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HR professionals falling short on duty of care

HR professionals need to do more to meet duty of care

New research commissioned by Collinson Group has found the majority of HR professionals (58%) believe the process of sending employees abroad has got more complicated and difficult from a duty of care perspective over the past 12 months.

At a time of heightened global travel risks, the study also found more than half (54%) believe the process of sending employees abroad will get even more complicated and difficult over the next 12 months. Just 7% said that the process will not get more complicated.

Despite the increasing complexity and risks when sending employees abroad, the research found significant differences in how firms manage the process of business travel; just 59% said their businesses had a corporate travel policy that includes a risk management strategy; more than one in 10 (13%) admitted they either didn’t have a corporate travel risk policy or simply didn’t know.

A fifth (19%) of respondents said they had no corporate travel risk partner or Travel Management Company (TMC) in place. Nearly two-fifths (37%) said their firms had a corporate travel risk partner in place in addition to a TMC, while 24% said they had more than one travel risk provider. 15% said they used a TMC only.

The research also found that more than half (55%) of HR professionals think their TMC provides a medical and security assistance service for employees abroad if an incident occurs and over 40% think these firms handle crisis management and response. Some may believe they are meeting duty of care obligations because they assume their TMC suppliers will fulfill the duties of a travel risk partner, when in fact they may not have the expertise or specialism in these areas.

In addition, only half (52%) of HR professionals said they were wholly responsible for their company’s business travel policy, with 12% saying there was a blend of responsibilities with no overall ownership. Unsurprisingly, in terms of the most challenging aspects of sending people abroad, a quarter (25%) cited the internal coordination of responsibility. Classifying risks presented by different locations was cited by 23%, with staying abreast of risk drivers referred to by 17%.

Collinson Group’s study also found significant variety in the risk assessment processes employed by organisations before an employee travels abroad for work; just 44% said they ensure staff working overseas are issued with company guidelines for travelling on business and only 38% said they conduct risk assessments if the employee is going to an area deemed as high risk.

Of those firms that conduct risk assessments themselves, the most popular tool used is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website (63%). Google/online search was second, cited by 58%, whereas reports or updates from a security consultancy or partner were used by just a third (33%).