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Employer duty of care for travelling employees 

An introductory guide on the concept of duty of care for employers and the importance of preventive measures for the security of workers on assignment abroad.

Table of Contents

The notion of employer duty of care involves the principle that an employer is responsible for the wellbeing of its employees in all circumstances that involve their professional performance.

It is not only an ethical obligation, and not just a general responsibility, but a true legal requirement. Moreover, it is not only limited to the usual workplace, but extends to any operation conducted in a different environment, for example abroad.

The employer duty of care is a vital aspect of modern corporate responsibility, encompassing legal, ethical, and practical considerations. As workplaces and business environments evolve, the duty of care will continue to be a central focus for organizations that prioritize their employees’ safety and well-being. 

In Italy, the principle of duty of care has a place in the legislation, and is found in a number of legislative decrees, for example in d.l. 2008/ 81 or article 2087 of Codice civile. This means that in case of negligence, the company will be held accountable for any damage caused to the employee.

Find more on Italian legislation on the matter in our guide on Italian health and safety law for assignments abroad.

Depending on the nature of the harm caused, the company may then suffer financial or reputational repercussions.

This is why it becomes fundamental to know how to comply with the duty of care in ordinary, but especially in extraordinary circumstances.  

Some examples of employer duty of care areas 

The duty of care can be broken down into some key areas:

  1. Workplace Safety: Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment. This includes ensuring that the physical workplace is free from hazards, providing safety training, and implementing measures to prevent accidents and injuries. 
  1. Mental Health and Well-being: Employers should recognize and address the mental health and well-being of their employees. This includes offering resources for stress management, conflict resolution, and access to mental health support services. 
  1. Legal Compliance: Employers must adhere to all labor laws, regulations, and industry-specific standards to protect the rights and interests of their employees. 
  1. Protection from Discrimination and Harassment: Employers should foster an inclusive and diverse workplace where discrimination, harassment, and bullying are not tolerated. This includes addressing and preventing any form of workplace discrimination or harassment. 
  1. Effective Communication: Employers should maintain open lines of communication with employees, ensuring that they are informed about important matters affecting their employment and well-being. This includes clear policies, procedures, and feedback mechanisms.  

Ways of implementing employer duty of care

Then, what must a company do in order to meet its duty of care obligations? 

To fulfill duty of care obligations, companies should start by assigning responsibilities. The employer duty of care can be shared by top management, HR representatives, or other corporate entities. Clear responsibilities help prevent breaches of care.

Evidence of necessary actions taken to prevent harm is essential. Due diligence, involving the investigation of standards of care before entering agreements, is part of this process.

Moreover, in order to meet the duty of care requirements, it becomes important to be able to provide evidence to show that necessary actions to prevent any harm have been taken.

In order to do so, an attentive analysis of the specific working circumstances will be necessary.

Due diligence as evidence of preventive actions

A first process that can be highlighted is that of due diligence: the difference between duty of care and due diligence is that the latter concerns the investigation that a business is expected to take before entering into an agreement (to ensure that they meet certain standards of care), whereas duty of care refers to the general principle.

Duty of care extends preventive measures beyond national borders

But this is not enough. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, many companies operate on a global scale. Hence, the most common scenario where duty of care responsibilities become of fundamental importance is whenever corporate travel is conducted.

The duty of care extends beyond national borders, making it essential for businesses to consider the safety and well-being of employees in international settings.

When employees are sent abroad for work, whether temporarily or on long-term assignments, companies have a responsibility to ensure their safety and health in unfamiliar environments.

Find more about the advantages of implementing a correct risk management for foreign assignments in our guide on travel risk management.

The importance of travel risk assessment

In this case, a numerous series of moving variables can affect the safety, health and security of employees, because, abroad, not only the working conditions can and will be not those that an employer is used to, but the socio-political environment could also be very different. Therefore, many elements could prove dangerous or harmful to the posted worker. In this context, the process of risk assessment becomes fundamental.  

Moreover, the concept of emergency preparedness comes to mind: employers should have emergency response plans that address various scenarios, from sociopolitical issues to natural disasters, to ensure employees’ safety in critical situations.  

In order to take into account every aspect of this complex responsibility, it is important for a company to be able to rely on an experienced provider, that can offer expert advice on workers’ safety, provide tailored information on the possible risks and continuous support during the assessment process, but also during the corporate travel itself. 

Furthermore, HR representatives and security managers will find beneficial to make use of a software or a digital platform to access information on safety, keep track of everything, monitor the situation and any possible changes to it. 

Get assistance from Studio A&P 

Studio Arletti & Partners offers comprehensive solutions to help companies navigate the complexities of the duty of care. Through their platform, AtlasPosting, businesses can access vital resources and information to ensure employee safety and well-being, particularly in international and high-risk environments.

Our software guarantees compliance with ISO 31030 guidelines for travel risk management.

Contact our Experts to find out more and get a free demo of our Software for safe business trips worldwide.

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