishing your company as a responsible and reputable employer. A further, and very important, advantage of having a proper duty of care policy in place, is to avoid potential legal and financial issues in the unfortunate event of an employee harmed while away on business. It's a comprehensive and consolidated programme that you can use to effectively manage risk.
What every Duty of Care Policy should cove
While every duty of care policy should be tailored to the specific travel needs and risk management strategy of the company, there are some essential steps that should always be taken.
Research your destination: Compile a comprehensive document regarding your employees’ destinations and travel routes. Keep up to date on current political and medical developments that may pose a risk to travellers. Gain a full understanding of the various transport options, road conditions and environmental factors, as well as any vaccinations or medications required.
Educate your employees: Armed with the right knowledge, employees can respond appropriately and timeously to hazardous situations. Provide health and safety training sessions to all employees and their managers. Ensure that all business travellers have a full understanding of what benefits, policies and support is available to them.
Medical background check: Before your employees set off, ensure that they are fit to travel. Encourage them to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions or chronic medication they are taking. This could make all the difference should a medical problem arise.
Emergency plan: Set up an immediate emergency response plan. Make sure your employees know exactly what numbers to call, who to speak to and where to go in case of an emergency.
Travel insurance: For everyday inconveniences such as lost baggage and missed flights, ensure that the correct travel insurance is in place to secure your employees’ comfort and manage their stress.
Learn the local customs: Inform employees of any important cultural, social and religious customs of their foreign destinations. This may help avoid any untoward misunderstandings or confrontations. Specific local laws and any particular safety issues should also be conveyed.
Keep track: It’s essential to know the whereabouts of your travellers at all times. Establish a traveller tracking system that allows you to track, identify and communicate with travellers wherever they are.
Keep in mind
When drawing up your duty of care policy, it’s important to include key stakeholders from HR, legal, security and other relevant departments. They can help determine any areas that might have been overlooked. While it’s not possible to avoid every risk associated with business travel, a proper duty of care policy goes a long way to ensuring that your employees return safe and sound.
For more information or help with your duty of care policy, contact one of our travel experts.