It’s every manager’s worst nightmare – a seemingly regular business trip goes wrong and your employee goes missing abroad. Your emails are unanswered, calls unreturned, and the employee fails to turn up to their scheduled meeting.
Whilst the possible harm to your employee is undoubtedly and rightly your main concern, the consequences for businesses which have failed to adequately pre-empt and plan for risk can be dire – from finding yourself in the middle of a media inquisition to the possibility of criminal charges.
Under the UK’s Health & Safety legislation, companies owe a duty of care to their employees and must take reasonable steps to protect their personnel (from sourcing safe vehicle hire to understanding the employee’s pre-existing illnesses). However, many businesses are ill informed about exactly what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’, as the buck doesn’t simply stop with a travel insurance policy. This, in isolation, does not represent a duty of care plan and will not prevent the employee from being exposed to risk. Instead, careful planning and ongoing management should be at the foundation of every overseas trip, particularly when considering the unique and unexpected risk factors that some countries face. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the recent uncharacteristic protests in Hong Kong and terrorist attacks in Europe, the varied nature and scope of risk has certainly been shown by events of late.
The overwhelming force of globalisation has changed the structure and pace of corporate life – meaning travelling internationally is a necessary part of doing business for globally operating companies. Assessing the risks for business travellers is about so much more than insurance, as the costs to a business of an employee coming to harm whilst working away from home can be far more significant. Pre-empting risk is essential in order for every business that works internationally to avoid fines, imprisonment – and ultimately danger to their employees.
This post was written by Matthew Judge, Group Managing Director, ANVIL, which is launching the next generation of its traveller security application TRIS at the Business Travel Show today and tomorrow. Register online or onsite - www.businesstraveller.com/register