Understanding Your Duty of Care for Business Travel

by Emese Graham
business traveller checks her phone while waiting for a flight

Happy, healthy and looked-after employees are the bedrock of any business, and these requirements escalate in importance when it comes to their well-being while travelling for business, especially in international locations.

What Is Meant By ‘Duty Of Care’?

Quite simply, it means your duty, as an employer, to care for your employees. This is not just a moral obligation but a legal one, too. It means you must do everything you reasonably can to ensure their safety while travelling for business, and to remove as many risks to their mental and physical health as you can. We’ll cover your Duty of Care policy further down this page, but as a general note, it should cover everything from top-level concerns, right down to the small details, like ensuring there’s a plan in place in the event on one of your employees losing their travel documents.

Why Is Duty Of Care Important?

Proper Duty of Care is of the utmost importance, and your various obligations should be clearly defined in an internal document that’s been approved by both the human resources and legal departments. Duty of Care should cover an employee for all types of travel, and it’s a misconception that it’s only relevant when sending employees to destinations with a travel advisory.

Specifically, some of the reasons why you should take Duty of Care seriously include (but are not limited to):

  • Staff well-being
  • Staff retention
  • Legal implications

What Kinds Of Things Should Duty Of Care Cover?

The easiest way to formulate your Duty of Care policy when it comes to business travel is to categorize it down into three verticals: pre-travel, during travel, and post-travel.

Pre-Travel

One of the primary concerns here involves risk assessment, which means an analysis of various factors that are related to any one trip. Generally speaking, the higher the perceived risk, the more thorough the risk assessment should be.

The two main considerations involve the individual travelling, and the external environment they’ll be working in.
As for the former, you’ll need to have a reasonably good understanding of their general physical and mental health, and ensure they aren’t put in any situations which could exacerbate any ailments, be that a heart condition or anxiety disorder. As for the latter, you’ll need to take into account things like road safety (and plan transport accordingly), the climate, the presence of diseases or viruses (e.g. if the destination is in a malaria zone, precautions should be taken) and adverse weather.

During Travel

Things to cater for here include:

  • Ensuring the location of the employee is always known (for example, via a geo-tracking system in a travel app, so that managers know exactly where the individual is at any given moment)
  • Making sure the employee knows where to seek help should something go awry (like a cancelled flight), and that they know help is actually on hand (this is where travel management services like FCBT are of crucial importance, with things like 24/7 emergency hotlines)
  • Protocol for response management

Post-Travel

In most cases, once the employee is back home, Duty of Care in a business travel sense becomes slightly less important, as any risk factors are now mostly gone. However, it’s still vitally important to provide things like post-travel health check-ups (for example, if an employee has spent significant time in a high-risk malaria zone).
In a nutshell, the more you look after your employees, the better it is for your business in the long run.

Crisis Management

A major part of your Duty of Care and Travel Policy is how you can respond fast and effectively to a crisis, with the help of your Travel Management Company. At Flight Centre Business Travel, we follow a comprehensive four-step plan to safeguard your travellers and minimize any inconvenience or distress they may face. Should something go wrong we will:

  1. Gather knowledge
  2. Identify your travellers
  3. Communicate
  4. Find a solution to ensure your travellers’ safety

Because you and your business deserve better.

Whether you are a small to medium sized business owner or an entrepreneur running a startup, contact us for your free consultation by calling 1 866 940 0217 today.

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