What does duty of care really mean for organisations that send it’s employees away on business?
It is a phrase that is often talked about especially by travel companies but what does it really mean and what are the implications?
Passenger safety has become an obvious concern especially recently with the Coronovirus pandemic and various other incidents we have witnessed around the world. This is a real and genuine concern as the health and wellbeing of travelling employees is paramount to all business'.
Travel can be stressful and take a toll on the body and mind that could affect an employee’s performance in a key meeting, as well as having a cumulative impact due to issues such as poor diet and disrupted sleeping patterns.
In the UK, employers have a legal duty-of-care for their employees wherever they are based or travelling, while the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations mean that companies also have the responsibility of undertaking risk assessments. This means that all of their time spent away from home is the responsibility of the employer. Organisations should have clear policies regarding their responsibility for employee health and wellbeing while abroad as there is a clear duty-of-care and legal responsibility. Companies should undertake risk assessments for every traveller to “identify any potential risks and seek to reduce the risks to an acceptable level”.
The standard of accommodation also has an effect on risk, particularly when considering things such as food poisoning and location within a city, which can be significant depending on the country being visited.
If a foreseeable risk exists and the employer fails to advise travellers or misrepresents the severity of that risk, then they can be liable for a health-related issue in the same way as a safety and security issue.
Examples could be failing to provide adequate immunisation advice for travellers going to a high-risk area of diseases like malaria, cholera or hepatitis.
Working with a TMC like us at The Travel Company Edinburgh will help to eliminate these risks because as well as giving your travellers and travel bookers adequate advice and information we can also work with your HR department to ensure we are meeting your requirements when developing a travel policy for you.
It’s not just about booking the cheapest airline ticket, if that’s going to be bad for the traveller and cause them lots of stress due to the timings or the routing. You might save money on the airline ticket, but then the employee could be off sick because you have made them take unnecessarily long or inconvenient flights, which will cost you more in the long-run.
I believe these are some of the questions that you should be asking yourself as an organisation if you haven’t already:
What business class policy should you implement to ensure travellers arrive rested?
What should the company position be on employees self-driving after long-haul flights, especially when crossing time zones when jetlag is a factor that could increase the risk of an accident?
Where do travellers go for a single source of facts on the current Covid-19 restrictions or the other health risks and advice?
Should extra layers of approval be built into the travel approval policy for destinations with high health risks?
If you need help with your travel policy and want to see if we can help reduce your travel expenditure please contact us.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +44 (0)131 467 7000
The Travel Company Edinburgh