Duty of Care: how to keep your traveling staff safe
If you have employees who travel for work, you have a responsibility to keep them safe. But you might be wondering if you have a duty of care and how you can put measures in place to safeguard your travelling staff.
So, we spoke with Andrew Hinton, Manager of Flight Centre Business Travel’s Cairns office, for his insights into your responsibilities and protecting your employees while they’re on the road.
Do you have a duty of care to travelling staff?
If your staff are travelling for work on behalf of your business, then yes, you do. Duty of care forms part of your travel risk management and is covered under the Australian Work Health and Safety legislation, which includes the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
Employers have a duty of care and are responsible for their staff’s physical and mental health and their safety, including while travelling for work domestically and overseas. Part of an employer’s duty of care is to do whatever is reasonably practicable to keep their staff safe and healthy, and not put people at risk.
“Duty of care is crucial, not just for legislative reasons, but to protect and keep your staff happy and healthy, including while travelling,” says Andrew.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can help to achieve this.
How to keep your staff safe while travelling
Traveller safety starts with having a thorough travel policy in place. Elements of a travel policy that will help to keep your staff safe include the type of hotels they stay in; the carrier and timing of their flights; and who can approve bookings or make changes.
“It’s all about travellers being safe. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to stay in premium hotels; we can make recommendations that suit your specified hotel rate cap and keep your staff safe and happy at the same time,” says Andrew.
Balancing the bottom line with traveller safety can be challenging, but when it comes to duty of care, your staff are the priority.
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Put your staff's wellbeing first
“It can be tempting to book the cheapest option for travelling staff to keep costs down, but that isn’t necessarily the best option for their safety and wellbeing. For example, booking a FIFO worker on a red eye flight and then a hire car to drive a further 8 hours might be a cheaper option, but it isn’t going to be in the interest of the traveller’s safety,” says Andrew.
Consolidating bookings and travelling with a single itinerary can help ensure that your business knows where your travelling staff are at all times, says Andrew:
“Providing greater visibility of your travellers’ movements can help you stay across where they’ll be and when, and makes it easier to make changes to the whole itinerary if they need to leave a location early or avoid it altogether."
Monitor and mitigate risk
Once the booking is all sorted, you can monitor the travel plans and minimise risk to your travelling staff by staying aware of what’s happening in their destination. Websites like Smart Traveller can help with up-to-date Government notifications on international destinations, and you can have alerts built into your Flight Centre Business Travel profile.
“Nominating the most common regions of overseas travel to receive alerts for will help you stay across what’s happening that might impact your traveller or their travel plans. We often hear updates on other countries through the news but not to the extent that you’d need to know if you or your staff are travelling there,” says Andrew.
Ensuring you can get in touch with your staff wherever they are is also important, so make sure you set them up with the right communication tools, including mobile phone capabilities for remote or international areas, and ensure they can access WiFi for email communication.
Protect travelling staff with insurance
All the planning in the world won’t necessarily help if your travelling gets injured or sick. And for those times, the best thing you can do to put your travellers’ well-being first is to take out business travel insurance.
With so many providers out there, make sure you’re looking after your staff by getting a policy that covers superior medical care wherever they are.
“Check the fine print. What does the insurance cover if your staff are injured on a mine site in a remote location? Or will the insurance provider fly an injured traveller from Indonesia to Singapore where they have a first-world hospital? Make sure your staff are well looked after if something happens, here or abroad,” says Andrew.
Fulfilling your duty of care
It might sound complicated, and there certainly are big stakes. But your travel manager can help take the pressure off and set up your business to take care of your staff while travelling. Just ask them how.