Doing your duty: Duty of Care for Business Travel
What is duty of care?
For many people, business travel is an essential part of their job. With globalization more employees than ever are traveling as part of their role and increasingly to high risk destinations all over the world.
While travel opens up many new business opportunities, it also means that employers have to make sure their staff is covered in case of any sudden event, including crime, lost passports, and even natural disasters while traveling.
Most employees know how to act prudently to avoid particular risks while abroad.
There are unforeseeable circumstances that can jeopardize business travel and even put people’s lives in danger.
This is why companies need to understand duty of care, which is the moral or legal obligation for employees to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees.
In the past, this has been seen mainly as a concern for large businesses in western countries. However, it is important for any company that requires its staff to travel abroad, even for a short time.
Providing duty of care to employees is a legal obligation in many countries.
Duty of care is also where a corporate travel manager can step in and assist.
They are often not only able to take care of booking flights, accommodations, but also able to act as contact between the employer and the employees while providing extensive support in the case of emergencies or unfortunate events.
When duty of care applies
Duty of care does not only apply in the case of life-threatening emergencies. When traveling, your employees are exposing themselves to several unfortunate events, such as:
Missing a flight
Losing passports or other documents
Illness or injury of a traveling companion
Natural disasters (who doesn’t remember that pesky Icelandic Volcano that paralyzed European aviation for weeks!)
Although it is often impossible to prevent those circumstances, you can help your employees by offering them a complete cover against these cases. This policy should also cover travel companions, as well as the relatives who are traveling with members of staff.
In other words, duty of care implies improving your staff’s wellbeing, from the pre-booking phase of their trip until the moment they come home again.
How do you ensure duty of care compliance?
Duty of care is an important feature that companies, small and large, should offer as part of their business travel program as soon as they start seeing a larger number of employees traveling.
To ensure compliance, companies must implement proper business travel management practices.
This includes choosing the right means of transport, safe accommodation, providing business travel insurance, providing destination-specific security alerts and additional services, and knowing where your employees are if something does happen.
Common duty of care practices includes:
Travel risk insurance
Security risk alerts per destination
Ability to limit travel to high risk destinations
Require employees to book via approved travel providers
Database of employee emergency contact details
Integration with global security information providers to provide alerts to employees on trips
Access to the medical history of traveling employees
Ensuring traveling employees have the required immunizations
Ensuring compliance not only gives the employer peace of mind, but also protects it against any legal exposure that could arise from not having implemented a sound duty of care policy.
Duty of Care in Asia
Duty of care is still an emerging concept in Asia and there is generally a relatively low awareness compared to the rest of the world. Most jurisdictions in Asia do not have workplace Duty of Care legislation.
The companies that offer Duty of Care to its employees are usually foreign Fortune 500 companies that are operating in the APAC region. However, it is important to note that Asian companies setting up operations in markets such as the UK, US, or Australia will have to comply with local regulation.
How a corporate travel manager can help
When traveling, employees are exposed to a wide variety of risks. This means that companies have the legal and moral obligation to provide solutions to reduce risk and ensure the safety of their employees.
If you are looking for an expert in this field, a good option is to hire a corporate travel manager. Nowadays, even the smallest companies can delegate the implementation of their business travel management to trusted travel management companies.
Corporate travel managers can help you analyze your travel program and understand what health and security measures are required with the destinations that your employees visit.
They can also provide you with employee tracking tools that will allow you to know exactly where your employees are at any given time.