DUTY OF CARE: Shared Responsibility Between Travellers and Travel Managers

(By Lisa Kahan)

Duty of Care is a hot topic that no company can afford to ignore. And while most conversations focus on the moral and legal responsibility that companies have to their employees, what obligations do your travellers have to behave responsibly? There are many things your company can do to help your travellers stay safe, but ultimately, they’re the ones making many of the decisions that have a direct impact on their well-being and your business.


Lost productivity, unsafe situations, strained or ruined business relationships, and data theft: these are just some of the consequences of poor decision-making while on the road. But what can a company do to help employees minimize the risks? First, set expectations and parameters. Employees should have a clear understanding of what your company considers safe and acceptable behaviour and practices. For example, does your company consider Airbnb and Uber to be safe alternatives to hotels and taxis? Are your employees compelled to lock their laptops when their hotel room is vacant?

For some employees, being in an unfamiliar or stressful situation or experiencing loneliness while being away from home can lead to questionable behaviour.

Second, understand the root causes of risky behaviour. Do you have travellers who try to save the company money by staying in hotels in unsafe locations or renting cars from less than reputable companies. For some employees, being in an unfamiliar or stressful situation or experiencing loneliness while being away from home can lead to questionable behaviour. Make sure you are giving your employees the support and training they need to make smart decisions and represent your company well.



Every company, regardless of its size or travel budget, should have a comprehensive travel policy in place. This policy should be tailored to fit your company’s needs. Start by evaluating how and where your employees travel. Do they travel regionally or internationally? Are they frequently in high-risk areas? Once you’ve finished your evaluation, put in place policies that suit the needs of your travellers. Remember to consider your company’s culture in relation to risk management. What types of client entertainment are acceptable? How does your company feel about companion travel and “bleisure”?


Although it’s hard to tell employees how to behave, you should set expectations of personal conduct. A recent survey of business travellers found that 27% admitted to binge drinking on a business trip. While you want to allow entertaining, set straightforward guidelines about how that looks in real life. Employees should be aware that inappropriate behaviour such as being hungover for a client meeting may warrant disciplinary action.


Empower employees to make better decisions with pre-travel training. This includes providing them with destination briefs, educating them about safe travel practices, making sure they know how to access and use the tools and services you provide for them, and keep them updated with the latest information about security and health risks. This may be especially important for young staffers and inexperienced travellers.


Make sure your travellers have the help they need with 24/7 assistance. Whether it’s a last-minute itinerary change, a medical emergency or lost passport, your employees should always know who to call. Depending on where they travel, you might also need a travel service that provides translations, emergency medical transportation or on-the-ground local assistance. Your travel management company should quickly assess your level of need and recommend the appropriate services.

Duty of Care is a broad term that covers a wide variety of scenarios, but you don’t have to go it alone. Whether you decide to outsource all or part of a risk management program, just follow the guidelines above to help ease some of the stress of travel management.

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