The nature of terrorism has changed. What were once low-risk destinations, have now become high-risk in a matter of hours, which means companies are unwittingly sending their staff to high or extreme risk regions.
In this environment, companies have a legal duty of care obligation to adapt their travel risk strategies to fit the 21st century realities of business travel.
As the tragic events in Westminster, Manchester and more recently on London Bridge and Borough Market demonstrate, any destination can become high risk.
While companies have a legal and moral obligation to protect their travellers, it is also the traveller’s responsibility not to put themselves deliberately in harm’s way.
A business traveller’s ‘duty of loyalty’ requires them to follow the procedures outlined in the company’s travel risk policies and to use common sense to avoid unnecessary risks.
A recent study conducted by On Call International shows that one in four business travellers admit to binge drinking while on business trips.
Other travellers might neglect the advice received by their company prior to travelling at considerable risk to their personal safety. As an example, in some countries it is not advised for women to take a taxi on their own. This kind of advice should never be ignored.
Business Travel Report indicates that over a third of travellers never do any research on their destination and a significant 78% never carry an emergency phone number.
This behaviour should cause great concern for employers. Not only does it pose substantial risks to the employees’ personal safety, but could also lead to lawsuits that threaten the company’s reputation.
Most employees don’t tend to indulge in unruly behaviour, but travellers can be complacent about the risks they face, which is equally problematic.
Travellers have a key role to play in a successful Travel Risk Management. They have a responsibility to comply with the company’s travel risk policy, book through the authorised channels, provide the company with up-to-date emergency contacts and engage in low-risk behaviour during their trip.
Providing a stand-alone travel risk policy can send out a clear message that the company takes duty of care very seriously. This policy should outline an organisation’s commitment to manage risk for travellers, as well as detail what is expected of them, both before and during their trip.
According to Advocate Louis Nel, the travel risk policy should outline any activities that are off-limit for business travellers in as much detail as possible. Unauthorised activities and behaviour needs to be documented in writing and signed by both parties.
If the traveller does participate in anything that is off limits, the company cannot be held responsible as this is seen as ‘out of policy’. It can also lead to a disciplinary hearing, especially if there are additional costs involved to the company.
Corporates need to strive to align duty of care and duty of loyalty in an effective way that will benefit both the traveller and the company and will keep everyone safe.
Louis Nel | Advocate | firstname.lastname@example.org |