Duty of Care for Business Travel

What is duty of care for business travellers?
So, what does Duty of Care mean, and why is it so important in travel? Duty of Care is a reference to “a company’s moral and legal obligation to strive for the well-being, health, and safety of its employees whilst they perform their duties.
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What this means is that your business should have a plan in place to keep employees safe while they are travelling for business. This includes assessing a wide range of potential risks and challenges facing road warriors and taking every precaution to negate them. And there is a lot that can go wrong when travelling – from simple issues like missing a flight or losing a passport to more serious issues like having an accident.

Practical tips for planning and prevention:

Let’s unpack the key elements of a Duty of Care programme for business travel managers to include in their travel programme:

  1. Travel Policies:

    As a start, re-assess your travel policy and identify areas for improvement. Then, implement clearly defined and communicated travel policies that provide guidelines for employees. These policies should highlight expectations and requirements during their trips and must include details and guidelines on safety protocols and emergency contacts and procedures.

  2. Risk Assessment

    Before authorising a trip, companies should research and evaluate the risk level per destination before employees travel. This means assessing the political climate and any security and health risks of the chosen route and destination. Consider implementing pre-trip approval to high-risk destinations. Also, arrange pre-travel briefings to ensure employees are informed about potential risks and are equipped with the necessary knowledge to navigate what might be unfamiliar environments.

  3. Service Provider Vetting

    Evaluate travel service suppliers for safety and reliability. Take time to establish the credibility of chosen partners. Use well-known brands where appropriate, read recent travel reviews, and work in partnership with your travel management company to address any doubts regarding unknown or new service providers in the market.

  4. Individual Health and Wellness

    Ensure that personal well-being is prioritised. Travellers should know the recommended vaccines/ health requirements before travel, how and where to access medical treatment and evacuation contingencies. Provide appropriate vaccination advice and accessibility, adequate health insurance coverage, and access to medical facilities if needed.

  5. Real-time information updates

    Ensure that employees have the means to stay informed about any changes in travel conditions, security alerts, or other relevant information. Here, your travel management company can assist by providing traveller tracking to warn travellers of potential risk developments and help track them in emergencies.

  6. Emergency Procedures

    Have a backup plan in case of emergency.Inform employees about who to contact in case of an emergency and provide readily available support 24/7. This includes having dedicated hotlines and support staff capable of handling a range of issues that might arise. Should an unfortunate incident occur, be prepared to provide support such as medical assistance, counselling services, and assistance with insurance claims.

Fortunately, there are many tools available for the diligent travel manager and leveraging technology is crucial for the effective implementation of a successful Duty of Care program. Implement and promote the use of the many travel management platforms, communication apps, and tracking tools available wherever possible.

Duty of Care extends beyond the obvious protection of precious employees. Businesses that prioritise the well-being of their people demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility, which enhances both their reputation and brand image. It reduces disruptions and ensures employee safety, which means operational continuity and minimised legal liabilities. Makes sense to get it right!