Why an Employer’s Duty of Care Matters During Corporate Travel

Why an Employer’s Duty of Care Matters During Corporate Travel

Managing your duty of care to employees becomes more complicated if they’re often outside the office or frequently travel. Corporate travel is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2024, bouncing back and exceeding its pre-pandemic levels for the first time. While we’re adopting remote working, more companies are embracing the power of face-to-face connection with business travel. 

More businesses are planning to offer corporate travel, meaning their duty of care strategy needs to evolve to account for employee safety while traveling. A recent survey found that 46% of business travelers don’t have a corporate travel safety plan. Another found that only 44% of employees stated their employers had organized travel risk awareness training.

We’re sharing everything you need to know about an employer’s duty of care and how you can develop an effective duty of care strategy for corporate travel.

Roundtrip Blog
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8 minutes read

What is an employer’s duty of care?

Corporations have a duty of care to their employees to protect them against undue risk. While “duty of care” is open to interpretation, it means that there is a requirement for employers to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Most countries have mandated safety requirements that provide a legal basis for the employer’s duty of care.

Employers should take reasonable steps to ensure the safety, well-being, and health of their employees both in the office and while traveling for work. An employer still has a duty of care when an employee is traveling for work, such as resolving travel disruptions and repatriating their employee if a health emergency occurs. 

Several people within a company may be responsible for overseeing the employer’s duty of care, including:

  • The CEO
  • HR department
  • Legal department
  • Safety officers
  • Team managers
  • Corporate travel managers

These roles must collaborate to provide a comprehensive duty of care strategy for employees, especially when traveling. An employer’s duty of care responsibilities requires a collective effort from multiple parts of the organization.

An employer’s duty of care responsibilities requires a collective effort from multiple parts of the organization.
Photo: Ground Picture/ Shutterstock.com

The importance of employee duty of care

Employers must fulfill their duty of care responsibilities for employees when they are carrying out their working responsibilities. An employer may be in breach of this duty of care when they fail to take reasonable steps to ensure an employee’s safety or mitigate potential risks during corporate travel.

There are several laws and regulations that form this duty of care:

1. Employee contracts

An employee’s contract may have a specific clause regarding duty of care, such as handling travel disruptions during corporate trips and ensuring workplace safety.

2. Health and safety laws

Most countries have extensive health and safety regulations that define an employer’s duty of care. For example, an employer is liable for identifying and mitigating potential hazards that are reasonably foreseeable. 

Employers must fulfill their duty of care responsibilities for employees when they are carrying out their working responsibilities.
Photo: Andrii Yalanskyi/ Shutterstock.com

3. Workplace policies

Organizations may develop their own workplace policies that reference duty of care, including their specific commitments to employee wellbeing and safety. A company that regularly arranges corporate travel with multiple employees traveling at once will want to develop a duty of care strategy specifically for employee travel.

4. Common law requirements

Different jurisdictions have enshrined an employer’s duty of care into common law. These requirements differ between countries and may include proper training and addressing potential known risks.

While these four aspects lay the foundation for an employer’s duty of care, no specific regulation or law showcases the exact measures an employer must take as part of a reasonable measure to ensure employee safety and well-being. 

Companies will want to use the above information to ensure compliance and as a baseline for their duty of care strategy.

Different jurisdictions have enshrined an employer’s duty of care into common law. These requirements differ between countries and may include proper training and addressing potential known risks.
Photo: PanuShot/ Shutterstock.com

Duty of care during corporate travel

There are 445 million business travelers every year. While many of these trips go off without a hitch, a lot that can potentially go wrong. Companies and corporate travel managers must be prepared for anything that reasonably might happen.

Common issues for corporate travelers include:

  • Flight delays and cancellations, including missed flights
  • Becoming sick during a business trip
  • Losing travel documentation, including passports
  • Health emergencies or accidents requiring medical attention.

Other issues can occur outside of a company’s control:

  • Natural disasters and extreme weather
  • Crime, terrorism, and national emergencies
  • Political or social unrest
  • Travel disruptions, including strikes
  • New travel requirements, such as vaccines

Companies and corporate travel managers should consider the above when developing their duty of care strategy for business travel. These scenarios are reasonably foreseeable, and there should be measures in place to address them.

How to build an effective duty of care policies

Companies need to put systems and solutions in place to meet their duty of care requirements during corporate travel. There’s a wide array of situations that could occur, from health emergencies to flight delays and extreme weather events. The pandemic showed just how quickly travel requirements can change. 

