At a time when there were no cell phones, the public announcement “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” appeared before the 10 o’clock news as a reminder to parents that children should be home prior to curfew. During my high school years, when I was out with friends, we would often joke “It’s 10pm. Do you know where your parents are?” Those same parents who used to be in for the night, were enjoying a new social life of their own, showing that life in America was changing.
Fast forward to today’s world, where information is readily available, and apply the same principle to your company’s travel program. For example, let’s say there’s been a disaster, you hear about it and you wonder, do I know where my travelers are? Are any of them currently traveling in the affected area? If so, are they okay? How do I reach them? Do I know how to contact their family members or friends?
What is duty of care?
Duty of care–we’ve all heard of it, but what does it really mean? A basic definition is to ensure that a person does not suffer any unreasonable harm or loss. If your actions as an employer do not meet the standard duty of care, then you are considered negligent and a lawsuit may result.
Corporations are responsible for their employees when they travel, particularly when and if they travel in a harmful situation. This can become challenging when 1) corporations don’t keep track of their employees, and 2) employees don’t tell anyone where they are going. On one of my business trips I called home and my family asked, “How’s Boise?” My reply was, “I’m in Portland.” I certainly failed in communicating to anyone my exact plans.
Organizations are definitely doing a better job at making sure they know where their employees are traveling. Employees need to understand how important it is for the company to know where they are for safety reasons. A benchmarking study was done by International SOS on duty of care. A list of best practices were derived from gaps they found in the study.
10 Duty of Care Best Practice Recommendations
- Increase awareness
- Plan with key stakeholders
- Expand policies and procedures
- Conduct due diligence
- Communicate, educate and train
- Assess risk prior to every employee trip
- Track traveling employees at all times
- Implement an employee emergency response system
- Implement additional management controls
- Ensure vendors are aligned
Whether you are an organization, travel manager, or traveler, find a tool that best suits you to keep track of your whereabouts. There are many apps, agency tools, and third party vendors who can help in keeping track of employee travel. If you haven’t done so, give it a try. You will sleep much better at night knowing where your travelers are.