What is duty of care?

Duty of care is the employer’s duty to protect the physical, mental and general well-being of the employee in all circumstances, including when traveling.   

In some cases, employees may read about the duty of care in the travel policy, which is the set of behaviors to be followed during a trip (read more here)

It covers all risk areas, both physical and non-physical, for example:

  • Health and Safety
  • Food and beverages provided by the company
  • Fire and earthquake regulations
  • Discrimination (gender, sexual orientation, race)
  • Stress
  • Violence

Specifically, in the context of business travel:

  • Environmental disasters
  • Situation of discontent in the population
  • Strikes
  • Public health emergencies
  • Transportation problems/disruptions

What elements need to be considered in the duty of care

Here are some recommendations to consider when writing a duty of care:

  • Accessibility: This document must be written in an understandable manner and be made easily available to all employees.
  • Technology: the use of travel risk management tools can make it easier to monitor workers on the road and thus allow the travel manager to know where workers are if something happens.
  • Pessimism: seeing everything black in this circumstance is fine, it’s better to be prepared (and especially prepare employees) for the worst possible scenario so that, should it happen, you can come out on top.
  • 24/7 Support: Giving assistance at all times should be the priority for companies that have travelers on the road.  

It is very important for the traveler to also have a person, inside the company, to turn to in case of need and for support.

How to write a duty of care policy

As we have already mentioned, duty of care is nothing more than the employer’s legitimate actions to protect the employee.

Whenever something happens, or someone gets hurt, you need to be able to prove why it happened despite the fact that the employee was doing his or her duty, and you must always be able to prove whose negligence it was.

So you need to:

  • Assess all risks
  • Draft travel policies
  • Educate employees on duty of care and risk assessment
  • Make it possible to track the location of employees when they are traveling

Duty of care when traveling

The travel manager (or whoever) must therefore implement a plan to research and prevent all possible risks that may be encountered on that particular trip. This is where travel risk management comes in, which is nothing more than the implementation, in the possible scenarios, of the duty of care.

It can be helpful to fill out pre-departure travel risk assessment reports based on global data, especially for high-risk destinations.

Strategic Planning  

Prevention, then, remains the key word in order to draft a duty of care that is truly effective. A company should, even before approving a trip, have documented itself on the possible risks in which employees may incur but, above all, inform its employees on the importance of complying with this document.

That’s because safety management doesn’t stop at just calculating risk; rather, you need to be prepared for how to deal with the risk itself. Making your workers aware of potential risks can help them get into the picture and make them understand how essential it is to follow this document for their own well-being and that of the company.

Duty of care for the protection of minorities

As with the travel risk management policy, it is very important that those involved in drafting the duty of care are well aware of how disparate people in various parts of the world have different needs so they require different care.

For example: the evaluation of all the risks that an LGBTQIA+ employee may incur in a state where not only is gay marriage not legalized, but it is also considered a crime to have a different sexual orientation than a straight one.  

Not only should this kind of minority be protected, but the same thing applies to female employees who in many East countries do not have the same freedoms they have in the West.

So what are the aspects to be taken into account?

Certainly it is imperative that the worker is protected in every possible circumstance, as mentioned earlier, beyond the simple calculation of risk.

According to Travel Guard, which has published this guide to safe travel entirely dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community with testimonials and specific cases told by travelers, we can summarize the most important points as follows:

  1. Understanding of the local community:
    • Pay attention to local traditions (whether you’re talking about the way you dress but also eating habits)
    • Be sure of the person you are talking to and do not share too much
    • Keep a low profile so as not to become a target
  1. Assess the potential risks of traveling to an intolerant country: this applies to both the LGBTQIA+ community and women for example. It’s legitimate to ask questions and make sure you have a support network behind you in case something happens.  
  2. Always stay connected: consider having devices to connect to the internet externally, so you can make sure you can access any communication service in case there is any urgency.  
  3. Social engagement: some testimonials point out how it is of absolute importance to try to find out, for example, which dating apps to use in certain countries because some are not safe.

Duty of care vs travel risk management

The definition of duty of care is the legal requirement to research and implement strategies that can mitigate traveler risk during travel.  

The set of processes and methodologies by which these risks are controlled, and consequently the duty of care met, is encapsulated in a document called travel risk management policy.

In fact, however, the duty of care is the set of potential areas where you may incur some risk, so in order to know how to behave there is need to make a study to assess the specific risk for each area taken into account.

What can BizAway do?

Leaning on a travel management company like BizAway can help you to keep many aspects of travel under control, such as providing travel safety tools, like Riskline, that provide real-time alerts and in case of risk, using dynamic maps which can track and know where your employees are at all times. Countries in the map are highlighted in different colours according to their risk level (low, very low, medium, medium-high, high). This will allow you, either when searching or when booking, to check the reported risk level according to three parameters (General risk level, Security risk level, Covid risk level) with a short description of what the situation is in the country you need to travel to. In addition, BizAway offers you 24/7 support for any of your needs.  

To sum it up

The duty of care is the set of all the behaviors that the employer must have to protect its employees in every situation. This policy must therefore be clear and understandable to employees to assert their rights should something untoward happen.