Working abroad and Employer's duty of care
Sunday 10th May 2015
There have always been security threats to be considered when travelling or working abroad. In the past, the type and degree of threat could, to a certain extent, be pre-determined with little or minimal research. However, in recent years, areas of political unrest, terrorist activity and growing sophistication and boldness of criminal groups have meant an increase. Criminal groups now operate in areas previously considered low risk. These activities have resulted in bombings, shootings, kidnaps, hostage taking and violent robbery / mugging, especially against western and/or western-associated personnel and organisations.
Kidnapping of company employees is a very real risk and generates millions a year in ransom payments. The UK government policy is not to pay ransoms. Employers should seriously consider specialist advice and Kidnap and Ransom insurance cover when sending staff to volatile regions, particularly areas of Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
Common sense and compassion for a fellow colleague will drive you to look after your staff and do you best for their welfare, but you should be aware of new laws related to corporate governance and corporate manslaughter, which not only insist that you take appropriate steps, but which may require extra measures to document and prove that you have fulfilled your duty of care. These laws may make CEOs and directors personally responsible and do not allow this responsibility to be passed onto managers within the organisation. You should thoroughly understand your responsibilities before you start sending staff overseas, especially if sending them to risky areas of the world.
See our feature here for more advice on what Employers and Employees alike can do to be prepared.