Companies need to establish systems and solutions, such as 24/7 real-time support for potential issues like flight delays, to fulfill their duty of care obligations during corporate travel.
Photo: tsingha25/ Shutterstock.com

There’s no “one size fits all” duty of care policy for corporate travel. You should consider the specific risks involved with the countries your employees are likely to travel to and any specific circumstances involving your industry.

In general, your duty of care policy for corporate travel should include:

  • Pre-trip risk assessments and training for employees
  • Threat monitoring for areas employees may travel to
  • Consistent communication globally with employees
  • 24/7 real-time support for potential issues, i.e. flight delays

We’re sharing seven tips to manage travel risks and effectively fulfill your duty of care during corporate travel. 

Establish a pre-travel process

Your duty of care strategy should start before your employee is traveling. Establishing a pre-travel process presents an opportunity to compile risk assessment reports and give an employee the information they need about their destination, particularly if they’re traveling to a high-risk location.

Your company may choose to offer safety training for employees before their first business trip.
Photo: fatir29/ Shutterstock.com

Your company may choose to offer safety training for employees before their first business trip. Information is power, and giving your employees pre-travel information can make them feel more comfortable ahead of their first trip.

Employee health surveys

Corporate travel managers should work with the HR department to ensure that any pre-existing health conditions are on file in the event of a medical emergency. A situation might arise where an employee has a healthcare emergency in a foreign country during a corporate travel trip.

Knowledge of pre-existing conditions allows companies to support their employees and meet their duty of care requirements. The HR department must be involved to ensure that private rules are met and that employees are given the option to disclose these issues and understand why they’re being asked for. 

Corporate travel managers and HR departments collaborate to record pre-existing health conditions, providing a safety net for employees. This preparation is crucial for immediate support during medical emergencies that may occur on business trips.
Photo: LeoWolfert/ Shutterstock.com

Know where your employees are

Large companies may have multiple employees traveling at once. If an emergency occurs, the company needs to know where all their employees currently are. Your organization should have a system in place to track current trips, including the destinations and where specific employees are. A traveler tracking system or self-reporting ensures that employers have real-time knowledge of employee locations.

Communication is crucial

Communication is central to an employer’s duty of care, especially when an employee is outside the office. Your duty of care strategy should have guidelines or a written policy that ensures communication in the event of disruptions. Security briefings are usually recommended for employees traveling to high-risk areas, and a pre-trip briefing may help employees who are visiting a new location for the first time.

You should have communication guidelines in place for potential scenarios like a health crisis, including informing the employee’s next of kin and communicating during natural disasters. Encourage your employees to check in with the head office or their manager throughout their trip to ensure their well-being and safety.

Encourage your employees to check in with the head office or their manager throughout their trip to ensure their well-being and safety.
Photo: mapo_japan/ Shutterstock.com

Safe and secure accommodation

An employer’s duty of care means that they must provide employees with safe and secure accommodation when traveling for business trips. You should book reputable hotels in safe locations to minimize risks.

Roundtrip offers access to 2.5 million hotels in over 220 countries, helping you book affordable, safe, and secure accommodation for corporate travel. 

Travel alerts and safety information

Real-time information is crucial if unforeseen circumstances occur. Encourage your employees to download apps or visit government websites that will provide safety information in the event of an emergency. 

Travel providers will usually send out alerts and notifications in the event of inclement weather, travel delays, or emergencies, such as a natural disaster. You want to ensure your employees have access to these travel alerts or that they are forwarded to them as quickly as possible.

Real-time information is crucial if unforeseen circumstances occur. Encourage your employees to download apps or visit government websites that will provide safety information in the event of an emergency. 
Photo: Ken stocker / Shutterstock.com

Provide 24/7 Support

Travel disruptions and health emergencies can happen at any hour of the day. Your duty of care doesn’t stop outside of office hours. You want to work with a travel platform that offers 24/7 support for your employees, wherever they are in the world.

Our multi-lingual account managers are available 24/7 to help with travel disruptions.

Employee profiles allow them to access their travel details and amend plans if disruptions occur. 

Make corporate travel stress-free with Roundtrip

Roundtrip is the hub for corporate travel, helping you organize your business travel on one platform. We work with corporate travel managers, finance teams, and professionals to streamline travel planning.


Get started with Roundtrip today to experience stress-free corporate travel with 24/7 global support when the unexpected happens. 

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