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Why duty of care is important in work travel

Whether work travel is required for meeting clients, gaining clients, for training, or for simply undertaking a job; there’s no compensation for face-to-face interaction when it comes to business. Which is why duty of care is so important.

In a recent study nearly half of British employees engaging in work travel, said they were more productive as a result of being out of the office. Showing the importance of business travel.

But, with work travel comes great responsibility. In today’s world, where employers are under greater scrutiny than ever, duty of care is high on the agenda. It’s also important for productivity and staff retention, as well as brand reputation. In such competitive times, it can be advantageous to have a motivated workforce, that feels invested in and cared for.

To better understand the issue of business travel, let’s delve deeper into the importance of due diligence and best practices to adopt.

Duty of Care – An Overview

We’ve all heard the term, but what does it mean? Simply put, duty of care is an organisation’s responsibility to look after its employees when based externally from the office. This can include; working from home, travelling on business, or attending events, amongst other scenarios.

With remote working on the rise and 14 million overnight business trips taken annually in the UK, employee care has never been more topical. Affecting both performance and productivity, as well as brand image, a detailed company travel policy for employees should be included in any set of company guidelines.

Travel Well

A responsible company puts the welfare of its employees at the heart of its operation. This is especially important with workforce travel, since it promotes a safe and successful trip, and reduces the risk of legal action due to negligence.

A company’s duty of care should feature in the company travel policy for employees. It should cover everything from appropriate conduct when sharing rooms, through to expenses and how to lift heavy goods. With mental health forming part of well being management, this is another area to explore and consider.

Looking to set up a corporate travel policy or a wellness programme? Check out our eBook on how the wellness of your employees impacts your businesses bottom line. 

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Serving as a guide for best practice, a set of guidelines can also help safeguard against common and unexpected business travel problems.

Making Work Travel Work

In workforce travel, there’s a number of important areas that duty of care should consider, some of these include:

  •   Booking procedures: most SMEs will have a dedicated hotel booking platform for colleagues to use. This can save time and money, with corporate bookings being pre-paid and not putting the employee out of pocket.
  •   Bespoke needs Another benefit of using a hotel booking platform is the ability to cater to late check-in’s. This is quite typical in certain fields such as construction and engineering, which require irregular hours of working.
  •   Transfers: A high priority is to ensure secure transport to and from destinations for colleagues, especially late at night. You may want to think about a corporate account for taxi transfers, as well as providing pre-booked train tickets, to avoid colleagues having to pay and reclaim.
  •   Expenses and claims: With employees working away from home, it’s standard practice to reimburse them for meals and transfers. A travel and expense policy should outline these in greater detail. If possible, pre-paid hotel rooms should be aimed for, since these can be costly.
  •   Room sharing: If colleagues share rooms, this should be consensual and respectful to their personal needs. A company guidebook should highlight the importance of personal safety and expected behaviours. 
  •   Emergency situations: Consider the impact if trains or flights are delayed, or emergency healthcare if colleagues become sick or injured while on duty travel. Personal well being and welfare is one of the biggest business travel problems today that employees encounter. As such, private healthcare and insurance is highly advisable.

On a Practical Note

As well as having up-to-date corporate guidelines, there’s a few practical steps that businesses can take to ensure a safe trip. The first is to provide colleagues with mandatory training, from how to use hotel booking platforms, to personal safety measures when travelling.

An emergency list of contacts should be made readily available, while colleagues should be encouraged to share their whereabouts with their line manager.

Finally, a business float might come in handy, especially for younger colleagues to have access to money and avoid financial business travel problems.

Duty of care is important. With Roomex, it's directly integrated with your hotel stays. Meaning we provide you with a personalised real time duty of care map so it's easy to check on employees domestically and globally. Learn more about our commitment to duty of care by chatting with one of our travel experts today. 

duty of care

On a Final Note

Work travel is an essential part of business life, especially with remote working growing in popularity. Whether it’s an overnight stay in a local hotel, or a trip to the other side of the country, employee welfare should always be of the highest priority.

As such, it’s important for businesses to create detailed guidelines, outlining code of conduct, best practice and booking procedures to help assist team members.

With this in place, employees are best equipped to manage business travel problems should they arise. Offering protocol and peace of mind, a duty of care should be considered both a moral and legal obligation, helping to ensure the safety and welfare of the entire company.

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