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Employers Not Aware Of Travel Responsibilities

25 January 2006

Employers Not Aware Of Staff Travel Responsibilities

Employers are increasingly responsible for the safety of their staff, both within the workplace and when travelling, but many don’t realise the full extent of their responsibilities, according to corporate travel specialist FCm Travel Solutions.

FCm Travel Solutions General Manager Christian Casbolt said as natural disasters, civil unrest, attempted coups and terrorism have become part of today’s global reality, employers needed to take all reasonable steps to ensure their people are safe, both for the sake of the employee and to prevent potential damages that could ensue from disaster on the road.

“While New Zealand business people heading over the Tasman aren’t likely to put themselves in too much danger, for those companies sending employees into more risky conditions overseas, where do the responsibilities of the employer begin and end?”

According to New Zealand employment law, employers have a responsibility to make the workplace safe. This doesn’t end when employees go offshore.

To achieve this companies are expected to: • systematically identify hazards • manage hazards by eliminating them, isolating them or minimising them, in that order of preference • provide safety information to staff • provide training or supervision so that work is done safely

Mr Casbolt said a lack of a reasonable effort when installing these steps could mean a business or organisation would be liable for substantial damages.

“For most business travel, simply educating employees on what they will encounter on their trip and making provision for emergencies, including full travel insurance and getting any vaccinations necessary, is enough to ensure a smooth experience.”

But some companies were now going further.

Mr Casbolt said FCm Travel Solutions had assisted in organising everything from training staff in emergency procedures to employing private forces to look after security, as well as putting together a crisis management plan, which normally included a traveller tracking service, destination intelligence and travel alternatives, a corporate travel safety checklist and a 24-hour support line accessible from anywhere in the world.

“And the importance of the corporate travel manager role is never more visible than during times of crisis. When the worst happens, businesses are able to witness the enormous non-monetary benefits of their corporate travel departments and the value of the human factor.”

Mr Casbolt said today’s travel managers should offer an integrated solution around intelligence, compliance monitoring, and incident response to effectively meet the higher standard of care required.

“In New Zealand many companies have now invested significant resources in developing workplace safety, but when it comes to travel it seems these same businesses are in some cases simply hoping for luck. The question is, what happens when the luck runs out?”


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