How to...

ensure duty of care to employees

It is a company’s legal and moral responsibility to take care of their employees when they travel on behalf of their company. Paul Casement, Director of Sales and Account Management at Portman/Clarity, offers some advice


STEP 1: THE RISKS. When faced with the prospect of an employee travelling abroad on business, it’s vital to pose some initial questions. Why are they travelling? Where are they going? What will they do when they get there? This duty of care is essential for protecting the people you send off to work on your behalf.

In a time where global unrest, terror attacks, security breaches, infectious diseases and political unrest are increasingly common, employers must evaluate any potential dangers and the risks of sending employees abroad for work.

The key to providing adequate duty of care is to demonstrate that steps have been taken to identify and assess all foreseeable risks and eliminate them by building a travel risk assessment programme into your corporate travel policy.

STEP 2: ASSESSMENT. Offering training and education programmes for travellers is important and these can range from online awareness courses on general travel risks and how to avoid them, to medical risks, specific country preparation and intercultural training.

Companies can also take steps to provide pre-trip information reports covering destination risk assessments, medical information and country profiles.

Deploying a traveller tracking system that can pinpoint a traveller’s exact location and allows identification and communication with those at risk in crisis situations is vital, as is providing 24/7 personal support to travellers.

STEP 3: COMMUNICATION. It may sound obvious, but does your business keep up-to-date contact details for every employee and their next of kin? If not, it should be a key exercise to ensure this information is regularly updated. Good communication also extends to being aware of the latest travel news and updates and keeping abreast of advice and alerts issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

STEP 4: INSURANCE. Not only could it potentially save businesses thousands of pounds in medical, legal and flight cancellation fees, but it will also entitle your employees to immediate care, as and when they need it. Carrying an EHIC card in countries within the EU entitles the holder to the same medical attention – and fees – as a native of that country. Medical care and fees are often high outside of the EU. A broken leg in the US, for example, could set back patients without travel insurance up to $9,500 and they may be put to the bottom of a long waiting list.

STEP 5: APPROVED PARTNERS. Flying with an EU approved airline with a good safety record ought to be top priority, as should booking accommodation in a safe location with good security. Using the services of a travel management company is also advised

A TMC will carry out risk assessments and monitor staff itineraries to provide real-time reports and advice on safety precautions, as well as booking travel and accommodation and troubleshooting in the event of a crisis.