Understanding Duty of Care in Relation to Business Travel

Our colleagues in Australia conducted a study Down Under to find out what local businesses thought about “duty of care,” a company’s obligation to take care of its employees in emergencies. The results show a significant knowledge gap of what’s required ethically and legally. Take a look at what the Aussies found and let us know what you think.

Travel can be a risky thing. It can encompass delayed flights, accommodation mix-ups and local language barriers, as well as civil unrest, exposure to disease, natural disasters and technology failings. Companies without an adequate risk management plan may find they are insufficiently prepared for these types of risk.

We spend a lot of time talking to companies about duty of care, a company’s responsibility for the wellbeing of its employees from both a moral and legal perspective, and how it extends to travelling employees. It’s a subject that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but should, because it’s increasingly relevant as business is changed by continued advances in technology and a more mobile workforce.

In Australia, the market is booming. Reliant on trade with emerging markets in Asia Pacific, it’s a place where the market is undergoing significant change. Part of this change is the noticeable and material impact technology has on the way companies operate, necessitating travel.

More than ever, business is conducted across multiple markets. Frequently, we find that business leaders are unsure as to how travel affects their responsibility toward their employees. New opportunities bring new operational challenges. If they are mismanaged, these opportunities have the potential to cause serious liability issues for an organisation.

Concur partnered with Galaxy Research to better understand this knowledge gap, and to trace the speed at which companies are adjusting to changing operational environments. We sought to understand perceived employer responsibility in the management of business travel, and likewise, to compare those perceptions with employee expectations. We explored understanding of the term duty of care within the Australian market , and have since released our study: Understanding duty of care in relation to business travel. I urge you to take a look.

As we predicted, the study showed widespread complacency within Australian companies. Findings showed:

  • 93% of business leaders are comfortable they can properly manage their company’s liabilities
  • 30% of businesses actually had a plan of action directly addressing travelling employees
  • 50% actively assess and manage employee risk on a regular basis
  • 54% of employees said their employer does not provide information and communication specific to unexpected eventualities whilst travelling for business

As always, ownership is key to getting things done, and the travel management function is rarely the responsibility of one person within an organisation. It is increasingly apparent that ownership of the duty of care plan must be assigned, and that the plan itself needs to have three components:

  1. Ensure the company has the understanding and technology to know the location of its employees while travelling
  2. Educate employees around risks to personal safety and security before they travel
  3. Be able to communicate with employees and provide assistance at all times, especially in an emergency

Concur firmly believes that failing to provide a plan of action is no longer acceptable. Employees are too valuable. Employers have a moral and legal responsibility for the health, safety and security of their employees. It is vital that this is considered in line with changing business practices. In an age abounding with technological solutions, ignorance is not a plea. Not sure where to start? Try Locate & Alert. You now have the ability to communicate with your employees in an emergency no matter where they are.

If you'd like to learn more about how Locate & Alert can enhance your duty of care, be sure to visit our Fusion session on the subject (117 - Understanding Employee Risk Management and How Concur Can Help). Not attending Fusion? Contact your Concur sales or account representative.

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