Duty of Care in business travel

Duty of care in business travel
When your employees travel for business, duty of care is of the utmost importance. Not only should you have systems in place to ensure the safety of your team while they’re away, but make sure they know where to turn if something – however small – goes wrong.
As regular business travellers, your employees need assurance of your support and assistance if there’s a problem while they’re abroad, no matter when or where it occurs. Meanwhile, as an employer, you need to know that your staff’s response to a problem while away will be in line with the company’s risk mitigation strategy. This is where duty of care comes in.

Where travel management companies come in

Duty of care has evolved in recent years, and it is no longer solely for the larger, higher risk businesses. It is now essential for any company to have a comprehensive duty of care programme, no matter how large or small. A good travel management company (TMC) such as Corporate Traveller is therefore invaluable, especially for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) where employee networks are less established and more support is needed for individuals. A TMC will be able to guide you on the delivery of the duty of care programme, advising travel managers and business travellers throughout their trips. This isn’t just about planning for emergencies, but also ensuring the wellbeing of employees while they travel.

In-depth local market knowledge

With business travel stretching further across the globe than ever before, TMCs are becoming increasingly called upon for destination specific advice, especially in the less familiar emerging markets such as South America, Asia and Africa. Corporate Traveller’s clued-up experts are on-hand to advise about in-country health and safety, as well as having in-depth knowledge of flights, hotels and transport routes to the remotest of locations. As one of the larger TMCs, Corporate Traveller has a well-established global assistance network, including both after-hours and on-the-ground support wherever and whenever necessary. Networks such as this give your employees the peace of mind that they will be looked while away, and can focus on the business trip in hand.

New business travel trends

As business travellers head further and further afield, the reasons for problems encountered are becoming increasingly varied. When once it was usually the weather that disrupted flights, these days delays are caused by various factors, including strikes and security incidents. This is compounded by the fact that, as SME business travellers are also flying long-haul more than ever before on more complex, sometimes multi-country itineraries, the possibility of disruption somewhere along the way is increasing. The new trend for more complicated travel routes emphasises the need for increased duty of care. SME businesses must have support networks in place for their executives, and ensure all policies are followed.

Mandating travel policies

To avoid any element of risk, it is essential that businesses mandate their travel policies and have control over the travel that their staff are booking. Streamlining the travel booking procedure and working with a TMC will ensure managers know where their employees are going, what they’re doing there and how to protect them while they’re doing it, and allow the traveller to reach out for support if necessary.

The importance of travel insurance

Adequately insuring your company and its employees for business trips is essential. Hoping you have cover from the credit card you used to book with is often not enough, especially for frequent travellers.

Credit card insurance can often be quite basic, with limits on claim amounts and duration of trips, and medical cover often not as extensive as you might think. Furthermore, automatic reimbursement for medical expenses is not included, so although credit cards offer assistance while you’re abroad, they do not cover you in the same way as a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy.

Employees need to check the company travel policy before travel to ensure they are fully covered for their trip, and if not, give their travel manager a call to arrange further cover. Staff must be aware of who the company’s nominated travel provider is and who they should call in an emergency, including their insurer’s emergency assist number, and should keep these details with them when they travel.

Aside from the safety of your staff and their peace of mind while travelling, duty of care in the UK is now even more important than ever as new legislation has brought it higher up the company priority list, and it now includes fines for businesses that fall short of the duty of care practices required.

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