SMBs neglect travelling employees duty of care: study

Businesses are becoming complacent when it comes to their duty of care towards employees required to travel for work, a new study has found.

A Concur study found businesses are uncertain about the impact increasing business travel has on their responsibilities toward staff.

With the rapid development of markets in the Asia-Pacific region, local employees are increasingly being asked to travel overseas, potentially exposing them to greater risks.

“Employers have a moral and legal responsibility for the health, safety and security of their employees,” Concur Asia Pacific general manager Michael Eberhard said.

The study found just 30 percent of businesses have a plan in place in relation to their duty of care for travelling employees, while only half actively assess and manage risks to employees on a regular basis.

As many as 41 percent of businesses with travelling employees have no specific code of practice that informs staff what to do if their health, safety, or security is put at risk.

Businesses without an adequate risk management plan may find they aren’t prepared for the impact incidents overseas could have on employees. Travel risks may include common incidents such as delayed flights and accommodation mix-ups, as well as more severe problems like exposure to disease, natural disasters, technology failures, and civil unrest.

Over 50 percent of employees surveyed said their employer doesn’t provide information and communication specific to contingency plans that would cover unexpected events, and 79 percent of employees assume their employers will be able to effectively handle any problems or issues that may arise when travelling.

“At a minimum, companies need to examine how they inform, locate, alert, and assist their employees who are travelling on business for their organisations,” Eberhard said

Eberhard added “[There are] implications for organisations and their employees unless proper consideration is given to the evolving nature of duty of care in the context of growing business travel.”

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