IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 135

07 A Broadening Service | Duty of Care
Major Milestone
Duty of Care – Recognised
for Thought Leadership
The notion of protecting employees in the
workplace, and staff travelling on business, derives
from a number of different incentives. There is the
natural desire to protect fellow humans from harm.
From a purely financial perspective, injury or illness
among staff can cause significant disruption and
associated costs. In recent years a further reason has
been increasingly recognised: A legal Duty of Care.
Protecting employees in the workplace is
gradually becoming enshrined in law, at least in
most industrialised countries. The duty extends
to employees when they are on assignment or
travelling in other jurisdictions on behalf of their
employer. Although laws differ country by country
this duty is being increasingly recognised through
a combination of legislation, common law and
codes of practice. In effect, this means that
companies are expected to support their travelling
employees as much as reasonably practical.
Providing pre-trip medical check-ups, information
and training to employees, as well as advice and
medical and security assistance during travel or
assignments abroad, helps employers satisfy their
Duty of Care responsibilities.
Since we provide advice and assistance services,
both in the workplace and to travellers, and given
our growing emphasis on preparation and
prevention, the emerging Duty of Care proposition
became a natural discussion point between us and
our clients, particularly in Europe, Australasia and
North America. Although in 2008, the global
financial crisis meant that all activities were
potentially a target for budget cuts, Laurent Fourier,
who heads our European business, points out that
the Duty of Care became a ‘must have’ not a ‘nice to
Left: Business travellers,
Changi airport, Singapore.
have’. Laurent adds that it was helpful that Arnaud
actively pushed the formalisation of the Duty of Care
offering as a strategic imperative for the Group.
We began to talk to our clients about Duty of Care,
explaining that simply being insured is not enough.
Before going abroad, everyone – workers, students,
interns or volunteers – needed preparation and
training. They needed to know the risks. Whereas
previously we had traditionally talked to HR, we now
also began to address senior risk managers and
security managers. Our knowledge and contacts in
this field gave us immediate credibility.
To help our clients address their Duty of Care
responsibilities, our legal and marketing teams
asked Professor Dr Lisbeth Claus, a global HR
expert, to review the emerging law in a selection
of countries. In 2009, she produced a White Paper
on ‘The Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting
International Assignees, their Dependants, and
International Business Travellers’. This found that
whilst the legal position in each country was diverse,
there was a general obligation on employers to
protect the physical and mental health, safety,
security and well-being of employees, wherever
they work. The white paper advised companies
to standardise their Duty of Care responsibilities
at the highest level and develop an integrated
risk management strategy. It also set out some
best practices to act as a starting point.


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