Five best practices for handling duty of care for travelling employees

By Harry Allan

Business travel, while often essential, comes with increased risk for travelling employees and heightens the corporate liability of employers in providing duty of care to staff.

As employees become more autonomous and book less of their travel through a corporate travel agency, organisations have less visibility into the whereabouts of travelling employees. This can negatively affect employers’ ability to fulfil their duty of care.

Murray Warner, business development director, Concur, said: “Companies must know where their employees are at all times when they are travelling for business. If your organisation can’t contact an employee, especially if they need to be removed from a dangerous situation, you are failing in your duty of care to staff and placing the business at moral, legal, and financial risk.”

When identifying threats and communicating them to your employees, it is important to be proactive. Concur recommends that organisations follow a five-step process to handle duty of care requirements and keep staff safe when travelling:

1. Assess the threat

Is it a risk to an employee’s health and safety, or an impact to your business? Building a rubric for your business will let you scale life safety and business impact ratings for any given security disruption.

2. Define threat levels and next steps

Once the organisation has developed a specific threat level structure, it’s important to plan contingencies for each level. It’s not enough to know a level-five incident is occurring; management must also know what to do about it.

3. Send concise, clear communications

Tell all employees what the threat is and what its impact is likely to be. Ensure you use language that all employees will understand. Keep it short and simple, without jargon.

Warner said, “Implementing a tool that captures all corporate travel bookings, keeps track of all flights and hotels, and has push notifications to reach employees via a mobile app can help the business contact employees and keep them safe in the event of a threat.”

4. Find out if any of your employees are affected

Are you aware of employees being in the affected area? Using a risk messaging tool can help the business rapidly pull a report of any employees who may be travelling to, from, or through a high-risk location.

5. Reach out to travellers

When employees are travelling they may have limited communication channels due to power outages, downed servers, overloaded mobile phone towers, or loss of communications infrastructure. As with all company-wide communications, it’s essential to keep messages simple, short, and adaptable to a variety of mediums.

Warner said, “When businesses are identifying risks and communicating them to employees, it’s important to be proactive. The organisation may be able to mitigate the risk to employees, or at least minimise their discomfort and inconvenience, until they return safely. This is essential for staff morale and security when employees travel on behalf of the business.”

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