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. However duty of care is not just about emergencies and major world events – it could be someone losing their passport, missing a flight or falling ill while abroad. It’s also about those travel details that can improve your employees’ wellbeing, like making sure they don’t have to drive after a long-haul flight.
What is duty of care?
The perception and profile of duty of care has changed dramatically over recent years. Previously thought of as a concern for larger organisations, those with high risk travel or managing emergency travel situations – duty of care has now become a recognised essential for any travel programme.
Duty of Care refers to the moral and legal obligations of employers to their employees, contractors, volunteers and related family members in maintaining their well-being, security and safety when working, posted on international assignments or working in remote areas of their home country.
In those circumstances, individuals and organisations have legal obligations to act prudently to avoid the risk of reasonable foreseeable injury or exposures leading to ill health. This obligation may apply both to acts and omissions. In addition to that, the employers are due to build a broad culture within their organisation addressing the health, safety, security and well-being of their employees and other related collaborators to the business. To do so, they are expected to develop and deploy appropriate travel risk management approaches to protect people from possible harm.
The importance of duty of care
Making sure that your employees feel safe and taken care of gives you a number of benefits. Firstly, simplifying travel and removing any nuisances makes it easier for your employees to get work done.
Secondly, looking after employees is a good way of retaining the very best staff.
If you’re branching out into new markets, you might find yourself sending employees to destinations where travel isn’t straightforward. So it becomes even more important to put in place simple solutions for employees if they come into difficulty. There’s also a need to prepare your employees ahead of their trip, so that they can clearly understand necessary preparations and what to expect when they arrive.
How businesses manage duty of care
The management of duty of care varies by organisation. Some businesses have an established, extensive duty of care programme with cross-functional teams spanning the travel department, HR, security, risk management and senior managers. Often these organisations have safety engrained in their culture such as those operating in the energy and offshore industries.
In other organisations, often smaller, departments such as HR or senior managers are solely responsible for ensuring the safety of travellers. In some cases, there is no direct reference to duty of care in travel policies – and reasons behind maximum driving hours for example, are not explicitly explained as a safety initiative.
Regardless of the size of your organisation, communication is vital. Travellers should be fully briefed before, during and after travel with necessary information and contact numbers – this includes familiarity with your travel policy. During travel it is important that employees have access to necessary information, such as who to contact in an emergency or specific high risk areas to avoid in their final destination.
How can a Travel Company help?
• Pre-trip reports – providing globally consolidated information on travel itineraries, particularly any booked to high risk destinations or out of policy
• Travel alerts – keeping travellers and travel teams up-to-date with any potential disruptions or global events
• Traveller profiles – key to any duty of care programme is ensuring that traveller profiles are current, including emergency contact numbers or records of any health issues
• Employee tracking system – tools that enable the travel or safety manager to understand where their travellers are at any one time, based on ticketed itineraries
• In-house 24/7 services – not just for emergencies but to deliver support at any time of the day and night, be that changing itineraries or asking for advice when travel is delayed
• Major emergency response management – should the worst scenario occur, having support from your travel management company in regards to emergency response teams and planning is a necessity so you can react quickly and efficiently
Want to know if you are fulfilling your duty? Please get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07841 920752 0131 467 7000 and we can help with putting a duty of care plan together or ensuring the one you have in place remains best practice, including the latest travel tools.