Applying Duty of Care to Business Travel: Employer Considerations

By Jessica Larkin

With the steady increase in business travel, employer responsibility, moral obligation, and employee safety are top of mind in the corporate world. However, business leaders are often unfamiliar with how business travel impacts their responsibility toward employees, or, to use the technical term, duty of care.

Duty of care is a hot topic, especially for organizations that conduct business over multiple markets. “With approximately 40 percent of air travel being for business purposes, companies have hundreds of thousands of employees travelling to thousands of cities around the world on a daily basis,” notes Security Magazine. “Keeping them safe is of utmost importance, and having a reliable travel risk management program and duty of care policy in place is essential for any business.”

At the end of the day, you need to ensure that your employees are mindful of their health, safety, and well-being while traveling for work. In this post, we’ll dive into duty of care–what it is, employer responsibilities, and how a travel management company (TMC) can assist with compliance and corporate-wide understanding.

What Exactly is Duty of Care?

According to a leading independent insurer, “Duty of care presumes individuals and organizations have legal obligations to act toward others and the public in a prudent and cautious manner to avoid the risk of reasonably foreseeable injury to others. Employers have the moral and legal responsibility and obligation for the health, safety and security of their employees, especially those traveling on behalf of the employer.”

It’s worth noting that duty of care applies to every possible work travel scenario–local meetings, overseas business trips, conferences, you name it. In addition to employees, contractors and board members are also covered.

Often, duty of care and risk management are used interchangeably. However, we would be remiss not to highlight the difference between the two. While duty of care covers moral and legal responsibilities of an employer, risk management is the plan that ensures duty of care is applied, and how an employees are kept safe if a situation were to arise.

Why Duty of Care and Managed Travel Go Hand-in-Hand

When it comes to duty of care, it is essential to support business travelers and their managers at every stage, including planning assistance, support during the actual trip, and after the employee returns.

Before a trip takes place, a TMC can provide duty of care support by supplying information on travel destinations, alerts regarding disruptive global events or weather concerns, as well as ensuring traveler profiles are up-to-date. This includes records of health issues and emergency contact information.

As we’ve stated previously, if your employees book through a managed travel platform, their flight details, the name of the hotel, and itinerary information are readily available to their approving manager. As an employer, you should make available to the employee information on travel insurance and a corporate emergency contact number.

We believe it is essential for business travelers to have support around-the-clock, not only for emergencies, but for anything from changing a flight to booking a different hotel. With TravelBank, our customer service team is available any time, day or night, to support your road warriors. This is a duty of care essential and you’ll be happy to know that the 24/7 support is available without an additional fee. It is our job to mitigate stress for travelers while also providing peace of mind for managers that their team is supported. For more information on our multi-channel support options, check out our recent blog, found here.

Even after an employee has returned from the road, expense report review and approval, as well as ensuring the trip was compliant based on travel policies, all fall under business responsibilities and duty of care.

Integrating Duty of Care into Your Corporate Travel Policy

Your corporate travel policy is a great way to provide employees with guardrails and let them know that their safety is your priority. As travel experts, we can absolutely guide you in the creation of your duty of care parameters, help integrate them into your corporate travel policy, and then streamline everything into our app to support the entire user experience.

Buy-in across the organization is far easier when employees feel that the company is transparent as to what safety policies entail. An effective duty of care policy will improve business travel for your employees, and as a result, yield better performance on the road.

If you would like to learn more about how managed travel can support your organization’s duty of care responsibilities and help keep your travelers both safe and informed, let’s chat. Please click here to schedule a meeting with one of our managed travel experts.

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