What does duty of care mean for corporate travel?
Just like the way a hospital has an obligation to provide a level of care for an injured person or anyone under their treatment, employers also have a commitment to their employees. It ensures that they have a safe working environment and that they always receive reasonable care while at work. And it doesn’t just apply to the office; it also extends to when an employee is out on the road.
Maintaining the well-being of travellers and ensuring that they are safe should be an absolute priority for companies. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to protect their employees from any safety risks while they’re away on business. This responsibility and commitment to employee travel safety is known as duty of care. But what does duty of care consist of, and how does it work?
Duty of care for business travel
For corporate travel, duty of care is an obligation to a standard of care that a business has to its employees and others. When an individual travels on behalf of a company, appropriate travel procedures and policies need to be in place and clearly understood. This involves anticipating potential risk, implementing preventative measures, and having a plan in place to respond quickly and effectively to any emergencies that might arise during the course of travel. Typically, duty of care is implemented and maintained through a corporate travel policy.
Why is duty of care important?
Chances are, you probably already have some form of duty of care procedures for your office – for example, a plan of action for different emergency scenarios. These procedures aren’t just logistically necessary, they’re a legal obligation. This also applies for employee safety when they’re travelling for work. Companies need to maintain their safety the best they can, to avoid breaching duty of care and any potential civil liability.
As well as this, duty of care should be a fundamental part of a company’s corporate culture. This type of culture in the workplace sends a message to your employees that their well-being and safety are a priority. With the right duty of care procedures in place, your employees feel confident, valued and reassured that their safety matters.
Examples of duty of care in corporate travel
There are many examples of what duty of care looks like in different scenarios. For corporate travel, many companies use business travel solutions that can offer duty of care services that include:
- Travel alerts and safety information
Real-time notifications and safety information are sent during unforeseen circumstances and provide travellers with important alerts in the event of an emergency. Notifications and alerts can be sent out for anything ranging from health safety concerns, to flight changes due to inclement weather, or even political unrest if it poses a potential risk to travellers.
- Emergency assistance
If they miss a flight or an emergency occurs, employees need to be able to reach assistance at all times – not just during standard business hours. That’s why many corporate travel solutions offer 24/7 assistance. These services can include medical assistance, evacuation plans, or even legal support.
- Health and vaccination
Always important but especially since the start of the pandemic, business travellers should also have access to any health guidelines and be made aware of any vaccinations they should have before entering a new country.
- Safe accommodation
Making sure accommodation meets safety standards and is located in safe areas, is an important way to minimise risk during business trips. Companies can ensure that only reputable hotels are booked through business travel tools that have extensive databases and can find accommodation that meets the required criteria.
- Travel insurance
Life being what it is, plans sometimes need to change. Offering comprehensive travel insurance to employees can protect them from unforeseen events, medical emergencies or trip cancellations.
Duty of care for travel managers
Travel managers play a crucial role implementing duty of care practices within an organisation. Developing, communicating and enforcing the travel policies and procedures that prioritise employee safety during business trips, is a general duty of theirs and they need to perform their due diligence by working closely with many departments, including HR, Legal, and Risk Management to establish an appropriate and comprehensive duty of care programme.
In addition, travellers will rely on travel managers before and during their trip. So it’s important for them to stay up-to-date with global events, travel notifications and potential risks for any destination employees might be visiting during their work trips, as well as any other duty of care guidelines your company might have. By being proactive and vigilant, travel managers can ensure employees are well-prepared and supported throughout their journey.
Why do travel managers need a duty of care or risk management programme?
When employees travel for work, companies have a fiduciary duty to their employees’ wellbeing and safety. Failing to provide reasonable care that results in an incident, could make your business legally responsible for any injuries or damages. Other reasons why it’s important for travel managers to have a duty of care or risk management programme include:
- Legal compliance
Having a robust programme in place will help protect your business from potential exposure to legal action and liability, as companies are legally responsible for their employees. Failure to meet duty of care obligations can result in legal consequences.
- Employee wellbeing and productivity
When employees know that they’re safe and supported during their trips, they can focus on the business side of things. And knowing that they can rely on you to make their safety a priority can help improve morale and boost employee retention and satisfaction.
- Reputation and brand image
Your company’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of your employees reflects positively on brand image. It can also help attract top talent and foster strong partnerships with customers.
- Cost savings
Another good reason to have a programme in place is because it can help identify and mitigate potential risks that result in costly incidents and disruptions during business trips.
- Being prepared for crisis situations
Perhaps most importantly, a well-designed duty of care programme includes contingency plans for emergencies that aids a swift and coordinated response in critical situations.
Egencia helps you put duty of care first
Maintain the wellbeing of your employees with the right risk management programme. From the moment they book a trip until their safe return home, we can help bolster your travel policy to protect your people — even when they’re far away.