Before You’re Out the Door: Duty of Care for Business Travelers

When you’re on the road, unexpected events can turn your business trip sour in a matter of minutes. Minor accidents, major storms, or even social or political unrest are the kind of lemons that can twist up communications and compromise your safety and security.

Your company is obligated to concern itself with your wellbeing in all business situations – especially disasters or unexpected bumps in the road. It’s called “duty of care” and it’s a legal and moral responsibility designed to protect your health, safety and welfare.

So what’s a road warrior to do when an actual disaster strikes?

First things first: be prepared

“It goes without saying that a heaping helping of common sense should be packed into each traveler’s suitcase prior to the trip,” says Jennifer Alford, Concur’s travel and expense administrator. “But preventing problems is our best defense.”

A few things to keep in mind before takeoff:

  • Ensure your travel itinerary is available in your company’s tools. “For Concur employees, if it was an open booking, we require the itinerary be uploaded in TripIt,” says Alford.
  • Review your travel policy and safety policy, and sign up for country-specific information on International SOS (ISOS), a travel resource that alerts international travelers to health and security risks, and provides local support.

Be sure a copy of your travel documents and emergency contacts is left in a secure location, including a photo should authorities request it.


In sickness and in health

If you find yourself in a spot where you don’t speak the language, but desperately need to see a doctor, Alford recommends calling your local ISOS emergency number to find the best care in the area.

Then be sure to notify your travel manager that you’re seeking medical attention – the ISOS service only notifies internal administrators if there is an emergency or evacuation. “As part of our duty of care, we request travelers check in through their mobile via Locate & Alert so we can assemble the correct response team depending on the situation,” says Alford. “We work with ISOS directly should the need arise for medical evacuation, transportation to higher-quality facilities or to provide emergency funds for care.”

The imperfect storm

Say an Icelandic volcano erupts and halts all flights from Europe to the United States.Or a major storm kicks in, knocking out power to the home office. Wild weather is bound to happen, but communicating with your travel manager can prevent further headaches. “We can assist you in rebooking flights when inventory opens or offer secondary options,” says Alford. “But the first thing you should do is secure a hotel room first, and find flight home later.”

No rest during political unrest

Last summer, riots in London embroiled the city in police clashes, fires and a lot of negative press, proving unexpected unrest can happen anywhere in the world. In a situation like that, common sense will usually kick in.

Remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible. If you’re in the thick of the fighting, find the nearest emergency response team that can keep you safe from the crowds. And keep your mobile handy, with emergency numbers pre-set.

Most of the time, business travelers don’t need to worry about wildfires or wild riots. But for your own peace of mind, it’s worth asking your travel manager if effective tools are in place to ensure your safety and communications on the road. In the end, it’s your duty to ask – and their duty to care. Visit Concur’s Locate & Alert page to learn more about how our services help your company comply with duty of care.

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