Companies have a duty of care to their employees and should take all possible steps to ensure their health, safety and well-being. While showing care for the physical and mental health of your employees can help improve staff retention, employee engagement and boost productivity, legally, employers must adhere to health & safety and employment law, in addition to the common law duty of care. They also have a moral obligation not to cause, or fail to prevent physical or psychological injury. An employer may breach their duty of care by not doing everything reasonably possible to keep the employee safe from harm.
Why is duty of care important in the context of business travel?
Duty of care is of vital importance when it comes to business travel because employees may be exposed to risks that may not apply when they’re working in their usual place of work. In large companies, travel risk management is a regular part of their business travel programme, but for smaller businesses who don’t have a business travel strategy, the risks associated with business travel can go overlooked.
Risks to business travellers include:
• Visiting and driving in unfamiliar places
• Standing out from the local population
• Fatigue and jet lag can impair their judgements
• Threats to health in particular areas of the world
• Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes
• Terrorist attacks
• Working alone in remote places
• Pandemic's such as Coronavirus
As well as the impact on an individual employee, any such risks may also affect a company’s productivity, profits and reputation. Mitigating any risks can help reduce the likelihood of them happening altogether or minimise the impact if an employee is affected.
Complying with the law
As a minimum, companies must:
#1 Have a written policy outlining their approach to health and safety
#2 Carry out risk assessments
#3 Provide employees with relevant information and training
As well as the above, under the law of negligence, employers have a general duty of care to make sure their employees don’t suffer any unreasonable harm when travelling abroad.
Talk to your travel management company to discuss how they can help you put in place a traveller safety programme that will help you comply, ensuring your employees are fully protected when they travel on behalf of your business.
We regularly help our clients build their first traveller safety programmes including implementing our tracking technology, providing traveller safety training and supporting the building of crisis management processes. If you are not working with a travel management company and have a number of travelling employees then this is a great reason to get one on board!
Based on our experience, we have put together a checklist to help you assess your current duty of care offered to your employees.