Duty of Care was discussed in a number of concurrent sessions at last week's GBTA Canada 2012 Conference in Toronto. We haven't tackled this topic in a Cvent Blog yet, so it's timely.
Duty of care applies whether employees are working at a domestic location, overseas or in the process of event travel for business meetings, conferences, corporate retreats or incentives.
While duty of care is nothing new, since 9/11, other terrorist incidents, diseases such as SARS and H1N1 and natural disasters that disrupted travel have underscored its importance.
The essence of duty of care is that companies have a responsibility to:
- know where their employees are working at all times.
- protect their safety and security
- ensure that employees have access to adequate medical care
- provide assistance to employees in the event of epidemics, civil or natural disasters (e.g. tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes)
Various jurisdictions have Duty of Care legislation for some time now. While Europe lags behind the U.S. and Australia, France is a role model of exceptional duty of care practices. The UK has The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. In Australia duty of care is covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. In Canada, workplace and safety legislation is under provincial jurisdiction. While travel and working abroad are not covered explicitly, in Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) does place the onus on employers to ensure a safe working environment. In the U.S., duty of care falls more under tort legislation that evolves as the result of court decisions after companies being sued.
The September, 2011 Travel Market Report identified five internal corporate stakeholders with primary duty of care accountability:
- senior management
- risk management
- human resources
The study summarized the results of a global duty of care benchmarking study conducted by International SOS:
Our latest 2011 global benchmarking study, with 628 companies around the world, showed that overall awareness is growing, but that companies aren’t doing such a great job of developing strategic and tactical plans to implement duty of care.
Here are some resources that companies can access in order to put the policies and pieces in place to ensure duty of care:
- Duty of Care for Travelers, Expatriates and Assignees (Download Full International SOS Global Benchmarking Study)
- Understanding Duty of Care in Relation to Business Travel [Concur Whitepaper]
- Risk Management: Why You Need to Track Your Travelers
- Keeping Travellers Safe
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